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"My name is Prince
And 👁 am funky
My name is Prince
The one and only
👁 did not come
To fuck around
'Til 👁 get your daughter
👁 won't leave this town"
Prince, "My Name Is Prince"note 

Move over, James Brown. There's a new sex machine in town, and his name's Prince.

Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016), generally known simply as "Prince," "The Purple One," or "His Royal Badness" to fans, was probably the most famous musician from Minnesota since Bob Dylan to become incredibly successful and carve a place for himself in the annals of pop music history.

Known as a multi-instrumentalist who could play several instruments pretty epically (keyboards, synthesizers, guitar, bass, drums, drum machine) and a highly idiosyncratic (sometimes bordering on Control Freak) songwriter, Prince had a future rock star's obligatory chaotic childhood and parent separation, though his mother has stated he only had "normal disagreements" with his father, and other people have suggested it wasn't anywhere near as bad as depicted in Purple Rain or songs like "Papa" (food for thought: Prince also co-wrote several songs with his father John L. Nelson). After running away from home and staying with his neighbors (where he met future bandmate André Cymone), Prince entered his first band in the early seventies, playing piano and guitar. A demo recorded in 1976 brought the attention of a few major record labels, and he wound up signing with Warner Bros. Records because they offered him the most creative freedom (commence laughter). His first two albums for the label, For You and Prince, were full of rather generic, disco-influenced R&B, recorded in one-man band mode. Prince nevertheless began to showcase his overwhelming preoccupation with sex and matters of the flesh in general: his first single was called "Soft and Wet"note ; and his 1979 hit "I Wanna Be Your Lover" featured the line, "I wanna be the only one you come for," in the chorus.

With Dirty Mind, Prince finally hit upon his Signature Style that would hereafter be called "The Minneapolis Sound": a fusion of funk (by way of Parliament-Funkadelic, Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone), New Wave (lots of robotic synths and drum machines), pop and rock. The sound was largely defined by its clean guitar sound, the fusion of the LinnDrum drum machine and live percussion, and the use of keyboards as both a horn section and as extensions of the guitar. It also helped that by Dirty Mind, Prince had assembled a good backing band (bassist André Cymone, guitarist Dez Dickerson, keyboardists Lisa Coleman and Dr. Fink, and drummer Bobby Z.). Lyrically, Dirty Mind began Prince's descent into full-on Intercourse with You-mode, as showcased by such songs as "Head" (about him tricking a bride on her way to getting married into giving him head) and "Sister" (about really Squicky Brother–Sister Incest). The album was also recorded entirely by Prince on all the instruments except for "Head", which included vocals from Lisa Coleman and Dr. Fink contributing a noisy, atonal keyboard solo.

Unsurprisingly, this all proved to be a bit too much for America in The '80s (his bizarre wardrobe certainly didn't help matters) - while opening for The Rolling Stones in 1981, Prince got pelted with trash and booed off the stage. Still, he soldiered on and released Controversy, which was pretty much Dirty Mind again, but with more confident and exploratory songwriting (general consensus has pretty much branded Controversy with the It's the Same, Now It Sucks! iron).

By this time, Prince's backing band had crystallized into its most famous incarnation:

  • Brown Mark - bass guitar, vocals
  • Bobby Z. - drums
  • Lisa Coleman - keyboards, vocals (generally credited as "Wendy and Lisa")
  • Wendy Melvoin - guitar, vocals (generally credited as "Wendy and Lisa", replaced Dez Dickerson in 1983)
  • Dr. Fink - keyboards, vocals

Now christened "The Revolution", Prince made 1999, his breakthrough album into the US mainstream - mostly on the backs of the hit singles "1999" (a catchy funk tune about nuclear armageddon) and "Little Red Corvette" (an entire Dual Meaning Song using cars as a metaphor for a bad relationship), with the latter being a massive success on both sides of the Atlantic.

Prince's next project was a small film where he played a troubled musical prodigy who is trying to become a star despite his Jerkass behavior threatening to drive away his bandmates. The Revolution and other associates all appeared using their real names, except Prince's character who was named "The Kid". The film was called Purple Rain, with French composer Michel Colombier composing the score. 1984 thus turned out to be Prince's best year: the soundtrack album Purple Rain was a massive success, spending 6 consecutive months at #1 on the US charts; the film got nominated for Academy Awards and grossed over $68 million at the box office ($186 million when adjusted for inflation); and four of the singles drawn from it were smash hits: "When Doves Cry", "Let's Go Crazy", "Purple Rain" and "I Would Die 4 U", with the first two becoming Prince's first two #1 singles in the US, and "When Doves Cry" becoming the biggest-selling single of 1984 according to Billboard. Purple Rain (the album) not only formalized Prince's burgeoning Xtreme Kool Letterz spelling system but also showed a more theatrical yet still highly catchy variation on the Minneapolis sound, emphasizing a stronger lead guitar presence alongside more classical elements – a recipe for crossover success.

In this period, Prince also got in trouble due to his explicit style. Then-Senator Al Gore's wife Tipper was outraged by hearing her 12-year-old daughter listening to the explicit lyrics of "Darling Nikki" and founded the much-hated Parents Music Resource Center (yes, the inventors of the "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics" sticker).

Following a successful tour marred by occasional tension within the band, Prince & the Revolution released another successful album, Around the World in a Day, this time amplifying the psychedelic elements hinted at with Purple Rain to a vaguely Beatlesque sound. The resulting tour worsened intra-band tension due to Prince's recruitment of additional members (Susannah Melvoin, Eric Leeds, Atlanta Bliss, Jerome Benton, Wally Salford, and Greg Brooks). He also began a new film project named Under the Cherry Moon – a dramatic work starring Prince and Jerome Benton as thieves attempting to swindle the fortunes of a Parisian heiress. While Purple Rain had a lukewarm-but-positive reception, Cherry Moon was savaged by critics due to bad plot and acting, but the film's soundtrack album Parade did well on the charts, with its lead single "Kiss" becoming Prince's third #1 in the US. For the first time, Prince began selling better in Europe than in the United States.

Since the intra-band tension had grown to severe levels by now, Prince disbanded The Revolution in 1986, firing everyone besides Dr. Fink, and Brown Mark, who had quit on his own. A new lineup was assembled, including guitarist Miko Weaver; drummer Sheila E.; Bliss and Leeds on horns; bassist Levi Seacer, Jr; and keyboardist Boni Boyer. Prince then unveiled Sign '☮' the Times in 1987, Prince's first solo effort after the disintegration of The Revolution. Prince was already abandoning the Minneapolis sound for leaner funk production at this point, basing it off of live show jams from the previous few years (one of which is included on Sign.) While the album garnered a much better reception critically and commercially, it marked the beginning of Prince's feud with Warner Bros. Records, after they scrapped his plan to originally release a triple album, Crystal Ball, and forced him to reduce it to a double album - possibly a rare case of positive Executive Meddling. (The Crystal Ball title would go on to be the title of a triple album of rarities released eleven years later.) Prince was still able to have his untitled follow-up album of dark funk replaced with 1988's Lovesexy, a positive funk-pop work that was partially Hijacked by Jesus. Despite Prince's popularity beginning to wane, he was then tapped to create the soundtrack for the 1989 Tim Burton Batman film along with Danny Elfman (Michael Jackson had been in talks to do it, but it never panned out). The soundtrack scored Prince his 4th #1 in the US with "Batdance".

