An intimate interview with an X-rated star

Bob Lucas

Q. Your music has been called a mixture of “contempo rock and R&B”. What’s your description? A. The only thing I can say is it’s real music. Other categories I leave up to the music people (critics). Q. Has your music changed any? I understand you started when you were 12 years old. A. Yes, it changes constantly. It’s hard to say what I’ll do next. It depends on my lifestyle in a way, you know, things I see around me. Q. I gather your lifestyle is rather far out compared to that of an average person. A. Yes, I’ve been told that. Q. Well, is it a fair description? A. Yeah... as far as most people’s standards are concerned. I consider it quite normal. Q. Your last album was called Dirty Mind. How is the airplay on that ? A. I don’t think there is ANY airplay. I think (the tune) Uptown got some, but the rest of the cuts weren’t played too much. Of course, I knew that (would happen) when I made it, so I wasn’t shocked or anything. Q. So obviously, when you do a project, it’s not based on what will sell. A. Well, no, not this one. I had different management when I did my first album and that one was geared a little bit more to the public. This album that’s out now, Dirty Mind, is more me. They (record executives) looked up and it was finished and it was too late for them to say anything. Q. Your lyrics are describe as “X-rated”, sexually explicit. Do you do that to shock people? A. My lyrics are everyday talk that goes on around me all the time. The radio stations that don’t play it are only denying the public of their lives. Anything older than that – the labels they put on it and things like that – it’s pretty useless and unnecessary, I think. Q. What do you think about Millie Jackson’s songs ? A. She’s dealing with life. She’s still telling it basically like it is. She ain’t getting no radio play either, but that doesn’t stop her from reaching people she wants to reach. ‘Cause she’s hitting home. She must be if she’s got any type of following. She’s hitting home with somebody. Q. I understand you play 26 instruments and that you’re self-taught. A. I think all instruments are related in some way or another to the piano. Once I learned that, the rest seemed to come pretty easily. Q. Did your parents influence you? A. My father played piano and had his own jazz band. My mother sang lead for him for a while. Q. What about your education? A. Well, I had a real good teacher, inasmuch, ah he understood what I was about, what I was trying to do, and he never tried to teach me. He used to lock me in the music room and that way no one could come in and bother me. I used to play the piano all day long. That was what my music education consisted of. I was very grateful to him. He’s give me an A as long as I was working on something. Q. What’s your private life like ? A. I live with a lot of different friends. I move around a lot. I have a small place in Minneapolis but I don’t stay there very much. There are a lot of guitars there, but contrary to what most people think I don’t do music a lot. I do it when I have to, when we’re playing or rehearsing. I don’t just do it. Some musicians, that’s all they can do. I like what I do, but it’s more or less a hobby. I like to paint and I like to do other things too. I’m more into people, I guess. Friends... I love friends. Q. You never use your last name... why ? A. I just don’t like it, so I don’t use it. See, it doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to my forefathers, I guess, to whoever gave it to them. It’s a slave name. My father gave me the name Prince and that was his name. It wasn’t his real name, but he maded it up and gave it to himself ‘cause he was playing music. So that’s more important than something just given too him that he had no control over. Q. What did he think of your last album? A. My father hated it. Q. What is your goal in life ? A. The only thing I’d like to see more of in music – and that’s the reason I don’t listen to a lot of it – a lot of musicians, a lot of black musicians, tend to make music to get over. It basically comes from us being oppressed for s long and wanting to see some of the good life. I don’t know... a long time ago it was never like that, so my dad tells me. They played music and they were trying to be better than the other person. They were more or less competing with themselves, as well as with other people. They were always trying to outdo themselves instead of just meeting how much money they could make. What’s nice, I guess, is to check out an artist after he’s been through the tubes and he’s made his money and it doesn’t make a difference to him. But then it always happens, where a guy gets used the Eldorado, the big house and stuff, and he has to keep up the payments. So he has to keep getting those hits. It starts to juristic his music, your feelings, and you start putting in things you wouldn’t ordinarily do because maybe that’s what’s going on at this particular time. When it gets to that it’s like, you know, what do you want to listen to music for ? It’s better to listen to a poor, broke musician on obscure records that never made the radio, never made the charts and they don’t care. They’re making them for their friends and themselves rather than the record company. Q. But then when the popularity comes, recognition starts coming, what does the artist do ? A. I think you stick to your guns and to the people who are really into you, rather than what’s happening. See, I have people who don’t like me now for the changes I’ve made, because it’s so different from my first record, which was really full of love and romance and things like that. That’s the frame of life I was in then. I had a lot of fantasies and dreams that I wanted to relate into music. I didn’t realize, I guess, at that time that music could be an extension of one’s character. And now I do. Q. You’ve had success. What do you do with your money ? A. Well, most of the money I have now goes back into our sets and to people who work for us... just to sustain us. There are six of us including me. Then there’s the management, the crew, the lightning people, sound (technicians). I’m not a real ambitious person. I think I deal mostly day-to-day. I don’t think it’s wrong to set up goals and things like that. I think one has to find out what they want in like and just do it and no think about day-to-day failures. That causes nervous breakdowns to happen. I like what I’m doing and I just do it.

COURTESY OF Black Stars