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Thread started 04/08/15 4:19pm

peege43

Reasons for the decline of Prince

I recently read a thread in which almost everyone designated Prince's "classic" period as around 1978-1988 - up through Lovesexy. I must admit, I stopped listening to most of his output regularly after SOTT, and even after revisiting all of his albums in the 90s and 2000s later, I was always drawn back to the 80s Prince.

I know there are those that like each of his albums since Lovesexy, and I recognize that TGE, 3121 and Musicology got somewhat favorable reviews. But the quality of the output clearly went down if you look at sales, chart success and (most) reviews.

What's the reason? Was it the departure of Wendy & Lisa? His series of religious conversions? His squabble with Warner Brothers? All of the above? Or do you have your own theory?

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Reply #1 posted 04/08/15 4:25pm

Angelsoncrack

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I was listening to a podcast about this kind of subject. I can't remember if it was peach and black or if it was the prince podcast (I think it was the prince podcast actually), but basically they were talking about how from about Graffiti Bridge onwards, he let outside music really influence him.

I think it was a combination of that and the feud with WB. I think he just scared a lot of people away with the whole 'slave' thing etc.

✿Prince and lawsuits. Still a better love-story than Twilight. ✿

@Spoookyelectric ← Follow me on Twitter!
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Reply #2 posted 04/08/15 4:29pm

dadeepop

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Rumor is it's because he misplaced his LinnDrum and got all discombobulated.

"The password is what."
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Reply #3 posted 04/08/15 4:30pm

luvsexy4all

[Name calling snip - luv4u]

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Reply #4 posted 04/08/15 4:33pm

klick2me

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I think his output now is greater than it has ever been. Sorry friend, you're missing out!
klick
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Reply #5 posted 04/08/15 4:39pm

funksterr

My opinion:

1. The moral pressure to clean up his music.

2. Drugs.

3. Contract and cashflow issues.

4. Identity issues both spiritual and sexual.

BTW, these things, which became most evident in 1988, remain more or less unresolved, and are STILL the reasons for his decline.

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Reply #6 posted 04/08/15 4:54pm

peege43

Angelsoncrack said:

I was listening to a podcast about this kind of subject. I can't remember if it was peach and black or if it was the prince podcast (I think it was the prince podcast actually), but basically they were talking about how from about Graffiti Bridge onwards, he let outside music really influence him.

I think it was a combination of that and the feud with WB. I think he just scared a lot of people away with the whole 'slave' thing etc.

Good point. I had read where during the 80s he was setting the trends (Purple Rain, ATWIAD), but he got afraid of the rise of rap and felt he was getting left behind; suddenly he became a follower instead of a leader.

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Reply #7 posted 04/08/15 5:46pm

deepabove

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Understand what u mean, but quality of music and sales figures rarely go hand in hand. Look at much of what's been "popular" from the 90s-now.

That being said, yes... love it when P's music surprises in a good way. really loved that back in the day, including all of the periphery artists (The Time, etc.)

open yo mind, the entire universe you'll find
~love
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Reply #8 posted 04/08/15 7:17pm

KingSausage

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Prince realized he could never write a song that mattered like Imagine or What's Going On?, so he decided to turn his focus to inventing hip-hop and bringing it to the mainstream.
"Drop that stereo before I blow your Goddamn nuts off, asshole!"
-Eugene Tackleberry
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Reply #9 posted 04/08/15 8:14pm

V10LETBLUES

Whatever happened it happened at the flick of of a switch. Really strange. To go from do no wrong, to uber cheesy and unoriginal within an album is really confounding. From such originality and charm, to being in a rut regurgitating the same charmless joyless songs over and over.

Something major happened.
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Reply #10 posted 04/08/15 8:31pm

SoulAlive

Every artist experiences a commercial decline after they've been around for awhile,but Prince didn't do himself any favors with some of his antics in the 90s (the name change,the slave years,etc).

Artistically,I think it's hard to always be inspired after you've done so many albums.I noticed that,after TGE,the albums became less interesting.Some good songs here and there,but nothing like the classic albums.

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Reply #11 posted 04/08/15 8:31pm

RJOrion

any of the above reasons for the so called "decline" may or may not be factors...but if there has been a "decline", why cant it be that the man has aged like the rest of us, and with that, everything in his industry has changed...under those inevitable and unavoidable circumstances, i think he's doing as well as can be expected...rock & roll must be a cold world for 56 year olds...besides, he has the overwhelming respect of his peers, who are among his greatest fans...thats priceless
[Edited 4/8/15 20:34pm]
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Reply #12 posted 04/08/15 10:28pm

trax

klick2me said:

I think his output now is greater than it has ever been. Sorry friend, you're missing out!

