Interpretive exegesis of the songs and style of the artist formerly and currently known as Prince.
Touré (Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?: What It Means to Be Black Now, 2011, etc.) argues that though Prince was chronologically a late boomer, he became an icon for Generation X, people born between 1965 and 1982, a time of lower birthrates and social anomie. Prince’s own difficult, lonely childhood gave him the ambition and remove to forge a rock-funk hybrid that was both spiritual and highly sexual, and this gave him an iconic appeal to the disillusioned demographic that came of age in the 1980s, during Prince’s run of hit albums beginning with "1999." In support of this, Touré discusses the content of many of Prince’s songs, focusing more on the responses to Prince’s work than on what Prince actually did to create it. Touré also discusses Prince’s relationship with his backing musicians, significant to his thesis since Prince was one of the first rock stars to recruit a fully diverse band. Although the author talked to other scholars, Prince’s collaborators and former lovers, he’s not pursuing a concrete look at the nitty-gritty of Prince’s innovations in the studio or a narrative of his career arc’s sharp rise (and moderate decline). Instead, he offers a broad overview of Prince’s life and career, tied to his own ideas about demography and race. Touré spends lots of pages of this slim volume returning to his meditations on the qualities of Generation X relative to Prince—e.g., “It’s appropriate to critique the media vision of gen X as unfairly whitewashed, but to say that Blacks are not part of gen X is short-sighted”—and this aspect of his approach comes to seem repetitive and dated.
Mostly engaging and will hold greatest appeal to readers who are already fans of Touré, Prince or both.