“Is He A Brotha?” - Continuing Prince’s Legacy of Inclusion - PHASE TWO



PRN Alumni Foundation Engineers Panel, Capri Theater (September 2017) Photo By: Violet Brown

Though I am in fact an attorney, I do not enjoy talking just to hear the sound of my own voice. I follow the Spirit and speak/write as inspired, and/or PRINCEspired as it were. Michael Dean’s Podcast on Prince [1] is always entertaining and real (maybe sometimes a lil’ too real? Just kidding). The 4/13/2020 show features Audio Engineer, Dave Hampton and Sound Engineer, Scottie Baldwin. Just that info there should do it for you, if you haven’t already listened. Absolutely worth the subscription.

This show was Fantastic, and for me inspirational. Love listening to these two scholars break it down. They always speak with intellect and integrity; respect and realness. So many things come from the discussion, my main focus today is, per the title of this article, Continuing Prince’s Legacy of Inclusion. In connection to that topic, I continue to muse about Prince’s legacy of bringing in the best to do the best, and the questionable behavior of some Purple Protectors.

DEAR MR. MAN:


I’ve asked before and now ask again, “Where are the folks in leadership (in power) standing up to continue his legacy of inclusion?”

In discussing Mr. Hampton’s entry into The Life, Scottie Baldwin stated that when he was telling Prince about a potential new engineer, Prince asked, “Is he a brotha?” to which, Mr. Baldwin replied, “I didn’t know that mattered, but yes.” He continued, saying Prince responded, “I’m just trying to help out.” I love that all the gentlemen on the Podcast took the time to clarify, because we know PurpleFolk love to wax philosophical about what Prince meant by any and everything he did and/or said. Prince meant, WAS HE BLACK? Period.

Two things, the first obviously being that Prince was trying to help create opportunity for people of color, which he did regularly. For some reason, folks try to downplay this part of the legacy. The second thing is, Mr. Baldwin stating he didn’t know it mattered at the time. IMO, this is an example of the disconnect in the current administration’s presentation of info to the public. Some folks learn and understand quickly and take steps toward positive change. Still, some folks don’t think about inclusion. Some folks won’t, ever.

As the aforementioned conversation continued, it was clear that Mr. Baldwin at a certain point understood what Prince was trying to do, however, the truth is, there are people who would know without a single additional word. It is what it is, no disrespect, no negativity, just part of being who we are. Humans experience and share life from different perspectives. Why are only certain perspectives deemed important enough for inclusion?

Love that Prince was keenly aware of the special skills a woman can bring to a project, and brought us in. How many other major recording artists can boast a list of female recording engineers included in their projects as far back as P? He really did actively try to help where he could. Another example I always love to point to is that of Erica Kennedy (RIP) and InStyle Magazine.[2] Ms. Kennedy put forth that at the time (early 2000s) black female writers were not at the forefront of the mainstream and Prince wanted to help change that, and in the process, he changed her life.

CAN’T NOBODY DO IT LIKE…

I am just straight out mind-blown that Dave Hampton, studio designer, and curator of Miles Davis’s musical estate, among other things, is not in charge of that process for Prince’s estate currently. To be clear, I am not advocating that anyone be hired on the sole basis that they are of a certain race or gender. I am saying that where super-talented individuals exist, fit the bill, and have the additional factors that lead to inclusion, include them. Pretty simple.

Both Dave Hampton and Scottie Baldwin are masters in their fields. Both have long resumes of impressive work with major musicians. These two gentlemen are in a unique class of people. In the same way that “Can’t Nobody Do It Like Prince Do,” can’t nobody share an experience like the ones who experienced it. Only a select few people can truly say they were a part of helping create the amazing sound of Prince.