I agree!! I just wish Prince had confidence in his new music nowadays to play it live. I think thats the only reason people are down on the new stuff is that they don't hear it live which usually brings out new life in his songs.

Rainbow Children, Musicology, 3121, AOA and Lotusflower are just GREAT!! I like half of Planet Earth and the half I like I LOVE!! 2010 and Plectrum Electrum......ehhh its got a couple so I will give you that one but the others are great!!

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Reply #13 posted 04/08/15 10:41pm

thedance

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Old Prince 1978 - 1988 including Lovesexy is complete superior to the new Prince.

Nothing compares to the classic era - the 70s & 80s. IMHO. worship



His albums (I'm not speaking about his live performances).... Prince used to be so "brilliant and fantastic" now he is "just good".... wink

[Edited 4/8/15 22:41pm]

Prince 4Ever. heart
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Reply #14 posted 04/09/15 12:28am

jaypotton

Lots of contributing factors but the single biggest factor is...he got old!

Been said (by me) a million times on the org...all major artists hit a peak period. Sometimes their sales/commercial peak coincides with their artistic peak. Often it also coincides with an alignment with or influence on the zeitgeist of the times.

Prince did that. He IS the 80s in so many ways. His influence is writ large on music today.

But he ain't ever gonna sell like he did back then (who does)!

Most artists also happen to have their artistic high point around their late 20s (sure there are exceptions). At that point they are still learning and growing. However, at some point they stop growing as an artist (unless you want Prince to go and hang out with a Lost Bolivian tribe for a year and take their influences into his music).

By way of example, look at say The Beatles. They were all in their 20s during the 1960s. Their musical growth is indisputable. Then look at their solo stuff. Look at McCartney's stuff since turning 50. Some good solid songs and fair albums. But groundbreaking? Nah! What about Stevie Wonder? There are loads of examples!

Prince IMHO continues to produce good solid albums with good songs. Are they amazing and groundbreaking...NO. Do they entertain me...YES. I simply do not expect to be wowed anymore.

There is another factor. WE all got older too!

I was a teenager in the 80s. I literally grew up with Prince. He was a major influence on my life during my formative years. Everything EVERYTHING is more exciting and new when you are a teenager!

One personal disappointment for me was Prince becoming a JW. Not that I have anything against any religion BUT one of the things that influenced me and set Prince apart was his spirituality without subscription to any particular set of beliefs or organised religion. He seemed so much more accepting of all in society, gay, straight, black, white etc since becoming a JW his dogma has become exclusive rather than inclusive...which I think is a disappointment.
'I loved him then, I love him now and will love him eternally. He's with our son now.' Mayte 21st April 2016 = the saddest quote I have ever read! RIP Prince and thanks for everything.
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Reply #15 posted 04/09/15 12:45am

jaawwnn

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It pretty much coincides with him locking himself away in Paisley Park and firing anyone who knew him before he was massively famous doesn't it?

But yeah, he can still bring it when he's in the mood.





[Edited 4/9/15 1:38am]

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Reply #16 posted 04/09/15 1:34am

paulludvig

funksterr said:

My opinion:

1. The moral pressure to clean up his music.

2. Drugs.

3. Contract and cashflow issues.

4. Identity issues both spiritual and sexual.

BTW, these things, which became most evident in 1988, remain more or less unresolved, and are STILL the reasons for his decline.

2. Really?

I agree with 1, 3 and 4, though. In the 90's he had to start to make money again, but the music that was popular at the time was not the music he really wanted to make. The result is a number of pretty phoney records with Prince following trends and trying to be what he's not.

I think this is linked to identity issues as well. His macho posturing and attemps to de 'gangsta' did not sit well with his rather feminine persona. Also I think his newfound religion did not allow for sexual ambiguity.

The wooh is on the one!
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Reply #17 posted 04/09/15 2:09am

7roses

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Let's not forget that Prince is desperately trying to reach a new, especially younger, audience for quite a while which isn't working out very well for him. Not only does he want to work with young people, they are also his target audience. Sadly younger generations than the fans who supported him through his ups and downs couldn't care less about a Prince & 3rdeyegirl album/concert (of course with a few exceptions). Prince & 3rdeyegirl who?! rolleyes
.

