I ask him what he will be doing in 10 years. "Sinatra's a good model. I'd like to believe that I'm part of the cultural fibre now.

Prince is a part of the cultural fibre. And his name change has become the humorous aside to a common refrain, "yea, I liked his old stuff, but has he done anything since he became 'symbol man'?" The fact is that he has released The Gold Experience, Emancipation, and New Power Soul since his name change; and curiously, despite his once clear statement that would not perform any Prince songs and despite his clear separation of the two individuals, he released The Crystal Ball. This 3 cd set consists of past bootlegged Prince material. In fact, this release pushes in the opposite direction of the Black Album release, which seemed to solidify the division of the two identities. By releasing Crystal Ball as an album from , symbolically unites the two author-functions. Also, as the name change seemed to make some individuals certain that Prince had lost his mind, it has since forced The Artist to actually act more "normal," according to one journalist. In fact, his break from Warner Brothers changed him into more of a business person at times--forcing him to invite a flurry of interviews as he promoted his first fully solo effort, Emancipation:

  • When I suggest to that he's only decided to talk to the press because he has a vested interest in doing so, he snaps, 'Well, Prince never used to do interviews. You'd have to ask Prince why he never used to do interviews, but you're not talking to Prince now. You're talking to me.'

  • The Artist Formerly Known as Barking Mad has stunned the showbiz world - by being normal! AFKAP was expected to behave in his usual weird and wacky way at a Press conference held at his Paisley Park home in Minneapolis. Instead he arrived on time, politely answered reporters' questions and - for the first time ever - talked some sense. He also appears to have developed a sense of humour. Asked what was behind his new- found openness, AFKAP replied: "Because I've got a record to sell, of course."

And with the new found public voice came more scrutiny that led to reflection on his relationship with Warner Brothers and on his relationship with Prince.

  • Does the public want him to break his legendary silence? To talk about his music, dispel the myths and explain why he killed the artist known as Prince?

  • In 1993, when you announced the suicide of your former self to the media, you talked about never recording again and only work on movies and ballet soundtracks... : I was disgusted by the music business, I wanted a different life. I said a lot of things at that time. Now I am glad that I can freely talk about my projects without feeling like I owe something to a company.

  • "I don't own Prince's music. I don't own [the copyright of] 'Purple Rain.' I know how to play it" - as he had done just a few minutes before.

  • By 1995, things had gotten so ugly that The Artist (as he now prefers to be called) began to appear in public with the word "slave" spelled out on his cheek. He finally parted company with Warner Bros. last year. Asked if the situation with Warner would have been better had the label been less interested in megahits, The Artist demurs. "These are the dramas of the unenlightened," he says. "My job was to create the music -- not to sell it."

  • None of the seven albums with which he has flooded the market since 1984 has come close to equalling that year's 15m seller, Purple Rain.

  • The subject of his recording contract with Warner Brothers comes up, as does the topic of Prince's work - he speaks about Prince in the third person. Whether or not Prince the recording artist is finished, consigned to the bunker of history, is unclear. He says several times that the body of work is complete but later admits that he hasn't ruled out the possibility of adding to it, under the name Prince or otherwise, in the future.

Another feature of 's career is his involvement with and attention to the Internet. As shown below, he sees it as a viable marketting media; however, recently, too, he has exposed some of its darkside . . . or his. Despite much talk about how free music should be and how the industry should not control it as a commodity, 's lawyers have begun an assault on websites which provide bootleg versions of Prince and music. Because of the tight reign and watch he keeps over the use of his image and his sound, I decided not to use any images in this text. Such is the control he is able to maintain over his presentation as part of the "cultural fiber."
  • Since releasing his 3-CD set, "Emancipation" through EMI, The Artist was selling his latest work, an acoustic album "The Truth," on his Web site ( Also coming is a 4-CD set, "Crystal Ball," containing bootlegs and legendary outtakes. The Reporter asked what fascinated The Artist about computers and the Internet. "The Internet is fascinating for a number of reasons ... the anonymity afforded the user allows communication 2 be a bit more open and non-judgmental," The Artist faxed. "Also, the quick, direct access between consumer and supplier is how music was meant 2 come across we believe. Thus, a purer exchange of energy."

  • "Once the Internet is a reality the music business is finished. There won't be any need for record companies. Everyone I speak to - Michael Hutchence, Johnny Gill, Lenny Kravitz - they all agree with me.

  • In addition to using the Web to get the word out about his music, The Artist is hoping to create a virtual community of computer-savvy fans. One of the features of his Web site is the New Power Generation's "Xperiment in Truth," a fan database The Artist is building in order to develop "a direct line" to his fans.

  • For him, the lack of media filters and presence of so many like-minded individuals is an irresistible combination. "There is a saying that goes 'Where there is more than one there is aberration,' " he says. "Theconnection between my 'friends' and I, online, is unbroken by aberration."