After the rest of his Revolution bandmates drifted away (Dr. Fink, Sheila E., Leeds, Bliss, and so on), Prince debuted a new backing band, The New Power Generation, in 1990. Its members have included:

  • Levi Seacer, Jr. - rhythm guitar (1990-1993)
  • Kat Dyson - rhythm guitar (1996-1997)
  • "Rev." Michael Scott - rhythm guitar (1997-2001, 2004, 2006)
  • Sonny T. - bass (1990-1996)
  • Rhonda Smith - bass (1996-2004)
  • Rosie Gaines - keyboards, vocals (1990-1992)
  • Tommy Barbarella - keyboards (1991-1996)
  • Kip Blackshire - keyboards, backing vocals (1999-2001)
  • Renato Neto - keyboards (2002-2008)
  • Michael Bland - drums (1990-1996)
  • Kirk Johnson - percussion, backing vocals, dancing, drums, drum machine programming (1990-1993, 2000-2001)
  • John Blackwell - drums (2000-2004)
  • Maceo Parker - horns (1999-2007)
  • Tony Morris - horns (1998-2000)
  • Greg Boyer - horns (2001-2008)
  • Tony M. - rapping, dancing (1990-1993)
  • Mayte Garcia - backing vocals, dancing (1992-1996)
  • Mr. Hayes - keyboards (1993-2012)
... and many others.

Prince's introduction for the New Power Generation was Graffiti Bridge, a sequel to Purple Rain, in which The Kid is challenged by Morris Day of The Time into a battle of wits and music over the affection of an angel-like female character. The film fell out of the box office quickly, with praise going solely towards the music of the film. Undaunted, Prince released Diamonds and Pearls, the first album under the name Prince and the New Power Generation in 1991. Combining funk with new jack swing and contemporary rhythm and blues, Diamonds yielded the highly successful singles "Gett Off" and "Cream", the latter being Prince's fifth and final #1 hit in the US. The Love Symbol album followed (so named after the unpronounceable symbol that graces its cover), which rounded out Prince's radio marketability for nearly a decade, with the singles "7" and "My Name Is Prince."
It was at this point that Prince's commercial success and audience began dwindling. Prince began publicly feuding with Warner Brothers over the terms of his contract. Albums of questionable quality were seeing release as a means to get out of his contract – including, unsuccessfully, the release of the shelved Black Album in 1994. Prince even wrote "Slave" across his face for public appearances, and changed his name to the unpronounceable "love symbol" in 1993, leading to the nickname "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince" courtesy of a befuddled media and public who had no clue what to actually call him. Like The Revolution, the New Power Generation only received co-billing credit on three albums. This band stuck around well into the 2000s, however.

Prince's freedom from Warner Bros. came in 1996 when he promptly released a triple album titled Emancipation. He continued to release albums, playing to a small but dedicated group of fans while his work went largely unnoticed in pop culture. A failed attempt at recapturing success, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, was released in 1999. When his contract with Warner Bros expired in 2000, Prince made a statement that he was changing his name back to Prince, rather than the symbol he had adopted to detach himself from them. Prince made another bid for the mainstream with the album Musicology, this time with a successful pair of singles and a performance opening the 2004 Grammy Awards.

Prince ended up holding a larger audience than during his off-label years in The '90s but still not matching his peak popularity. He simultaneously released albums through regular distribution channels as well as online exclusive albums, eventually settling on platforms that benefit him the most artistically and financially (such as 20TEN being released as a free covermount on some European newspapers.) In 2012, he became the frontman for an otherwise all-female rock band, 3RDEYEGIRL. The band also simultaneously acted as Prince's current backing band, transforming many of his older songs into classic hard rock tracks in the vein of his own "Bambi" and "Temptation"; and were sometimes augmented by the NPG Hornz. In 2014, he and Warner Bros. kissed and made up, and he released two new albums, ART OFFICIAL AGE and PLECTRUMELECTRUM (with 3RDEYEGIRL).

Prince reportedly had hundreds upon hundreds of unreleased songs, albums, and even movies in his "vault". If true, he had so much music in the vault that a new album could have been released every year for the next 100 years. Prince wrote more than one thousand songs, making him a poster boy for Archive Panic. Most were released under his own name, some were released under pseudonyms and pen names, while others were recorded and released by other artists. Associates and "spinoff bands" of the latter mostly involved others recording vocals over his own songs with his own lyrics (Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, Mazarati, Madhouse, The Family), with some such spinoff bands managing to win creative independence (Sheila E., The Time), or others not being involved with him at all (Wendy & Lisa - considering Prince's conflicts with them led to The Revolution breaking up, that's not at all surprising.) We have a page for them over at Prince's Associates.

He won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award, and was one of the few people to have simultaneously managed a #1 movie, album, and single in the same year (Purple Rain, Music from the Motion Picture Purple Rain and "When Doves Cry" / "Let's Go Crazy", respectively. "When Doves Cry" was also crowned the song of 1984 by Billboard.) He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the first year he was eligible in 2004. In that same year Rolling Stone ranked Prince #28 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. 2007 saw some of his biggest exposure ever when he played the halftime show of Super Bowl XLI (notable for being performed in a thunderstorm - "Purple Rain" indeed!), which is still considered one of the best halftime shows ever.

Even in his mid-50s, Prince never slowed down. His performances never became less impassioned but his intense dancing style finally caught up with him when in 2016, he began having severe hip pains, for which he was prescribed painkillers. That April, he was found dead in his Minnesota compound at the age of 57 from what was originally described as flu-like symptoms, later revealed to be an opioid overdose.

Behind him, the Purple One left quite a legacy, and the Prince estate keep that legacy in the public eye with reissues of albums like 1999, Purple Rain and Sign o' the Times, all of which are remastered and generously expanded with single edits, extended versions, and previously unreleased outtakes. They've also slowly rolled out some posthumous albums, most notably Originals, i.e. the original demos of songs he went on to give to other artists (such as The Bangles' "Manic Monday"). And the estate is only just getting started.

He was apparently really good at basketball; just ask Charlie Murphy.note 

Studio Discography:

  • 1978: For You
  • 1979: Prince
  • 1980: Dirty Mind
  • 1981: Controversy
  • 1982: 1999 (with the Revolution)
  • 1984: Purple Rain (soundtrack album; with the Revolution)
  • 1985: Around the World in a Day (with the Revolution)
  • 1986: Parade (soundtrack album; with the Revolution)
  • 1987: Sign o' the Times
  • 1988: Lovesexy
  • 1989: Batman
  • 1989: The Scandalous Sex Suite (EP, which extends the single "Scandalous" into a three-part suite, featuring then-girlfriend Kim Basinger)
  • 1990: Graffiti Bridge (soundtrack album; with the New Power Generation)
  • 1991: Diamonds and Pearls (with the New Power Generation)
  • 1992: Love Symbol Albumnote  (with the New Power Generation)
  • 1994: Come
  • 1994: Untitlednote 
  • 1995: The Gold Experience
  • 1996: Chaos and Disorder
  • 1996: Emancipation
  • 1998: Crystal Ball (3-CD rarities collection)
    • 1998: The Truth (acoustic album, shipped with Crystal Ball)
    • 1998: Kamasutra (orchestral album credited to the NPG Orchestra, shipped with preordered copies of Crystal Ball)
  • 1999: The Vault: Old Friends 4 Sale (compilation of re-recorded rarities)
  • 1999: Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic
  • 2001: The Rainbow Children
  • 2002: One Nite Alone... (live album)
  • 2003: Xpectation
  • 2003: N.E.W.S
  • 2004: Musicology
  • 2004: The Chocolate Invasion (online-exclusive)
  • 2004: The Slaughterhouse (online-exclusive)
  • 2004: C-Note (online-exclusive)
  • 2006: 3121
  • 2007: Planet Earth
  • 2008: Indigo Nights (live album, released as part of a coffee table book)
  • 2009: LOtUSFLOW3R
  • 2009: MPLSound (packaged with LOtUSFLOW3R, and protégé Bria Valente's album Elixer)
  • 2010: 20TEN
  • 2014: Art Official Age
  • 2014: Plectrumelectrum (with 3rdEyeGirl)
  • 2015: HITnRUN: phase one
  • 2015: HITnRUN: phase two

Posthumous Discography:

  • 2018: Piano and a Microphone 1983 note 
  • 2019: Originalsnote 
  • 2021: Welcome 2 America
  • 20??: Camille (upcoming)note 

Trope Namer for:

Welcome 2 the dawn. U have just accessed The Trope Experience.

