Perhaps fortuitous, perhaps coincidental, perhaps in the spirit of the Prince/ division, this website has a bit of something old and a bit of something new. For one, notice the "Part I" in the title, there is no "Part II," but this text focuses on the past--particularly Prince in the early '90s, the Black Album/Lovesexy shift, and the birth of . A Part II would be necessary to examine 's newer projects an public appearances. No such project is currently in the works.
This project itself grows out of my own intense interest in the Prince mythos which includes a host of characters from Jamie Starr, to Camille, to Spooky Electric, and on and on: All identities of Prince. However, those identities are distinct, theoretically, from --a real and identifiable individual. The previous identities were characters that came and went; they were never really embodied; they never claimed distinct existence. As , the artist formerly known as Prince claims to be a unique and new individual--one born of a spiritual revelation.
At first militant about the separation of Prince and himself, denied the possibility ever playing Prince's music again; he refused to make new music which would fulfill a contract signed by Prince; and he began a quest for finding his own voice. The crux of my look at this early/mid nineties time considers what statements was making about his authorship and that of Prince. Previous to his new identity, Prince had claimed to have had a revelation which caused him to stopp the distribution of the Black Album, an album known to be very hard-edged, parodic of rap, and highly sexually explicit. In its place, Lovesexy was released with its message of "positivity." When Prince's retired and announed himself, the Black Album was released as part of the fulfillment of Prince's contract with Warner Brothers.
The release of this album marks a clear separation and distancing between Prince and . In fact, I argue that it is evidence of 's pushing the boundaries of what Michel Foucault identifies as the "author-function." The release of material which he did not want to associate with himself marks a clear separation between the classificatory structures of texts by Prince and texts by . This webtext analyzes the separation in a traditional essay format while offering some contextualiaing nodes focused on examples of Prince and 's misdirecting of critics, interviewers, and audiences via a range of media.
In no way is this text assumed to be a "native hypertext," nor is it assumed to be a complete account of interviews, comments, songs, and websites generated by Prince and by . The traditional essay is as much an exploration of Foucault as it is of The Artist. You can begin anywhere you would like, but I recommend reading the sections of Prince, which considers difficulty early on in Prince's identity; critics, which addresses interviews as a manipulated form of mediation for Prince and ; Artist, which looks briefly at 's moves since his arrival; and Foucault, which highlights some Prince/ quotes that sound a bit Foucauldian in nature. The lyrics node cites identity claims made in songs--again, certainly not comprehensive--for the purpose of tracing his self-referencing and, at times, self parodying nature. Each of these nodes are intended to help contextualize the traditional essay in the So What? node. And each is intended to underscore the larger point that with this artist--and potentially with any media savvy artists--the "author-function" becomes a more manipulable device. Prince/ makes that point extremely clear.