Although he never meant to cause us any sorrow, or meant to cause us any pain, beloved music genius, the artist formerly known as Prince sadly passed away on April 21, at the age of 57. Prince was the man who pioneered Minneapolis sound, and was groundbreaking in his peculiar style, synthesized range, and androgynous fashion. The artist left this world with millions to mourn his iconic performing style.
As the child of a father who ingrained what we call “real music” into my mind from a very young age, Prince overlapped with my adolescence. I remember breaking the societal norm of my elementary classroom and grabbing the purple marker when I drew rain, because purple was way better than ordinary blue. I remember the look on my second grade teacher’s face as I hummed the lyrics, and her asking me if I knew who Prince was. And it is because of these memories, and the memories of millions of others who can relate Prince’s music back to some point in their lives, that his passing is even more heartbreaking.
His sound was one that captivated us all. From the smooth funk of the rhythm, the sweet sensation of the falsetto, and the lyrical whirlwind of insanity and savoir faire combined, Prince did it all. His effortless stage presence entranced the world. The amount of personality and flair in five feet and two inches of a person never failed to astound me.
“Kiss,” “Little Red Corvette,” “Gett Off,” and “When Doves Cry” are a few examples of his songs that have yet to grow old in meaning, relevance, and greatness. Every lyric had purpose and emotion that brought the world to realize the paradox of love, the relationship between anguish and bliss, and the societal gender divide.
After the news of his passing shocked the world to its very core, adding another great name to 2016’s continuously growing death count, people around the world did as they are known to do in times of great pain. Thousands came together via social media to mourn the beloved musical genius in the best way they knew how: purple.
As always with Prince’s style, he made the color his own. He recognized that green belonged with nature, and red with passion, and blue with the sea and sky. But purple was something new. Neither masculine nor feminine, neither passive nor aggressive, a color that brought everyone a new beginning, purple would become a phenomenon with his artistry, and the world is basking in it to pay tribute.
Snapchat added a Prince filter that allowed everyone to laugh in their own purple rain and featured a story dedicated to the icon, highlighting countless individuals paying respects to the man that made music his own language.
But social media was not the only platform for tributes to the entertainer. The world was bathed in purple that Thursday evening, with buildings around the world celebrating the life of Prince with the color. NASA tweeted an image of a purple nebula, The New Yorker gave a sneak peek of the cover of their next issue (hint: purple rain), the LACMA made it rain purple in the rain room, and the Apollo Theater had their billboard adorned with his name. Even Lin-Manuel Miranda, along with the cast of Hamilton, led the audience in dancing, wild rendition of “Let’s Go Crazy,” and the cast of The Color Purple took advantage of the musical’s title in order to pay their respects to the fallen star. With each and every tribute, song, or ray of purple light, the world acknowledged that Prince will continue to live on.
So as people worldwide continue to mourn in their own ways, the memory of Prince lives on in his fans, lyrics, and the world that he created in his own crazy, beautiful, philosophical world. Wherever he is now, I’m sure that he is laughing in the purple rain.