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  • Alternate Album Cover:
    • The original CD release of Around the World in a Day was in a longbox-sized gatefold package, with the CD held in a card sleeve tucked in a slot inside the gatefold. Later pressings would do away with this in favor of a conventional jewel case.
    • The American and initial European releases of Diamonds and Pearls feature a photo of Prince posing with Lori Werner and Robia LaMorte, framed by a border depicting strings of pearls against a gold backdrop; early CD and cassette releases additionally featured a holographic effect on the cover. Later European releases and the international release, meanwhile, feature a different photo of the three that takes up the entire cover.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Played with early on, before Prince jumped ship and decided to devote himself to women exclusively.
  • And This Is for...: Used in "Lady Cab Driver", except with sex instead of violence.
  • Appeal to Novelty: There were several moments in the mid-nineties where Prince pointed out that his new material was better simply because it was new. He tried getting Come (the old and busted) and The Gold Experience (the new hotness) released at the same time to try to prove this point.
    • "Gold", the final song from The Gold Experience, was called "the next 'Purple Rain'" in press releases. It tried but really fell short.
  • Arc Words: The phrase "May u live 2 see the dawn" in music and film credits. Reportedly at several points in his career, he considered releasing an album called The Dawn'. Near the end of his Warner Bros. contract, the phrase became "Welcome 2 the dawn," with his first official website being named The Dawn and the last track of his album The Truth being titled "Welcome 2 the Dawn."
  • Artist and the Band: The Revolution is one of his many side projects. The album Around the World in a Day is credited to Prince And The Revolution (the band was also present on 1999 (Album) although uncredited).
    • After The Revolution disbanded in 1986, Prince assembled a new backing band called The New Power Generation (or sometimes NPG) that played on most of his albums from 1990 on, with five of those albums (beginning with 1991's Diamonds & Pearls) specifically credited to "Prince and the New Power Generation". NPG also released three albums of their own material and have toured independently since Prince's death.
    • In relation to Prince's Associates, The Time occasionally referred to themselves as Morris Day and The Time.
  • Ascended Meme: The 2014 song "THIS COULD BE US" was written about this image macro.
  • Author Avatar: The Kid in Purple Rain and Graffiti Bridge, plus his character in Under the Cherry Moon. All two of them are really unpleasant, annoying folks.
  • Author Tract: The Rainbow Children: a thinly veiled concept album about being a Jehovah's Witness.
  • Auto Erotica: "Little Red Corvette". Also serves as Double Entendre.
  • Auto-Tune: First used on 2006's "Incense & Candles" on one of the backing vocals. Used a lot on MPLSoUND.
  • Badass Boast: "My Name Is Prince" is basically a four-minute-long one of these.
  • Bawdy Song: The poster child of this trope, with a fair amount of Intercourse with You alongside, what with the number of colorful metaphors and outright requests for it in 90% of his back catalog. He even wrote a call-and-response anthem for the act called "Sex", but when it comes to being explicit, the following pretty much take the cake: "Sister" (some Miniscule Rocking about Brother–Sister Incest), "Let's Pretend We're Married" (with the charming declaration "I sincerely wanna fuck the taste out of your mouth. Can U relate?"), "Darling Nikki" (the song that spurned the PMRC hearings that ultimately gave us the Parental Advisory stickers), "Erotic City", "Le Grind," "Cindy C," and "Lady Cab Driver" ("come and take me for a ride").
  • Ballad of X: "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker".
  • Big Rock Ending: "Let's Go Crazy" appears to end with one of these, but then goes into an unaccompanied guitar solo which leads back into another Big Rock Ending that closes the song.
  • Boastful Rap: "My Name is Prince".
  • Bowdlerise: What he did with many of his lyrics in live shows after his conversion to Jehovah's Witness.
  • Brainless Beauty: Alluded to in "Raspberry Beret."
    She wasn't 2 bright
    But I could tell by the way she kissed me
    She knew how 2 get her kicks
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: A quick instance of this occurs in "Take Me With U"; after Prince sings the line "You shoot perfection", Apollonia says "Thank you!".
  • Brother–Sister Incest: "Sister". Apparently, incest is all it's cracked up to be...
  • Camp Straight: For his dedication to women and female pleasure, his outfits and personality are wildly outlandish and flamboyant. In fact, he takes his obsession with women up to eleven with his songs, which feature topics that most musicians wouldn't touch upon, like incest ("Sister"), and rape (the demo of "Extralovable").
  • Careful with That Axe: Dude could scream — even if it does sound feminine.
  • The Casanova: He's probably "recruited" more "proteges" in a week than any man can in five years, despite looking like he frequently wears said "proteges"' clothes and looks better in them than they do.
  • Child Prodigy: Rumor has it that he had an album's worth of songs written, for which he could perform all of the instruments, as young as fifteen, and only didn't record his first album at that age because the record labels didn't want to sign a minor, forcing him to wait four years to do so.
  • Cleavage Window: Invoked with a pair of cleavage window pants at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: You think "Darling Nikki", the song that almost singlehandedly spurred the formation of the PMRC and the invention of the Tipper sticker (you know the one - 'Parental Advisory: Explicit Content') was scandalous? A full 2 years earlier, Prince dropped the following ad-lib on "Let's Pretend We're Married":
    I want 2 fuck U so bad it hurts, it hurts, it hurts
    I want 2, I want 2, I want 2, I want 2, I want 2, I want 2, I want 2 fuck U
    Yeah, I want 2, I want 2, I want 2 want 2, I want 2 fuck U
    Look here Marsha, I'm not sayin' this just 2 B nasty
    I sincerely want 2 fuck the taste out of your mouth
    Can U relate?
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Downplayed. A lot of people expected this trope to be a norm for him, being a reclusive, creative genius who worked all hours of the day and night. While he was extremely flamboyant and sometimes didn't understand that the world didn't revolve around his own idiosyncrasies, he was rather grounded in business and maintained a healthy private life with a family that he adored. However, by the end of his life, Prince claimed that he didn't have to eat or drink anymore. He also believed in the chemtrail conspiracy theory.
    • Kevin Smith spent roughly 30 minutes of his Q&A film An Evening With Kevin Smith talking about Prince's eccentricities when he was invited to film a documentary for the musician.
      Kevin Smith: [recalling one of Prince's employees] "Let me explain something to you about Prince. Prince doesn't comprehend things the way you and I do...Prince has been living in Prince World for quite some time now."
    • In one interview, Prince claimed that he was born epileptic and suffered from seizures in his childhood, and all but confirmed it in the lyrics to "The Sacrifice of Victor".
  • Compliment Backfire: Supermodel Cindy Crawford, the subject of "Cindy C" on The Black Album, didn't like the song.
  • Concept Album:
    • Love Symbol was supposed to be one, in which the "crown princess of Cairo" (played by then-girlfriend Mayte) is saved by Prince from her double-crossing bodyguards, who were after her "3 Chains o' Gold". Most of the story got cut out so Prince could fit one more song in, so all that's left on the album is Kirstie Alley trying to interview Prince.
    • Come is linked conceptually by a poem that appears in bits throughout the album.
    • The Rainbow Children is ostensibly about the Banished Ones taking over all of Earth save the haven of the titular Rainbow Children, which is covered in a "digital garden"; the Rainbow Children then go canvassing to collect enough people for a fight between them and the Banished Ones, cribbing a lot of Jehovah's Witnesses spirituality into a more Princian dialect along the way. Its real concept might as well be "Prince ranting about shit for an hour. Fauxlosophically."
    • The Scandalous Sex Suite is a concept EP. The concept is Prince getting it on with Kim Basinger. (They were dating at the time.)
  • Control Freak: One of pop music's most notorious.
