Race – Prince

The iconic artist speaks about equality.

Considered one of the best and most versatile artists of all time, Prince definitely left a huge hole in the music industry when he passed away last 21st April due to a fentanyl overdose. His music heritage will remain vivid in his fans and colleagues who adored him in the last 40 years.

One of the things that most characterized this singer, song-writer, producer and actor, besides his incredible voice, is the fact that Prince has always been questioned about his ethnicity and sexuality. In fact his light brown skin has been an issue for years, he was appointed as son of a half black father and an Italian mother, but the surprising thing is that his music captured both black and white communities, at a time where these two worlds were still so far apart, especially in the music business, and made him a hero for many biracial kids.

About his sexuality, Prince has had a countless number of relationships with beautiful women, both in his personal life and on stage, where they represented a kind of reflection of him. His unique style, made of bold outfits and flamboyant makeup, marked his sexual ambiguity and made him an icon for the LGBT community.

Born in 1958, Prince Rogers Nelson got close to music at a very early age, and signed his first contract with Warner Bros. Records at the age of 18. His music is a mix of styles, from funk to pop to rock, R&B, new wave and soul. Prince’s desire for freedom in all aspects of his existence, became very clear from the controversy he had with his record company. In fact, in 1993, against his label which he thought was limiting his work as an artist, he changed his name to the unpronounceable symbol Prince logo.svg to which people started referring to as the Love Symbol. Until the year 2000 the music master was used to be called “the Artist Formerly Known as Prince” or simply “The Artist”.

It was at the time of the dispute that the album Come was released, which include the song “Race”, an anthem to equality and to the absurdity of racism. Although “Race” is not the only and probably not the most famous piece Prince sang about this issue, the song is a deeply felt reflection that uses the funky rhythm that so distinguished this singer. From the lyrics it is clear that Prince’s intent is to discredit all the nonsense about race, because in the end “We all bones when we dead” and referring to black and white people “Both the blood is red“.

Important is the reference to the positive innocence of children. In the song he refers to a little white girl, who doesn’t even notice the difference between races and skin colours until someone tells her. In Prince’s words, kids represent the future, and adults must set the example right, they have the obligation to be a positive role: “And if he imitates the best / I guess that’s what I’ll try to be / And I will let the rest dissolve with my guitar underneath the sea”.  Infact, it was to empower young black kids that Prince, together with CNN commentator Van Jones, started the project Yes We Code,” to help them achieve a more promising future”.

Throughout his life and career, Prince has always spent himself for the fight for equality and peace, especially to end violence against the black community. In particular from 2000 he was involved in supporting black activism and black causes. During the War in Iraq, lead by the then US President Bush, he said to the Telegraph: 

“They talk about all these terrorists. But I didn’t feel no terror until the media told me to feel it. Who am I supposed to be feeling terrified of?”

He was never afraid to ‘go political’, and to sing about relevant issues; for example in 2015 he released the song Baltimore to honor the death of the young African-American Freddy Gray, killed by Baltimore police officers.

In the end we are all humans, and Prince uses the power of music to express his beliefs out loud.

 

Due to rights limitations we could not put a video, to listen to the song click here.

Lyrics

Lie down, (fair one, pheromone), and come away
Till the rain is over and gone
G-G-Gimme the beat now (Face the music)
Lead line (Face the music)

If the air is a little thick in this room tonight
I reckon it’s the result of an onslaught of separatist rookies
Overcome by this colorful sight

Talkin’ so fast that even they
Talkin’ so fast that even they
Don’t know what they mean

Of all the things that base a rhyme
How is it that you every time
Regurgitate the racist lines that keep us apart?

Thank God this ain’t Monopoly
You’d make us all go back to start

Race
In the space I mark human (Face the music)
Race
Face the music
We all bones when we dead

Race
In the space I mark human (Face the music)
Cut me, cut you
Both the blood is red

I gotcha

Race
Race

Check it

Three seats over there’s a lady black
Entrusted to her care is a little white girl
And the fact of the matter is

Before her momma or another kid at school
Tells her about the fallacy that one race rules over the other
She’d be a much-better-off-left fool (Face the music)

If we never heard about the evils that those before us committed
Then how my dear, tell me now how my dear, tell me now how now would we know

And then the band say

Race
In the space I mark human (Face the music)
Race
Face the music
We all bones when we dead

Race
In the space I mark human (Face the music)
Cut me, cut you
Both the blood is red

I gotcha

Race
Race
(Face the music)

D-d-down with h-i-s-t-o-r-y and all this BS propagandi
Keepin’ you from me and me from you as we grow
I don’t want to know (I don’t want to know)
Why those before us hated each other

I’d rather believe they never did
I’d rather believe (I’d rather, I’d rather believe)
That there’s hope for a kid

And if he imitates the best
I guess that’s what I’ll try to be
And I will let the rest dissolve with my guitar underneath the sea

Race
(Face face face face face)
Face the music (Face the music)
Face the music

Race
In the space I mark human (Face the music)
Race
Face the music
We all bones when we dead

Race
In the space I mark human (Face the music)
Cut me, cut you
Both the blood is red

Get it?
Race
Got it

Race
Face the music
Race race
(Face face face the music)
Race race
(Face face face the music)
Race race
Race race
(Face-F-Face the music)

Race

Race – Prince
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Sounds from the Bucket
Francesca Aloisio

Francesca is both an International Relations graduate and a dancer living in Rome. She is particularly interested in international issues, intercultural learning and culture sharing, as well as music and arts. She is currently a consultant for the UN agency IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) in the communication division.
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