Portraits of the Prince of Funk | Performing Arts, Oct. 2019

A must for Prince fans and for readers interested in his impact on the music industry, pop culture, and race and gender theory; this book provides insight into the artist’s nonconformity, which many will now see as commonplace.

Cover of On TimeDay, Morris with David Ritz. On Time: A Princely Life in Funk. Da Capo. Oct. 2019. 224p. ISBN 9780306922213. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780306922206. MUSIC
Day (b. 1957), lead singer for the Time, partners with noted rock writer Ritz (Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin; Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye) for an absorbing autobiography and an intimate portrait of longtime associate and funk master Prince (1958–2016). He invents a three-way conversation among himself; his flamboyant, drug-addled stage persona; and his mentor Prince to dispel demons and demystify the subject. Beginning with his childhood friendship with Prince in a fledgling funk band, Day describes his stint as a videographer for the rising star, his first success with the Prince-created band the Time, and his important role in the film Purple Rain. The vocalist describes his own solo career, his break with Prince, and a drug/sex addiction fueled by depression and insecurities. Day concludes by recounting his reunions with Prince and the Time (now called the Original 7ven), his final meeting with his megastar crony, and his recent work with Snoop Dogg. VERDICT Day compellingly recalls his life in and out of the music business and portrays the unpredictable Prince as a reserved, music-obsessed, wildly creative, controlling, and ambitious funk genius. Highly recommended to anyone interested in Prince, funk, or the Time.—David P. Szatmary, formerly with Univ. of Washington, Seattle

cover of Wonder UNama, Adilifu. I Wonder U: How Prince Went Beyond Race and Back. Rutgers Univ. Nov. 2019. 250p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781978805170. $75; pap. ISBN 9781978805163. $24.95. MUSIC
Prince (1958–2016) was known for diversifying his career as a singer, songwriter, producer, actor, and more, all while reinventing himself. Nama (African American studies, Loyola Marymount Univ.; Race on the QT: Blackness and the Films of Quentin Tarantino) focuses on Prince’s reinventions and his influence on popular and American culture. By using examples of the performer’s work and interviews and referring to other research on the musician, Nama places Prince’s bold personality in the context of its effects on black expression, "black music" and "white music," masculinity, gender, and sexuality, all areas that were more rigidly defined in a previous generation and that Prince asks us to reassess. For those born in the 1990s or later, this book explores what were once shocking displays of the human body and sexuality and provides insight into the artist’s nonconformity, which many will now see as commonplace. VERDICT A must for Prince fans and for readers interested in his impact on the music industry, pop culture, and race and gender theory.—Elizabeth Berndt-Morris, Loeb Music Lib., Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA

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