    • Even in his heyday with The Revolution, Purple Rain is the only album that features the full band performing for the majority of the record (six songs, compared to Around the World in a Day's three and Parade's two.) Very few artists got a decent level of respect for their own style and input out of him (Wendy & Lisa, Matt Fink, Sheila E., and Eric Leeds being among the few.)
    • Prince also had a habit of micro-managing every band he formulated. Albums by Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, Jill Jones, The Time, The Family, Sheila E., and more were written, recorded, and performed entirely by him, rarely with contributions by the bands in question (in the case of the first four artists, only the singers contributed and even then, they followed Prince's guide vocal track to the letter and Prince was always involved on backup vocals.) The Time famously never got to play on their own albums until their fourth one. Only time will tell if his more recent projects, such as New Power Generation and Bria Valente, will reveal that they received the same treatment.
  • Darker and Edgier: The cyber-funk moodiness of 1999 flew in the face of his first four records. The Black Album's trip into Bizarro World flew in the face of everything. Come was also pretty moody, as it was intended to showcase how bad Prince was and how awesome The Artist Formerly Known as Prince was. Warner Bros. chose not to release Come and The Gold Experience at the same time though, so that last one went unnoticed for a while.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The song "Around the World in a Day" owes its existence to this. Long story short, Prince invited Lisa Coleman's brother David to their then-studio (an abandoned warehouse full of recording equipment on Flying Cloud Drive in Eden Prairie, Minnesota) for his birthday in June 1984 and allowed him two days of studio time as a present. Afterward, Prince listened to what David had recorded and liked it so much that he added his own input, and after a re-recording with The Revolution, it became the title track and first song for his next album. (The finished track also arguably qualifies as a Sibling Team moment, since David Coleman [cello, oud, finger cymbals, darbuka, and sings backing vocals] and Jonathan Melvoin [tambourine and backing vocals] share contributions with their sisters.)
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Zigzagged. He's very well known for his stance against digital media, piracy, and concert taping, and is just as easily mocked for the various Frivolous Lawsuits that stem from said beliefs.
  • Digital Piracy Is Okay: He was however excited over Napster and the possibilities it gave to music aficionados to consume their music. He was also excited that a challenge to the record label model was emerging, having been in conflict with Warner Bros. for years and lacking ownership over the masters to his recordings, taking digs at then Time Warner president Richard Parsons to full effect over the latter's hypocrisy regarding protecting intellectual property.
  • Distinct Double Album: More like Distinct Triple Album. Emancipation was spread into three discs at exactly 12 tracks and 60 minutes each. Disc one is focused more on modern, funk-influenced R&B. Disc two is more spiritual and is devoted to his then-new marriage to former backup dancer Mayte. Disc three is a bit of a grab-bag of different styles including electronic dance music, plus a couple of covers ("La-La (Means I Love You)" by The Delfonics, "One Of Us" by Joan Osborne). Needless to say, Emancipation is quite an undertaking, with the sheer length of the album commonly garnering accusations of Album Filler from fans.
  • Dual-Meaning Chorus: "Little Red Corvette", which uses car metaphors to explain a bad relationship.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Prince, an 11-year-old elementary school student at the time, was interviewed by a Minneapolis TV station in 1970 for a story about a teachers' strike.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Prince's first two albums. Prepare for generic disco-funk and a very high falsetto voice. This is most noticeable with "I Wanna Be Your Lover", which usually winds up as the only representation of this era on his greatest hits albums. What people think when they hear the name "Prince" started in 1980, but he still kept a lot of the old-school funk sensibilities until 1982.
  • End of an Age: Music analyst Michaelangelo Matos considered Sign '☮' the Times to be one for popular music in two senses. The first is that it marked the end of the phonograph record's status as the dominant medium for music distribution, being the last double-LP to achieve blockbuster-level sales; additionally, its fourth single, "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" was the last of Prince's to not immediately receive a CD release. The second sense is that Sign '☮' the Times was the last commercially successful album from a black artist to predate Hip-Hop's emergence as the dominant genre in black music.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "1999" is a strangely happy song about this.
  • Epic Rocking: "1999", "Let's Pretend We're Married", "D.M.S.R.", "Automatic", "All the Critics Love U in New York", "Purple Rain", "Temptation", "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man", the original version of "Computer Blue" (see What Could Have Been on the Trivia page), etc., etc.
    • The 12'' single version of "America" runs 21 minutes long because Prince and the Revolution jammed away until they had no more room left on tape. This was covered by a quick fade-out. Many of Prince's other 12"s of the 80s, like "America", feature the original version of the song, while the album and 7" feature edited versions. One notable exception is the 12" version of "Kiss" and "I Wish U Heaven", which consist of separate sections.
    • The first CD issue of Lovesexy was indexed as one 45:07 track without any separation between songs, to force listeners to listen to it in its entirety.
    • Then there's his guitar work, from the blistering coda of "Let's Go Crazy" to his show-stealing solo from when he joined Tom Petty in performing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps".
    • In live performance, he'd tease the endings of "Purple Rain" and "Kiss" with about seven fake endings until each was 20 minutes long.
  • Fading into the Next Song: Most of the second side of Dirty Mind does this, although "Uptown" was released as a single with a proper ending.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: The end of The Black Album fades back in long enough for Prince to exclaim, "What kinda fuck ending was that?" before quickly fading out again.
  • Fanservice: Prince has probably appeared more often nude or half nude than any other male singer of his generation.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: His Gemini character from "Batdance" wears half of a Joker outfit and half of a made-up Batman costume.
  • Friendly Rivalry:
    • Enforced early on by Prince, between himself, his bandmates, and even the other bands he toured with. Tales of Prince's shenanigans are so legendary that not many are sure how much of the film Purple Rain required acting. Prince also notably created Morris Day's character with a rivalry between that character and his own Prince persona in mind. Several of these rivalries started to become antagonistic and ultimately caused The Revolution and his relations with members of The Time to fall apart. Prince calmed down since, for the most part. To add to this, Prince created rivalries with himself in 1982: The Time were credited with providing the backing music for Vanity 6's album (in reality performed by Prince), so on The Time's second album, they scream "We don't like New Wave!" after a song that makes fun of it. Prince also called out Jamie Starr, the producer persona he himself used for both Vanity 6 and The Time, as a thief on his song "D.M.S.R." Considering how bad things went with both versions of The Revolution, he stopped antagonizing everyone around him starting in the nineties.
    • Inverted with fellow Funk Rock musician Rick James. From the time Prince opened for Rick's 1979 Fire It Up tour until James' death in 2004, they were in a fierce rivalry with each other. Rick James' career fell apart in 1984 due to Prince's success with Purple Rain and James' increasingly crazy cocaine-fueled lifestyle.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The video for "Alphabet St." features two instances of this. After Prince is shown driving the Thunderbird mentioned in the lyrics, the message "H is 4 punks" appears very rapidly onscreen. At the end of the first verse, another split-second message appears, saying "Don't buy The Black Album. I'm sorry."
  • Genre Mashup: Prince's "Minneapolis Sound" involves a huge smashing-together of Funk, New Wave, rock, pop, soul/R&B, and psychedelic rock.
  • Genre Roulette: A grandmaster. Can also just as easily fall under Genre-Busting.