I also think Prince is more interested in being a mentor to 3rdeyegirl, especially the untalented Hannah Welton who still tries a singing career, than that he's focusing on his own career/output. Now that there's Judith Hill he's heavily into launching her career...not so much striving for his own chart success at all anymore imho. neutral

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Reply #18 posted 04/09/15 2:10am

NorthC

jaawwnn said:

It pretty much coincides with him locking himself away in Paisley Park and firing anyone who knew him before he was massively famous doesn't it?

But yeah, he can still bring it when he's in the mood.






[Edited 4/9/15 1:38am]


Yep. That's the way I see it. It's interesting to note that he made all his great music before he built his own studio. Having his own studio meant he could withdraw into his own world. And that doesn't inspire any good (song)writing. Have y'all noticed how many songs he write about himself nowadays?
[Edited 4/9/15 2:19am]
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Reply #19 posted 04/09/15 3:07am

mattosgood

this is probably the best answer on this thread (the one stating Drugs as an issue is laughable) but what I would also add is that each generation want thier own artists, bands etc and if you are a teenager / twentysomething you look up to/fancy people your own age/slightly older not fortysomethings or fiftysomethings (this goes for fans as well as music journalists)

jaypotton said:

Lots of contributing factors but the single biggest factor is...he got old! Been said (by me) a million times on the org...all major artists hit a peak period. Sometimes their sales/commercial peak coincides with their artistic peak. Often it also coincides with an alignment with or influence on the zeitgeist of the times. Prince did that. He IS the 80s in so many ways. His influence is writ large on music today. But he ain't ever gonna sell like he did back then (who does)! Most artists also happen to have their artistic high point around their late 20s (sure there are exceptions). At that point they are still learning and growing. However, at some point they stop growing as an artist (unless you want Prince to go and hang out with a Lost Bolivian tribe for a year and take their influences into his music). By way of example, look at say The Beatles. They were all in their 20s during the 1960s. Their musical growth is indisputable. Then look at their solo stuff. Look at McCartney's stuff since turning 50. Some good solid songs and fair albums. But groundbreaking? Nah! What about Stevie Wonder? There are loads of examples! Prince IMHO continues to produce good solid albums with good songs. Are they amazing and groundbreaking...NO. Do they entertain me...YES. I simply do not expect to be wowed anymore. There is another factor. WE all got older too! I was a teenager in the 80s. I literally grew up with Prince. He was a major influence on my life during my formative years. Everything EVERYTHING is more exciting and new when you are a teenager! One personal disappointment for me was Prince becoming a JW. Not that I have anything against any religion BUT one of the things that influenced me and set Prince apart was his spirituality without subscription to any particular set of beliefs or organised religion. He seemed so much more accepting of all in society, gay, straight, black, white etc since becoming a JW his dogma has become exclusive rather than inclusive...which I think is a disappointment.

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Reply #20 posted 04/09/15 3:10am

FunkiestOne

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You might as well make a thread about reasons for the decline of Michael Jordon (why can't he dunk like he used to?) or Wayne Gretzkey...or Albert Einstein (who came up with the Theory of Relativity in his mid 20s)


Yes it is old age...you lose brain cells and you lose your strength and skills and talent..just the way it is...for EVERYBODY.

Of course there are other factors, but the main one is that old age took the genius out of Prince.

[Edited 4/9/15 3:11am]

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Reply #21 posted 04/09/15 3:35am

Aerogram

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So Prince's career isn't one long crescendo, each album reaching reaching new heights, expanding artistically and commercially forever and a day.

There are many reasons why that's not what happened, not only in his case but in all cases.

One reason has to do with how albums become classics. Recording stars usually rise when they are young, and they attract a young audience. As both the artist and his public age,something happens : the initial fan base buys fewer records, but cherish those earlier records, the soundtrack of their youth. They go on to call those records classics, newer and younger fans see them call them classics, and the legend is born, chronicled by the once incredible artistic and commercial feats everyone agrees on.

In other words, conventions set in, everyone ages, few buy as many records and history is written... for now. Looking back at you other artists in different mediums, later works are often rehabilitated. They did not benefit from the same perfect dynamics as the now classic period, but remove all that and you still have great artistry. A good example of that is Aretha's 70s stuff, many songs consider d not as great as earlier material received a new appreciation when they came out wi the box sets.
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Reply #22 posted 04/09/15 3:47am

KingSausage

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I blame Geneva's cookies. Who knows what was in them.
"Drop that stereo before I blow your Goddamn nuts off, asshole!"
-Eugene Tackleberry
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Reply #23 posted 04/09/15 4:38am

jaawwnn

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Aerogram said:

