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PRINCE by Ronin Ro

PRINCE

Inside the Music and the Masks

By Ronin Ro

Pub Date: Nov. 11th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-38300-8
Publisher: St. Martin's

Did 10 years of researching the enigmatic Prince pay off? You bet.

For much of the 1980s, Prince was arguably the most important pop musician on the planet. He wasn't an originator, however, but a sponge who could take bits and pieces from different genres and manage to create something uniquely his own. The fact that he could sing well, play expertly on several instruments and wear the hell out of skin-tight leotards didn't hurt either. Considering his sales figures, influence and huge, albeit admittedly inconsistent discography, it's surprising that nobody has delivered a noteworthy Prince bio...until now. Veteran journalist Ro (Dr. Dre: The Biography, 2007, etc.) spent a decade researching this book—which shouldn't surprise Prince's fans, as the man is notoriously private—and it was worth it, as he was able to get vital information, opinions and anecdotes from Prince's close and not-so-close associates, everybody from sidemen to record-label execs. (Unsurprisingly, the man himself did not grant Ro access.) By utilizing verbatim dialogue, the book often reads like a novel; granted, some readers may doubt the veracity of every piece of dialogue, but it's enjoyable nonetheless. The author has an obvious affection for Prince's work, but he maintains enough objectivity to be credible.

An energetic, detailed balance of reportage and criticism about an icon of his era.