    • Whether he was doing them individually or all at the same time, Prince was well-versed in countless styles of popular music such as rock, funk, R&B, Synth-Pop, Latin pop, and even jazz. The double album Lotusflow3r/MPLSoUND makes this explicit by having the first album be all "band" music (rock, funk, and soul) while the second is all Synth-Pop.
    • Prince's body of work during the 80s blended sounds together to the point that it became known as the Minneapolis Sound, which was practiced by The Time, Vanity 6/Apollonia 6, and basically all Prince's associates and side projects. Just think, Prince was so prolific that he basically created an entire scene by himself. That said, it didn't last past the 1980s.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Purple Rain (album), specifically the track "Darling Nikki", directly led to a US Senate committee forcing the RIAA and several major labels to put "Parental Advisory: Explicit Content" stickers on American albums to warn for explicit lyrics in 1985. Despite this, Purple Rain has never received the sticker.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: If somebody wanders into Prince's orbit and happens to speak Spanish, he will not hesitate to use that. This is most noticeable on some of his associates' albums, chiefly from Apollonia Kotero and Mayte Garcia, but he also indulged in it with "Te Amo Corazón" from 3121.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: In "Raspberry Beret", the first verse starts off by talking about the narrator's job at the store and his problems with his manager. Then the girl with the raspberry beret walks in and there goes that whole plotline.
  • Has a Type: Both Prince's videos and his personal life were heavily populated with olive-skinned beauties with long, dark hair. (See: both his wives, Vanity, Apollonia, Sheila E....) Prince lampshaded this in "Future Baby Mama":
    👁've heard it said my lovers look alike
    Could it be 👁 was searching for you?
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: The backing track of "Sex in the Summer" samples the heartbeat of Prince and Mayte's then-unborn son. Yes, the one that died at six days old.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • If Charlie Murphy is to be believed, Prince is an incredibly talented basketball player. While he did confirm that there was a game of hoops with Murphy's crew, but it wasn't that Prince himself played that great, it was that Murphy wasn't that good...
    • He was also an avid ping-pong player, having actually challenged Michael Jackson and Jimmy Fallon to matches and beat them. Although he did lose to Cece.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": Even today, there are those for whom it was never clear before: Prince is, in fact, the man's given name.
  • Hollywood Autism: Subverted with "Starfish and Coffee". The song's about an actual autistic girl that Prince's girlfriend at the time knew, but the song at no point invokes stereotypes of the condition and presents an overall sympathetic view towards the girl, if a bit whimsical.
  • Hypocritical Humour:
    • He derided rappers as tone-deaf on "Dead on It", then started incorporating it into his music on Lovesexy's "Alphabet St." and even more so in The '90s (cf. "Gett Off" and "My Name Is Prince").
    • He dedicates a verse of "We March" from The Gold Experience to lecturing his audience not to call women "bitches" (not to mention trashing Gangsta Rap for the same reason on "Days of Wild"), but only six songs later he blindsides them with a song called "Billy Jack Bitch" (which loops you-know-which exclamation from Fishbone's "Lyin' Ass Bitch").
  • I Am the Band: "Produced, Arranged, Composed, and Performed by Prince." Considering how many instruments he not only played but played incredibly well, yeah, he kind of is, although he obviously had to form backing bands for live performances. Lampshaded and parodied on a season 10 Saturday Night Live cold opening where Prince (played by Billy Crystal) sings a "We Are the World" parody called "I Am Also the World" with his back-up dancers (played by Mary Gross and Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and any time another musician (in this case, Willie Nelson [played by James Belushi], Bruce Springsteen [played by Gary Kroeger], and Cyndi Lauper [played by Pamela Stephenson]) tries to duet with Prince, his bodyguards [played by episode hosts Mr. T and Hulk Hogan] would beat the snot out of them.
  • I Call Him "Mister Happy": Even with a song called "Mr. Happy", reportedly Prince named his penis Valentino, and wrote "Manic Monday" for the The Bangles to woo their lead singer, Susanna Hoffs. Have fun never hearing "Manic Monday" the same way again!
  • In the End, You Are on Your Own: There's something oddly poignant about Prince's last tour before his passing; it was a series of shows with nothing but Prince and a grand piano.
  • Incompatible Orientation: "Bambi," in which the narrator falls hard for a lesbian and gets a little indignant about it.
  • Instrumentals: Very very few early on - "Venus de Milo" and "2 Nigs United 4 West Compton" were the only ones to make it onto albums in The '80s. "Alexa De Paris," the b-side to "Mountains," was another. There's more on Kamasutra, Xpectation, C-Note and N.E.W.S.
  • Insufferable Genius: Stories abound of Prince's Jerkass behavior, which was also the source of The Revolution's breakup. He didn't exactly try to hide it in his films either. Dude was like the James Cameron of music or something.
    • For some inexplicable reason, most of his jerkassery seemed to be aimed at Wendy & Lisa. Instead of scrounging up the old Revolution stories, here's a more recent one: in 1998 he announced a Prince & the Revolution comeback album called Roadhouse Garden and tried to get the duo involved. They reasonably asked for some compensation and said no when he didn't offer any. Then he went and blamed them for the album being shelved.
    • Elton John said of a meeting with Prince, "I went up to Prince and said, 'I'm a big fan of your stuff,' and he looked at me and just walked off... left me standing there like a twat. He's a prat, but he's a clever prat."
    • During the Nude Tour, Prince constantly picked on guitar Miko Weaver, something biographer Alex Hahn and other bandmates suggest was due to him feeling jealous that Weaver had a bigger Groupie Brigade and was generally more popular with the ladies. In a pre-tour rehearsal, Prince even challenged Weaver to "take this shit outside", to which Weaver snarked "Yeah like I'm gonna come outside with you and your bodyguards" and walked out, but was eventually convinced to return for the tour.
    • During the same Nude Tour, Rosie Gaines complained that she was being mistreated by dancers Tony M., Kirky J., and Damon Dickson, but Prince simply moved her to Mavis Staples' tour bus instead of reprimanding them.
    • Kevin Smith has a diatribe on Prince's eccentric behavior after Prince asked Smith to direct a short film for him.
    • When The Time regrouped to make a new album in 2011, Prince wouldn't let them use that name, to which he owned the rights. They are now known as The Original 7even.
    • "Weird Al" Yankovic famously ribbed Prince for years for not allowing him to parody any of his songs (Al always asks for artist permission first; the closest he ever got was the "Let's Go Crazy" sound-alike "Traffic Jam"). At an award show, he receives a telegram saying that he wasn't allowed to make eye contact with Prince. Al's response? "Well, then he's not allowed to look at me."
  • The Immodest Orgasm: The end of "International Lover", complete with one of Prince's famous screams.
  • Intercourse with You: Prince, in his heyday, was the pure essence of sexual naughtiness. About half of his songs are about this. Dirty Mind practically makes a Concept Album out of this trope.
  • Jazz: Yes, Prince made some jazz music here and there. You can hear him toy with this sound on The Rainbow Children, but he mostly saved it for fan-only releases, such as Xpectation, N.E.W.S. and C-Note.
  • Large Ham: Prince really invoked this trope on songs where he lets out that legendary scream. He could be subtle if the song called for it, but he was not at all afraid to be theatrical. For just one example, the coda to "Temptation" from Around The World In A Day is Prince perving on some young lady, then being reprimanded by God, and shrieking in horror at what his sinful behavior has wrought. It's very, very over-the-top, as you can probably imagine.
  • The Last DJ: He was committed to his artistic freedom, even if it meant changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol.
  • Last Note Nightmare: "Do Me, Baby" is pretty soothing for the most part, but the very end is pretty creepy and ominous sounding. "Gotta Broken Heart Again" is a simple ballad that ends with a massively amplified guitar thunk that sounds like a gunshot.
  • Lead Singer Plays Lead Guitar: He was famous not just for his voice, but for his skilled guitar playing as well.
