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Thread started 08/24/18 3:19am

robertgeorge

Prince and his iconic brand identity (aesthetic, and musical signatures)

One of the things I loved about Prince the way that he created his own Prince world, and had so many features that identified his music and aesthetic

Examples

Purple (as a color which he incorporated into his clothes, and song titles and lyrics eg Purple Rain, Purple trench, Purple Yoda, Purple music etc)
Mary France clothes with the oversize buttons
High waisted pants
Purple Rain ruffled shirts
Paisley Park (as a concept, a song, a motif on his records)

His use of pseudonyms (Jamie Starr, Joey Coco, Christopher Tracey) that often played off his Gemini duality
The Prince symbol (name, guitar, album)
The minneapolis sound (keyboards as horn lines)
The proteges - Sheila E and her bands songs and visual appearance during the Purple Rain era
His scream owhaaa (surprised he didn't try and trademark that in his litigious phase)
His heels and use of monochrome outfits
The 1990's suits (thinking diamonds and Pearls era)
Prince ebonics (Take me with U, I wanna melt with u etc)
New album (new look, new sound, new band for a lot of his career) the torchbearer of Bowie's chameleon like reinvention
The Purple Rain motorbike
His guitars, the tele, the cloud, the symbol guitar.
The gun mike
The cop hat with the chains
The light bondage s and m references
His style of accepting an award
His take on sexual lyrics, and his take on the spiritual (not him exclusively but he put his stamp on it)
His spoken song rap
The type of woman he romanced and used in his music videos
The sophisticated and chastened suits of the rainbow children
His style of layering vocals, and having back up vocals sometimes proceed lead vocals
The guitar rig he had and the use of the boss peadals, harmonizer in D and P, and his zoom pedals.

Minneapolis as his Superman Fortress of Solitude. (Rock and Roll is alive and it lives in Minneapolis, "We don't play that we from Minneapolis, Purple and Gold (his fight song)
Pancakes
His love of basketball (not unique, but certainly Charlie Murphy helped imprint it on the popular imagination - game blouses anyone and as a basketball fan I still only saw him "play" in the Daisy Chain video, shoot a free throw in the Love Sexy concert at Dortmund, and bounce a ball in the UTCM movie.
The pencil moustache (with the mascara)
Androgyny
Uptown as the predecessor to Paisley Park and the concept of freaks being free from societies rules.
Killer B sides
Aftershows
The splits (I know these had been done MANY times before but I associate this with him)
The leg kick over the mic and catching the mic before it hits the ground
Rocking the hairy chest ("King Kong" Apollonia Purple Rain)
The mother fucking VAULT (The myth the legend, the slow release date)
The nick names - His royal badness, his purple majesty,
The bootlegs (up there with very few in terms of this impressive body of leaked work)
Working with mix bands (gender and ethnicity, general vibe)
Changing the names of those people he works with Carmen Electra, Brown Mark, Tommy Barbarella.

Even the things that didn't work (and I would argue some of these did)
The typhoon hairdo
The use of the NPG as his bands name
The purple axe (the keytar he patented)
The monochrome full body suits in rave (I call them licorice or roll up suits)
SLAVE scrawled on his face (He was laughed at by dumb non-fans but talked about)



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Reply #1 posted 08/24/18 3:32am

robertgeorge

Brevity is not one of my gifts when it comes to posting about my main man Prince (as Spike Lee would say) but I wanted to suggest how iconic and distinctive Prince is. Any of the above automatically would associate me with Prince, and his motifs and hallmarks of his aesthetic and music created a Prince universe which as a fan I loved to explore.

I think no musician had so many things that made them recognizable to us. I personally loved it, (Can't think of to many, the Beatles had elements of this hair cuts, clothes, multiple singers taking lead vocals, interest in eastern philosophy, suits etc, the Smiths were hugely identifiable with album art and Morrsseys satorial perversity and El Quiff)

Do you agree, did you like that about Prince too?

I was not exhaustive (which is a testimony to him as a creative entity)
What else branded Prince as Prince (not as a commodity, but as a style and creative force)

Before I get hooked off the Apollo,

I could also mention Camille (a female identity, the style of funk, the sped up vocals)
The stripped production ideas (Kiss, the bassless When Doves Cry, Slave the song)
Bob George (ironic I should figure that Mamma jamma - ain't that a bitch)
Spooky Elecrtric (his concept of evil)
The Rainbow Children vader voice, and the vocie in temptation (God's voice?)

Prince is someone most of us could recognize by one note or a sihlouette, or a lyric.

What is your view on how Prince created his unique world, and what did you like the most?

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Reply #2 posted 08/24/18 4:45am

fourletterword
s

This is a really interesting post. I very much agree that Prince, perhaps better than any other popular artist, branded his aesthetic. In these types of discussions an obvious forerunner is Bowie; however, Bowie’s image and sound changed so drastically and quicklly, and without keeping too many underlying themes (other than the recurring Major Tom character and image). Prince would continually modify, refresh, and revise certain root elements of his persona/vision (see the various iterations of the love symbol dating back to Purple Rain that gradually became more prominent in image/work up to the name change, which always suggested to me the name change was far more premeditated and in the works than it seemed at the time). The time period where Prince appeared to me most-off brand, the mid 90s (Emancipation through Rave Un2) era where he heavily resorted to then popular R&B sound, gave MANY interviews to shows and publications, and allowed a lot of his otherworldly mysticism to fall away - seemed to be his lowest ebb of popularity... the general public and many fans seemed most fascinated with Prince at his most otherworldly, and least relatable. Interestingly, in the mid 2000s, again relying on his more storied brand elements (a clearly conscious decision) and also heavily incorporating ‘80s-sounding synths, which had once again become en Vogue, Prince regained a place in the public consciousness, was releasing number 1 albums again and returned to general critical acclaim.
[Edited 8/24/18 4:49am]
[Edited 8/24/18 4:51am]
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Reply #3 posted 08/24/18 2:55pm

robertgeorge

fourletterwords said:

This is a really interesting post. I very much agree that Prince, perhaps better than any other popular artist, branded his aesthetic. In these types of discussions an obvious forerunner is Bowie; however, Bowie’s image and sound changed so drastically and quicklly, and without keeping too many underlying themes (other than the recurring Major Tom character and image). Prince would continually modify, refresh, and revise certain root elements of his persona/vision (see the various iterations of the love symbol dating back to Purple Rain that gradually became more prominent in image/work up to the name change, which always suggested to me the name change was far more premeditated and in the works than it seemed at the time). The time period where Prince appeared to me most-off brand, the mid 90s (Emancipation through Rave Un2) era where he heavily resorted to then popular R&B sound, gave MANY interviews to shows and publications, and allowed a lot of his otherworldly mysticism to fall away - seemed to be his lowest ebb of popularity... the general public and many fans seemed most fascinated with Prince at his most otherworldly, and least relatable. Interestingly, in the mid 2000s, again relying on his more storied brand elements (a clearly conscious decision) and also heavily incorporating ‘80s-sounding synths, which had once again become en Vogue, Prince regained a place in the public consciousness, was releasing number 1 albums again and returned to general critical acclaim. [Edited 8/24/18 4:49am] [Edited 8/24/18 4:51am]


It all falls into that line in undisputed "I don't follow trends, trends follow me like the Israelites and the Red Sea"

When Prince started to follow trends it took away his mystique. That being said if it was a matter of having his music and styles over that period or not having them, I chose the rap, the puffer jackets, the braided hair, the rappers and gameboyz.

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