Speaking of amazing sounds…Prince Live! That. Is. All. His live shows are the true Gold. Scottie Baldwin is known to be the man where Prince’s live sound is concerned over many years. ‘Member that One Night Alone Live!? Well, as many of us know, Piano & A Microphone (P&M) 2016, HE WAS THERE. Although we no longer have Prince in the physical, Mr. Baldwin is still here. Where is the P&M 2016 official release? Yes, I’m asking again, dammit. Next week will be four years. Sigh.

Why are these majorly talented, extremely knowledgeable, directly connected gentlemen not already on the job? Does. Not. Compute.

PAISLEY PARK IS IN YOUR HEART, ANY LOVE4ONEANOTHER IN THERE?

I was present at a PRN Alumni Foundation event back in September 2017, where Mr. Hampton and Mr. Baldwin were on a Recording Engineers Panel, along with Susan Rogers, Hans Martin-Buff, and Paul Peterson, moderated by Michael Dean. Dave reminded us, saying, as he was reminded by Susan, that “Paisley Park is the building. It is a magnificent place, a wonderful building, but it was occupied by people, and it was occupied by one person in particular, who brought everybody together, and it’s really important that we differentiate… that we remember what HE was about.” Real sentiment from someone who was an integral part of the Purple Phenomenon.

Some Purple Protectors who played a smaller, more distant role seem to love to instruct others on how to properly show love for the Purple One, publicly rebuking, and chastising others for the tiniest violations of the Purple Playbook Rules. Are these same Protectors cognizant of the disrespect and exclusion they themselves engage in, especially when it comes to Fam who don’t look like them?

Can’t forget the Periwinkles (i.e., never saw a show, never bought an album, yet know all) and their mission to discount every professional who comes forward to help add positive flavor to the narrative. In my day-to-day dealings with some who call themselves PurpleFam, I have found that many of the loudest do the least research and often speak out of turn. Some are people with no actual information, no ties to anyone or anything to do with Prince or the Purple World, offer no talent or special skills, and just want to be seen/heard. I’ve also seen that in most cases, the ones actually and actively doing The Work, go about doing so quietly, speaking only at appropriate times. No time for idol chitchat, they’re working.


I’m as opinionated as any PurpleGirl. I go to Paisley whenever I can - currently getting gift certificates worked out for my cancelled April Tours. :( However, and I say this regularly, I know how to stay in my lane. I can say what I think, but unless something is blatantly wrong, I’m not trying to shut down or discount professionals who worked with the man, and maintained long-term, positive relationships with him.

Paisley is the place, the physical manifestation, his musical playground. It’s tangible, easily seen. People seem to be more protective of it than they are of what he stood for. He showed us what he was about in deed. To date, protection of his principles seems to be focused on limited areas, from on high, down the noses of those who stand to net a profit from their narrative.

How can the narrative of his entire, amazing life be limited in this way? Based on actions he took when he was here, if it’s really all about following his lead, one would think more perspectives would be included. Double Sigh. Some of the best are still with us and willing to share their experiences and expertise. What you waiting for?[3]

One last thing, to The Ones in Power: Please, please, pretty please, screen a P&M 2016 show online next week to honor Him in this 4th year since he transcended. Many of us would physically be present at Paisley Park next week but cannot due to the current health crisis. I speak for myself in saying that I will pay whatever’s required to see that last unseen, live footage. Triple Sigh. There are many, many others who will too.

Much Love 2 u,

Violet

IG: @violetesq

@violetbinteractive

www.VioletBInterACTive.com

PRINCE/365 A CELEBRATION

[1]“Is He A Brother?” Dave Hampton & Scottie Baldwin Interview, 4/13/2020, Podcast on Prince at https://www.patreon.com/podcastjuice/posts [2] The Time Prince Made A Magazine Find A Black Woman To Interview Him, By Lily Workneh, HuffPost Black Voices, 4/26/2016 at https://www.huffpost.com/entry/that-time-prince-made-a-magazine-find-a-black-woman-to-interview-him_n_571f7f15e4b0f309baee89a6 [3] Lyrics from There’llNeverB (Another Like Me), PRINCE, MPLSound, NPG Records (2009).






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