  • Letters 2 Numbers: Prince was one of the earliest musicians to employ this trope, and it became a mainstay in his song titles. "Nothing Compares 2 U," "I Would Die 4 U," "Money Don't Matter 2 Night," and so on.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: Woe to the poor fan with sensitive tastes who is introduced to Prince's decidedly less-sexual later material and works their way back to "Darling Nikki." Or "Lady Cab Driver." Or practically the entirety of Dirty Mind.
  • Lighter and Softer: In an intentional case of this trope, every aspect of "Lovesexy" was bubblegum and sunshine. And Jesus. He saw the untitled black album as something inherently evil and sought to distance himself from it with Lovesexy.
  • Lucky Charms Title: Sign '☮' the Times and "❤ or $" are good examples. Prince also started using "👁" in 1988 to replace the word "I"; since it appeared beside another song called "I Wish U Heaven", some fans romanize the symbol as "Eye" (as in "Eye Love U, but Eye Don't Trust U Anymore".) Prince took this even further with the symbol later used for his name, which was first used as the title for his fourteenth album.
  • Loophole Abuse: The reason he switched to using an unpronounceable symbol in The '90s. Stuck in a bad deal with his record label, he found that they didn't own anything he released under another name.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Implied in the chorus of "Electric Chair":
    If a man is considered guilty 4 what goes on in his mind
    Then give me the electric chair 4 all my future crimes
  • Love Is Like Religion: "7" plays heavily into religious imagery, including comparing the singer's lover to an angel and saying their love will defeat the Seven Deadly Sins.
  • Lyrical Cold Open:
    • The big group vocal from "7." "OHHHH SEVEN AND WE'LL WATCH THEM FALL..."
    • "Life Of The Party" from Musicology has one from a backup singer.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art:
    • For You featured a blur of Prince's face.
    • Parade featured Prince's upper body in a pose.
    • The Batman soundtrack featured a close-up of the logo.
    • The Hits / The B-Sides featured Prince's face in profile.
    • The untitled black album was a black sleeve, with only the tracklisting and production code number written in peach.
    • One Nite Alone… Live! and 3121 featured portraits, with the latter being from behind.
  • The Minneapolis Sound: Not even his biggest rivals could say they created their own genre. A fusion of new wave, funk, R&B, and rock, Prince would develop several artists on both Warner and his Paisley Park label to expand on the sound (The Time, Vanity, etc), and others outside his circle would draw from it, like Janet Jackson.
  • Misogyny Song: Some of his unreleased material goes here, like "It Takes 3" (ladies, Sonny T. doesn't want to know you unless you have friends for threesomes!) and "Extra Loveable" (where after a bunch of normal lyrics expressing attraction to an unnamed woman, Prince suddenly starts singing about how he's going to rape her and drag her into the tub for a bath if she resists.)
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: Given that he insisted on having bands that were racially mixed and with musicians of both genders, it's not surprising that this applied to his audience as well. In the 2002 WWE Divas Magazine, both Sharmell and Lita said that he was their first crush. Sharmell Sullivan-Huffman was born in Gary, Indiana and is a college-educated former Miss Black America. Amy "Lita" Dumas is a Caucasian college dropout from an impoverished background in Sanford, Florida and experience as a Punk Rock singer. Thus, Prince's appeal extended beyond race and gender to people of different classes as well.
  • New Jack Swing: Prince is the proto-example, as his "Minneapolis Sound" was part of the basis for it, alongside hip-hop, but the man himself wouldn't fully embrace the genre until 1991's Diamonds and Pearls. Afterwards, he began crafting new jack hits for other artists like Markita, Tevin Campbell, and Mavis Staples.
  • New Sound Album: Dirty Mind (showing off the Minneapolis Sound) 1999 (leaning into dystopian cyber-funk); Purple Rain (adding psychedelic bits, pushing the rock and pop parts forward, showing off The Revolution); Around the World in a Day (dialing up the psychedelia); Sign the Times (first post-Revolution solo album, more stripped-down arrangements and production); The Black Album (pure funk with bits of Funk Metal); Lovesexy (poppy); Graffiti Bridge (better technology); Diamonds and Pearls (dropping the '80s inklings for more soul, R&B and new jack swing.)
  • New Technology Is Evil: OH GOD YES. Prince was pretty much against the Internet and the usage of MP3s and such. He even went out of his way to have any songs of his removed from YouTube, most notably a live video of his cover of the Radiohead song "Creep," only letting it back up when the band and their fans began to complain. There is also the fact that if you had his music online, he would not hesitate to sue you or ruin you. However, Prince would use an electronic platform only if it benefitted him financially. He famously set up the NPG Music Club to distribute music and videos, and in 2015, swapped from Apple Music and Spotify to Tidal, since it seemed to give him the best cut. The kicker to all this is that in The '90s, Prince won awards and was seen as a big trailblazer for his use of the Internet to promote his music - of course, this is before the Internet exploded by the end of the decade. Only after his death would his music (but not all of it) eventually be released on Apple Music and Spotify, and only in the summer of 2017 would a new official Prince channel be created on YouTube to upload his music videos.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: "When Doves Cry" is probably the most famous example of a song that doesn't even have a bass line. If that doesn't work, there's his other #1 single, "Kiss".
  • No Ending:
    • "Batdance" cuts to a sudden halt with a sample of Michael Keaton saying "Stop."
    • Prince ran out of tape while recording the extended version of "America", so they added a fade out to hide it. Ditto for "I Would Die 4 U", only they trimmed 20 minutes off as well.
  • No Title: The album commonly referred to as The Black Album was intended to be released in an entirely black sleeve with the catalog number being the only thing printed on it. The only credit to Prince is a hidden message at the start of the opening song: "So, U found me. Good, I'm glad. This is Prince, the cool of cools…" Another hidden message identified the album as The Funk Bible, and indeed this was the name given to it on early press releases in 1987. When it was officially released in 1994, the packaging remained unchanged, albeit with a sticker on the shrinkwrap identifying it as Prince's work and describing it as "The legendary Black Album." Its supposedly intended name of The Funk Bible has since been reduced to a footnote, with The Black Album being its de-facto name; even Wikipedia refers to it as such!
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: Purple Rain, Under the Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge. Purple Rain easily being considered the best. Over the years UTCM has attained minor cult status among fans.
    • Unsurprisingly, his most acclaimed movies are the concert films Prince and the Revolution: Live (filmed on March 30, 1985, in Syracuse, New York) and Sign "☮" the Times (supposed to have used concert footage from Rotterdam and Antwerp, but those shots turned out grainy and unusable so most of the film, including the segues, was reshot at Paisley Park).
  • Noodle Incident: Why did Prince withdraw the Black Album? Er, hard to say. Stories circulate about how he became convinced it was evil, and some former associates claim that he came up with this idea after having a bad trip on ecstasy. Even when it was issued in 1994 to help complete his contract, his publicist stated he was still "spiritually against" it.
  • Older Than They Look: Looking at Prince, it's hard to believe that he lived to be 57 and he still looked the same as he did in the 1980s.
  • On the Rebound: "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man" from Sign "☮" the Times is all about defying this trope - the narrator has to turn down advances from a girl who's clearly trying to fill the void her recent ex-boyfriend left. The capper is that said girl is now pregnant with her second child from that relationship.
  • One-Letter Name: The symbol, used when he was referred to as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince" Said symbol, while not an alphabetical letter, still had to be printed during this time and Warner Brothers had to send out floppy disks of a special font that included the symbol so that print media could print it.
  • One Name Only: Prince.
  • One-Woman Song: "Zannalee," "Cindy C," "Bambi," "Annie Christian," "Anna Stesia," "Chelsea Rodgers."
