10: The Beautiful Ones / by LaQuann Dawson

Apparently we "lost" Prince today. I'm having a Long Island on my lunch break with my coworkers when I get a text from my dad saying "Wow Prince is dead." The restaurant got a little cold at that point and I scrolled through instagram to see if this was for real (because that's where we get this kinda news quickly these days).

I wasn't yet born when he was at his prime, but I grew up with his music and stories of this legend nonetheless. I've been affected by his influence. My dad would tell me stories about his childhood and how he was influenced by Prince and how he looked up to him. He'd tell me how he'd do his hair like him and wear these leather boots to school. I used to watch my dad watching The Purple Rain with a smile on his face like he'd never seen it before, waiting to go out until it was over.

Everybody’s got a bomb, we could all die any day...But before I let that happen, I’ll dance my life away
— - Prince (1999)

Freshman year of college I even got into a fight about the guy. I put together the best Prince ensemble I could (at the time) for Halloween and towards the end of the night some kid started insulting Prince as a person. As if he weren't incomparable. As if he couldn't get your mother to leave the family with two words and a wink. You know?

He may have been a little before my time (birth date) but his legend has followed me and if you cannot already tell, his effortless nonconforming attitude has followed and stuck with me as I grew up. The way he dresses, undeniable talent, androgyny, amazing hair and inspiring demeanor will forever inspire people like me to follow their dreams and be themselves. It is still rare, I think, for anyone to be their absolute selves and to be comfortable and confident in their own skin. Prince showed us what it looked like to be self-liberating. He was absolutely his own person and he was free. A soul who paved the way, years and years ago, for people like me, and people like Jaden Smith and and black boys around the world to not give a fuck. He was creative, private, shy and all at the same time dramatic and bold as hell.

Like books and black lives...albums still matter.
— Prince at the 2015 Grammy's

Thank you Prince for your music. Thank you for helping me feel like people who look like me can be successful. Thank you for wearing crop tops, pink fur, heavy eyeliner and sequins and still pulling all the honeys. Thank you for performing with Beyoncé at the 2004 Grammys. Thank you for making my dad happy in his youth. Thank you for reminding the people that black lives still (and always will) matter. Thank you for your 2007 Super Bowl Performance in the pouring rain.

Again, may the fashion icon, risk taker and incredible performer rest forever in peace and show them a good ass time in the afterlife.

 

Photo: Michael Ochs

Stay lit,

- Lackwhen.