, 58 tweets, 17 min read
Art Official Cage : An Exploration of Prince and Afrofuturism (Art by @SpencerDerryART)
First, what IS Afrofuturism?

We know all about the legend of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic (Art by @SpencerDerryART)
(See this moment to catch up if you don't) twitter.com/i/moments/1153…
But let’s talk more about Sun Ra spoken about here by Paul Youngquist.

The podcast he mentions is is here : utpress.utexas.edu/podcasts/paul-…

More than a few connects to someone we know and love, huh?
Tonight we’ll look at how Prince envisions a better future for Black people on OUR terms, rather than what society has decided for us. We’ll be exploring how he weaves technology, science, and philosophy in his take on Freedom, Equity, and Agency through his eyes as a Black man.
Everybody knows that Prince can write a danceable jam, but how much have you paid attention to what he’s saying?
In 1981, on the album Controversy, Prince imagines a world where there is no segregation or race in his song Sexuality.
Freedom to exist in authenticity without being boxed in by expectations is a theme that runs through much of Prince’s music and presentation.

Songlink : song.link/us/i/214145221
In this particular song, he extends the idea of identity liberation in naming avenues that introduce restrictive bias, or in other words, you can’t be boxed into an expectation, if you avoid defining the box.
(Also shout out to 2001's The Rainbow Children as that last lyric shows up there as well…but we’ll go there later…)
In 1982’s DMSR from 1999, he creates a space where everyone can feel included to have fun! But did you notice that one lyric he slipped in there in the between the futuristic synth laden funk?

songlink : song.link/us/i/214145568
The lyric “police ain’t got no gun, you don’t have to run” weighs heavily especially now….
Future Soul Song, 20Ten, Prince dreams of a world where everyone sings and lives in perfect harmony.

songlink : song.link/us/i/1421414141
While the first part of the song speaks about an alternate dimension where people exist only in light and love, he takes the song in a different direction as he turns his gaze on reality.
He notes that while some can block things out and “put up no fight” if the war doesn’t impact them, not everyone has the privilege to live in such a state. He sings that the right to exist without fear of dogmatic persecution is a right we should ALL have.
Phew! Shall we come up for air a bit before we dive back under?
While Afrofuturism generally requires more than a reference to technology or futuristic ideas to be considered on brand, I would be remiss to not mention a couple of spacey techy songs…
(again not meant to be exhaustive, just some of my faves)
Poor lonely computer. It’s time someone programmed you…
Computer Blue (Hallway Speech), Purple Rain

songlink : song.link/us/i/1229320875
It was Sunday night, instead of doing what I usually do I…

My Computer, Emancipation
songlink : song.link/us/i/1421452421
This just sounds like it’s from ANOTHER PLANET!

3121, 3121

songlink : song.link/t/92985240
A meditation on energetically being one with the universe and each other…to ease us back into the theme tonight…

Boom, Lotusflow3r

songlink : song.link/us/i/1421414073
Alright, are we ready? Let’s get back into it!
Technology as an avenue to Freedom, Equity, Agency.
As we know, Prince has always been a HUGE proponent for ownership. He spent decades pursuing ownership of his master recordings, was fiercely protective of his intellectual property, and was a huge champion for other artists owning their own work.
He has been especially vocal about Black people not only keeping control of their creations, but also creating their institutions to circulate and promote their own work. (See his work with Tidal, and his own internet distribution channels to distribute his music)
(Also shout out to Tyler Perry and the opening of his movie studio in Atlanta this past week)
Here is a snippet of an aside Prince gave to an audience about the importance of Black Ownership and wealth building November 11, 2000.

Full version here : vimeo.com/231415166
The movie Bamboozled Prince mentioned is a Spike Lee joint! Hear that second background song?
It’s Prince! He contributed 2045 : Radical Man to the Bamboozled soundtrack!

songlink : song.link/us/i/1421416388
(It's also where the #PlantingFlagsInTheFunk hashtag comes from as that’s a take on a lyric from that song)
Next from an album that is near and dear to my heart, and one that honestly could have an entire symposium dedicated to its connection to Afrofuturism…The Rainbow Children.
Let’s talk about Family Name…and the actual meaning behind the phrase “Rainbow Children”.

songlink : song.link/us/i/1421414475
Want to make sure you caught that...
So does that mean?
It’s about programming. The world “minority” in of itself invokes an assumption of powerlessness. Prince speaks to the collective agency, and power, of those who are underrepresented.
When considering your heritage and understanding you’re part of something greater, the differences aren’t separations, but aspects that can contribute to “diverse unity”, like the colors of a rainbow.
The resistance is 2 fold : It being necessary to de-program the systematically placed inferiority complexes we carry within ourselves, but, also as otherwise explored on the Rainbow Children album, to tear down institutions that program in that resistance in the first place.
Let’s continue…
While most references to the Akashic Records aren’t as on the nose as a computer system as depicted in this song, it is known to be a system that houses all there is to know about the universe.
We see that Prince uses it to convey cosmic knowledge as well as to pull forward historical references to speak to his points in this song.
SOOOOO much more to come on that! Will be doing an epic length Muse podcast on this album in the future!
But speaking of downloading information…from "computer systems"
The Themes of The Rainbow Children show up again 8 years later in Colonized Mind from the Lotusflow3r collection.

songlink : song.link/us/i/1421414682
Also have to note Miriam Makeba, another artist in the pantheon of Afrofuturism. This is her song Quit It from her 1974 album A Promise.

songlink : song.link/us/i/475821053
Agency. The freedom to be and to live, outside of expectations, outside of bias, outside of limitations.
He’s seen the future and it will be…What would rap be like without the economic and systematic circumstances that drove the topics of violence?

songlink : song.link/us/i/213038821
Welcome 2 the Dawn! Let’s check out an experience that speaks to working to free people of their limitations

songlink : song.link/us/i/1421416954
In Art Official Cage Prince considers the circumstances he was born into due to the rules of society, and imagines a more free place somewhere in the future, for those who are willing to fight for it.

songlink : song.link/us/i/911631221
In this brand new age
We do everything quick, fast in a hurry
All of our lives a stage
Everybody stars, reality so blurry...

Clouds, also from Art Official Age 2014

songlink : song.link/us/i/911631222
Kind of nice to think of The Professor being in held in suspended animation for a few decades...
And so we complete this exploration of Afrofuturism in the work of Prince.
Prince should be noted for his contributions in expanding the boundaries of human consciousness, especially as it relates to Black people, as the work of his life has created a wider space for us to feel free to authentically be.
Thank you, Professor.

It’s now on us to be willing 2 do the work.
Ignore this tryna see something...

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