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: See The Trope Formerly Known as X.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Prince has dabbled in a lot of genres, usually several within the course of a single album, so it's not often this trope happens, but it has.
    • As part of the Crystal Ball triple album of rarities, among the bonus material included is Kamasutra, an album of Classical Music, composed by Prince and credited to the "NPG Orchestra." It was designed to be played at his wedding to Mayte Garcia, and even by classical standards it's a bit out there, with a lot of synthesized strings, odd detours, and one sudden shift into 90s-era porno music in the back half of the album.
    • Prince dabbled in some jazz in the early 2000s. The Rainbow Children hinted in this direction, and N.E.W.S. was a mostly-improvised experiment in jazz fusion. Otherwise, his jazz material was kept to fan-only releases, like Xpectation.
  • Pictorial Letter Substitution: Prince's official writings (including song titles, lyrics, and press releases) were in "Princebonics," an idiosyncratic style that includes replacing words with appropriate letters, numbers, and symbols. The most prominent element of this is replacing the first-person pronoun "I" with a stylized eye symbol, introduced with the Lovesexy track "👁 No" before becoming standard in the mid-90s. Most fans Romanize the eye symbol as "Eye," which Prince himself nodded to with the Musicology track "If Eye Was the Man in Ur Life".
  • Ping Pong Naïveté: In "Uptown", Prince is approached by a seemingly loose woman and mentions that he's taken aback by the request to "party in Uptown". His internal monologue even calls her "a crazy little mixed up dame / she's a victim of society and all its games." Considering most of the rest of the Dirty Mind album consists of Prince sticking his dick in things, this is kinda jarring.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Stood at only 5'2", but was a talented instrumentalist, first-rate songwriter, and explosive performer.
  • Piss-Take Rap: "Dead on It". "Now the rapper's problem usually stems from being tone deaf..."
  • Pop-Star Composer: Did the '89 Batman soundtrack.
  • Power Ballad: Best match for this criteria: "Purple Rain".
  • Protest Song: Not what he's primarily known for, but "Partyup", "Ronnie Talk to Russia" (although he liked Ronald Reagan), "America", "Sign "☮" the Times", "Dance On", "We March" and "Dear Mr. Man" count. These tend to be a bit Anvilicious though.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Purple is the color he often performs in, inspiring "Purple Rain" too. After his death, a particular hue was even named "Love Symbol #2" and deemed the official color for his merchandise.
  • The Quiet One: Prince and The Revolution ended up interviewed on MTV when the "America" single was released, an interview during which Prince refused to speak and instead let his bandmates answer all the questions.
  • Rap Is Crap: This is the primary subject of "Dead On It", which includes a verse where Prince claims that rappers are just tone-deaf musicians cheating their way to success (ironic considering his later embrace of Hip-Hop elements in the '90s).
  • Rearrange the Song: Some of Prince's songs got stuck in Development Hell and by the time they came out they'd been drastically revised:
    • "Tick, Tick, Bang" was originally recorded in the Controversy sessions as a Punk Rock song with frenzied drumming, monotone synth, and Prince's multitracked vocals. The Graffiti Bridge version somehow grew to include a slower tempo, a beat sampled from Jimi Hendrix, a different synth melody, and more samples.
    • "You" was originally recorded by Prince in 1979 as a rock-oriented side-project called "The Rebels", and it was (appropriately) a riff-driven Power Pop song with a droning synth sequence, not too far removed from what Devo ended up doing the next year with Freedom of Choice. By the time Prince pawned it off to Paula Abdul in 1991 with the Princebonics-ized title of "U", the rock part was absent, and it was now more of a dance song.
    • The other surviving Rebels song, "If I Love You Tonight", wasn't radically changed since it started as a ballad, but Mayte's version has a more obvious R&B influence, with drum machines replacing Bobby Z.'s drums, and Princebonics replacing the normal title.
    • "Alphabet St." and "Kiss" both started out as acoustic blues songs in 1987 and 1985, respectively, and their original demos can be found on bootlegs, the former in drastically shortened form.
    • "Strange Relationship" had originally been recorded in 1982, and reworked with Wendy and Lisa in 1985, gaining a noticeable Indian influence through their playing sitar and wood flute. By the time it came out on Sign the Times, The Revolution had disbanded, and Prince altered the mix to bury their contributions. (They weren't removed, but picking out the sitar and wood flute now requires some more careful listening.)
    • In fact, one of the chief complaints of fans against the Crystal Ball boxset, besides the predominance of material from The '90s, is that the 1980s songs were presented in revised form.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: For someone so heavily guarded and reclusive, it's astounding that Prince let a lot of personal details slide in "The Sacrifice of Victor", including being epileptic as a child due to a complication at birth (the liner notes include the word "TRUE" in reverse beside this lyric) and domestic abuse of himself and his mother at the hands of his father.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Could very well be a Real Life Trope Codifier of this.
  • Record Producer: "Produced, Arranged, Composed and Performed by Prince" ("& the Revolution" for Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day and Parade).
  • Refuge in Audacity: There's been all manner of vulgarity and explicit content on display in Hip-Hop and R&B since 1980, so it can be pretty hard to appreciate just how filthy Dirty Mind was at the time. Songs about threesomes, oral sex, and Brother–Sister Incest weren't something you came across every day, let alone on an ostensibly mainstream pop record. Interestingly, critics often point to this as the album where Prince Grew The Beard.
  • Retraux: MPLSound, if the name wasn't enough of a clue, is basically an entire album of Prince ransacking his 1980s Minneapolis sound. Ironically, he showcased it better on ART OFFICIAL AGE, when he wasn't trying to sound retraux.
  • Rock-Star Song: "Baby I'm a Star"; "My Name Is Prince".
  • Rummage Sale Reject: This is what he and the Revolution dressed like back in The '80s, with heavy doses of Awesome Anachronistic Apparel when the famed ruffled shirts appeared in 1984. They pulled it off.
  • Same Face, Different Name: Might as well be the Trope Namer.
  • Sampling: Many people have sampled his stuff (example: Public Enemy's "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" uses the squealy guitar solo from "Let's Go Crazy"), not really surprising there. Prince himself first dipped into this with the Batman soundtrack, which featured samples taken from a workprint of the movie, with no ADR or foley, and outright made a Voice Clip Song with "Batdance". Starting in The '90s he would use the occasional sample more frequently: "7" is based on the 1960s R&B song "Tramp" by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas, "Tick Tick Bang" yanks the drumbeat from Jimi Hendrix's "Little Miss Lover", one version of the bootlegged "Dis Beat Disrupts" samples the famous "When the Levee Breaks" beat.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying: "1999" is probably the most famous example in modern music.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: During an appearance on The View, Sherri Sheppard blurted out "You don't understand, Prince; I've wanted to make love to you my whole life!" Prince promptly walked off stage.
  • Self-Deprecation: "Prince? That skinny motherfucker with the high voice?"
    • From "Now", a song released during his symbol phase: "Don't worry about my name, it's 2 long 2 remember / I could tell U now but we'd B here 'till next September."
    • The extended version of "Hello" ends with Prince suggesting his critics walk in his shoes, only to note that his shoes are all massive platform shoes because of his short height and that they would fall and die because of it.
    • The unreleased "Blues in C (If I Had a Harem)" pokes fun at his The Casanova reputation.
    • His appearances on New Girl and Muppets Tonight are full of this towards his more Cloudcuckoolander side.
      Prince: "I'm guest-starrin' on the show tonight?
      Bobo: "Uhuh, and your name, sir?"
      Prince: (Looks at camera.) "Ahh, this is gonna be fun."
  • Self-Titled Album: His second album Prince was this. The symbol that was the name of his fourteenth album was later used as his legal name.