So Prince's career isn't one long crescendo, each album reaching reaching new heights, expanding artistically and commercially forever and a day. There are many reasons why that's not what happened, not only in his case but in all cases. One reason has to do with how albums become classics. Recording stars usually rise when they are young, and they attract a young audience. As both the artist and his public age,something happens : the initial fan base buys fewer records, but cherish those earlier records, the soundtrack of their youth. They go on to call those records classics, newer and younger fans see them call them classics, and the legend is born, chronicled by the once incredible artistic and commercial feats everyone agrees on. In other words, conventions set in, everyone ages, few buy as many records and history is written... for now. Looking back at you other artists in different mediums, later works are often rehabilitated. They did not benefit from the same perfect dynamics as the now classic period, but remove all that and you still have great artistry. A good example of that is Aretha's 70s stuff, many songs consider d not as great as earlier material received a new appreciation when they came out wi the box sets.

Yeah, i don't buy prince's age as an excuse at all. Plenty of older artists release brilliant work as they get older, as long as they stay inspired and interact with the world. I'm not sure I see prince doing that though.

Bigger question though, will we ever be allowed rediscover Prince's life-long catalogue? Will there ever be a box set with F.U.N.K. on it for example? Prince'll probably just burn it all on his deathbed.

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Reply #24 posted 04/09/15 4:50am

Rebeljuice

I reckon Prince thinks that any song leaked from the vault is a dead song, never to be finished or released officially. It is well known that Prince often mines the vault for songs to put on a new album. But he rarely ever mines a song that has been previously leaked. Occasionally he does such as the title track to Rave and some of the GB songs. But most of the time we probably dont know if a song is old or when it was actually written.

No artist can maintain their peak for 30 years. They have a golden period which will last for a period of time and they will eventually cool off. But the amount of music Prince made in his peak period far outweighs what he actually released. If what I have said above is true, then all these leaks we have, especially of the 80s stuff, has actually been detrimental to Prince's output over the years. If none of it had leaked, we could still be getting great songs on great albums today, mined from when he was at his peak. So instead of albums with half great songs and half average-to-bad songs, he could have replaced the average-to-bad songs with gems from his peak period, updated of course, along side the great new songs he put on the albums anyway.

Imagine all those 80s leaks showing up on albums over the years but being none the wiser about whether they were new or old. Prince could have still appeared to be at his peak to this day if only no one knew any of those songs existed.

Of course I could be talking utter bollocks. But one thing is for sure, Prince was at his peak in the 80s and will never produce anything as consistently good again. But if im not talking bollocks, then it would explain Prince's views on bootlegs and lack of desire to release any kind of outtakes project. The leaks, essentially, were stolen songs that he could have used for the rest of his career but now cant.

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Reply #25 posted 04/09/15 4:54am

emesem

Age does not account for a decline beginning in 1988. He was not even 30 then! Yes it explains why Bruno Mars can out Prince Prince in 2015 but does not explain what happened in 1989 and onwards


Here is my list:

1) switch to digital synths and recording. This created a cheesier sound but worse it allowed him to layer track upon track upon track.

2) Prince's racial identity crisis. Too much of the 90s was spent on trying too hard.

3) Truth be told, Prince has terrible taste in contemporary music. He looked to the worst for musical inspiration. Don't even get me started on his fashion sense.

4) lacking a formal education and perhaps intellectually uninterested in the world during his 20s Prince was susceptible to conspiracy theories and pseudoreligious quackery. This filtered in to his music in unfortunate ways climaxing in the awfulness that was the worst parts of The Rainbow Children

5) really bad business, legal and marketing decisions

6) death of the baby and the end of his marriage with Mayte
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Reply #26 posted 04/09/15 4:58am

RJOrion

instead of 3rdEyeGirl and joshua welton, i wish Prince would invest all his leadership and mentoring to the kid from Australia, Dennis Hart(s)...Prince has even said he reminds him of himself at the same age...Harts plays his own instruments and his stuff even sounds like Moonsound Studios and For You era, Prince...check out his album "Daydreaming", for proof...
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Reply #27 posted 04/09/15 4:58am

funkaholic1972

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* Paisley Park studios: after getting rid of The Revolution Prince locked himself up in PP with all his new toys, but without outside influences it was harder to get new inspiration to make new interesting music, like NorthC has already mentioned.

* His flamboyant style of clothes and hair became outdated in the nineties, which made him look out of time to the general public who were embracing grunge (workmen's clothes) and hiphop (urban street style look).