  • Sexophone: Surprisingly this is rarely employed, but finally saw use on 1989's three-part "The Scandalous Sex Suite", a 19-minute re-imagining of the song "Scandalous" from the Batman soundtrack. The woman in question being Kim Basinger, who converses with Prince throughout the song. This may have also been used in the infamous Underwear scene from the cinematic classic Graffiti Bridge.
  • Spoken Word in Music: Numerous examples exist throughout his career. The most famous examples would include the start of "Let's Go Crazy".note  The most infamous example would probably be the intro to "Computer Blue":
    *guitar feedback*
    Lisa: Wendy?
    Wendy: Yes, Lisa?
    Lisa: Is the water warm enough?
    Wendy: Yes, Lisa.
    Lisa: Shall we begin?
    Wendy: Yes, Lisa. *Epic Riff*
    • Additional examples include the talk with God at the end of "Temptation", the entirety of "Bob George", the monologue/sermon that comprises the first half of "One Song" and the aforementioned "Scandalous Sex Suite". Smaller examples include the intro to "👁 No", the last few lines of "200 Balloons", and the skits in between a couple of the songs on the Love Symbol album (Prince eventually cut several minutes of skits out of that album to fit one more song in.) The cake-taker is "The War", a 25-minute live jam with Fauxlosophic Narration making up the lyrics.
  • Subdued Section: Too many to count.
  • Subliminal Seduction: Inverted entirely with "Darling Nikki". The song itself is about a "sex fiend" who has her full way with Prince, leaving him a wreck that begs for more. The backward message that concludes the song? "Hello, how R U? I'm fine, 'cause I know that the Lord is coming soon." During live performances on tour, that section would be played forwards because there was no way to properly reproduce it live.
  • Take That!: He's recorded quite a few songs bashing on Warner Bros. Records, like "Dolphin", "Face Down" and "White Mansion".
    • The unreleased song "Extra Loveable" zings departed Revolution guitarist Dez Dickerson with "Hey Dez, don't U like my band?".
    • "My Name Is Prince" was written after Michael Jackson was proclaimed 'The King of Pop' and contains several jabs:
    I ain't sayin' I'm better, no better than you
    But if you want 2 play with me, you better learn the rules
    'You must become a Prince before you're King anyway'
    • Dream Factory was described by Prince as about a 'turncoat' and is usually assumed to be about former 'The Family' member St. Paul Peterson.
  • Take That, Critics!:
    • "All the Critics Love U in New York". The title says it all. Additionally, "Bob George" is rumoured to be a reference to Nelson George, a Billboard and The Village Voice music critic who gave some of his albums bad reviews.note 
    • The b-side "Hello" is a big take that to all of his critics, specifically those who criticized his absence in "We Are the World".
    • "Face Down" is a few minutes of smack talk aimed at both critics and Warner Brothers. It originates from a bad review of The Gold Experience, and Prince getting a kick out of something his keyboard player, Morris Hayes, said in response: "When we die, they can bury us face down and they can kiss our ass on the way out.” Prince turned Hayes' comments into a song within two days.
  • Tamer and Chaster: His albums from Musicology on were noticeably lighter on the explicit sexual content he made himself famous for. Part of this was his becoming a Jehovah's Witness, but also because he felt that he'd taken it as far as it could go and was simply bored with it.
    "The envelope can't be pushed any more! It's been pushed off the table!"
  • Textless Album Cover: The Black Album (<Spinal Tap reference goes here>), Sign the Times and Batman.
  • That Man Is Dead: Come was intended to invoke this; the somber, black and white photographs of Prince in a graveyard, coupled with the "1958-1993" subtitle beside his name, is meant to invoke the imagery of a deceased Prince, who had just adopted the Love Symbol as a stage name. The Gold Experience, the album recorded concurrently with Come, would be the first of Prince's albums to be released under his new moniker.
  • Their First Time: From "Adore": "You made love 2 me like U were afraid… Was U afraid of me? Was I the first? Was I your every fantasy?"
  • Thought Crime: From "Electric Chair":
    If a man is considered guilty
    For what goes on in his mind
    Then give me the electric chair
    For all my future crimes-Oh!
  • Token White: As part of Prince's goal to have a multi-ethnic, multi-gender band of musicians at all times, he did include at least one white member from time to time:
    • Matt Fink spent 1978-1980 as one until Lisa Coleman joined the band. Fink's tenure with Prince lasted in 1990, and in that final year, he was the single white member of the band as well.
    • Tommy Barbarella was part of The New Power Generation from 1992-1996.
    • Candy Dulfer also spent time in The NPG from 2002-2004.
    • Other stages of the band either featured no white performers, or several (Wendy & Lisa, and later, Eric Leeds, alongside Fink; 3RDEYEGIRL's tenure.)
  • Unplugged Version: The Truth, shipped with the Crystal Ball set. It's not as stripped down as you'd think - Prince overdubbed some of his own vocals, sound effects, and other weird stuff. But the meat of the album is simply Prince and an acoustic guitar. Prince was known to go acoustic once in a while during live shows, most notably his mini-set during the Art Of Musicology special.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Plenty.
    • "Dirty Mind": "In my daddy's car, it's U I really wanna drive."
    • "Le Grind": "We're gonna do the grind y'all, gotcha where I wantcha. Girl, it's gonna feel so good. Up and down, up and down, on the beat y'all, like a pony would, pony would."
    • "Cindy C": "I'm sure you're quite intelligent, a whiz at math and all that shit but I'm, I'm a tad more interested in flyin' your kite 2 night..."
    • "Cream": "Cream, get on top; Cream, U will cop; Cream, don't U stop; Cream, sha-boogey-bop."
    • "Come": "Like a strawberry, chocolate, fender jazz, mashed potato fuzztone all over your thighs, oh baby!"
    • "Hot With U": "👁 wanna get U underneath the cream and do the marshmallow."
  • Updated Re Release: Original CD issues of 1999 excluded the Epic Rocking track "D.M.S.R." to allow the double-LP album to fit on one 74-minute Compact Disc. Once the CD format was revised to expand the maximum audio storage capacity to 80 minutes, 1999 was reissued on CD in 1990 with "D.M.S.R." added back in.note 
  • Villain Song: "Dance with the Devil", where The Joker is explicitly compared to Satan.
  • Voice Clip Song: "Batdance" is Frankenstein'd together out of dialogue samples from Batman; vocal quotes from Prince songs from that film's soundtrack; the "Batmaaaan!" of the 1966 Batman theme; a backing track from a song rejected for the film; an entirely unrelated funk riff; and a typically Princetastic guitar solo. It sounds as ridiculous as that description makes it out to be. And it became a #1 single in the US.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Many of Prince's outfits pushed the envelope of defined "unisex", and several openly incorporated elements of women's fashion.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: No surprise given what a Cloud Cuckoolander he was.
    • Invoked in "Let's Go Crazy": "Let's look for the purple banana till they put us in the truck."
    • "Starfish and Coffee," the lyrics of which are derived from stories Prince's then-girlfriend recounted about a real-life autistic girl named Cynthia Rose.
    • Downplayed in "When Doves Cry". The meaning of the title is never explained, though considering doves are a symbol for peace, it likely means something along the lines of "When there's a lot of discord going on".
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Prince was one of the first to use this trope to write his song titles and lyrics, to the point that the system was nicknamed "Princebonics" (and reading it is the easiest way to send your inner Grammar Nazi into fits of fury). Starting in 1981, "to" = "2", "for" = "4", "you" = "U", "are" = "R", and so on. 1988's Lovesexy saw the pronoun "I" being replaced by a stylized "👁"; Prince fans usually Romanize the "👁" as "Eye" instead of "I", as Lovesexy featured two songs named "👁 No" and "I Wish U Heaven".note  A 1986 b-side is called "❤ or $", pronounced "Love or Money". Prince's use of his own system became jarring to read when he set up the NPG Music Club, as every press release and article on the site never broke usage, even on the legal documents. See also Lucky Charms Title above.

U R now an official member of the New Power Generation. Welcome 2 the dawn.


Video Example(s):


Charlie Murphy vs Prince

"It ain't I'm that great, he's just so bad!"

-- His Royal Badness

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / UnderestimatingBadassery

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