* His feud with WB and the 'Slave' thing put a lot of people off: a rich megastar complaining about a 100 million dollar deal.

* Following musical trends in the nineties (hiphop) and not pulling it off believably.

* Emancipation, the "album he was born to make", his first big independent release flopping bigtime, both sales wise as artistically.

* The loss of his child and his wife (who apparently cheated on him?) most likely led him into the arms of Larry Graham who converted him to be a JW. This led to Prince becoming a religious conservative who had to clean up his act to be acceptable in the JW scene. His lyrics have suffered ever since.

* His music started to suffer more and more from lack of new original ideas and good comtemporary (or even retro) production. Lots of songs seem to be retreads of songs he has done before but then better.

* He started to believe more and more in the 'genius' label that the media had given him in the eighties and thought (thinks) that he can do it all by himself. Where other big artists hire the best possible staff for things like engineering, management, style/image advice, he often does it all himself or hires subpar staff. Maybe he feels like he has to live up to his Unique Selling Point "the one man band genius" and feels that he HAS to do it all alone, otherwise it turns out that he is just a 'normal' artist/human who needs competent staff to produce a good/successful product. Or he might hold on to his DIY method so he can take all the credits when he hits it 'bigtime' again?

* He is now officially 'old' and doesn't appeal to young people anymore as a popstar.

* He is notoriously difficult ot work with, his albums havent sold well for more than 20 years now and he has little possibilities left to work with the major labels anymore. True, he made a deal with WB last year but so far no remasters of his classic albums, just two new Prince albums that weren't promoted/marketed much and didn't do well at all.

The way I see it Prince would be best of just making music true to his roots with a quality band and do stuff like TRC and the ONA tour minus the JW lyrics. And if he really wants a 'hit' album then he'd be best of hiring competent staff (the best in the field) who can help him streamline his songs and image for these modern times.

RIP Prince: thank U 4 a funky Time!
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Reply #28 posted 04/09/15 5:09am

vinaysfunk

"decline"? Really? I just don't see it that way. And no I am not an ever loving Prince fan that can't or won't criticize him. Yes his musical journey was awesome from 79-88. I was along for that ride and went to his concerts and was blown away.

But he accomplished what he set out to do and his musical career just took a different path. We all know he took on the recording industry at the expense of his own career. And then his music was very hard to get and come by. But whatever music I got my hands on still resonated with me no matter how up and down his ride was.

I loved the symbol era, the TGE, Emancipation, NPS, Rave, TRC, One Night Alone, Musicology, 3121, planet earth, lotus flower, 2010 all the way up to the new stuff. Yes each album may not have been as consistent as his past work as in the 80's but he was pushing in very different directions. Some were hits and some were misses. But I always admired his spirit in going into places that most wouldn't.

Did he ever follow trends? Yeah sure but not for long. Prince dabbled in hip hop and rap for a bit. So what? He went on to blaze directions for the distribution of his music from the internet and went on to champion for artists rights. For a long time he was out there on his own.

His concert performances were perfected in my eyes. No one holds a crowd like the way Prince does. All this talk about this sucks or that sucks is just stupid in my opinion. If Prince is in town you will find a way to see the show. Or you ain't that funky.

In the end I don't see it as a decline at all. He pushed himself, he challeged the industry and he challenged us as fans. Those that stuck around like me are all the better for it. No decline in Prince. If you see it that way in my eyes you just don't get him and his music.

[Edited 4/9/15 8:28am]

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Reply #29 posted 04/09/15 5:39am

OldFriends4Sal
e

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moderator

RJOrion said:

any of the above reasons for the so called "decline" may or may not be factors...but if there has been a "decline", why cant it be that the man has aged like the rest of us, and with that, everything in his industry has changed...under those inevitable and unavoidable circumstances, i think he's doing as well as can be expected...rock & roll must be a cold world for 56 year olds...besides, he has the overwhelming respect of his peers, who are among his greatest fans...thats priceless [Edited 4/8/15 20:34pm]

I like VioletBLues reply

It did seem to happen almost overnight, it was really apparent. So I don't think age has anything to do with it.

Maybe 1 other reason is he put too many albums out back to back (along with his WB battles)

I think the good we got from him in the 90s was some carryover

But overnight he seemed to have gone from original fresh underground cultured even, to mainstream almost predictable

#IDEFINEME #ALBUMSSTILLMATTER

A Liar Shall Not Tarry In My Presence

What's the matter with your life
Is poverty bringing U down?
Is the mailman jerking U 'round?
Did he put your million dollar check
In someone else's box?
Tell me, what's the m
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