Prince’s Legacy on Hip-Hop

On April 21st, the music world lost a true genius. Prince was a lot of things: a world-renowned pop culture icon, an extraordinarily talented individual, a downright cool dude, and an influential musician. Not only was his music exceptional in every sense, but his influence has continually shaped the state of music for the last five decades. Many artists can’t attest to this, but Prince’s reach spanned across genres from R&B to Rock to Jazz and so on. Today’s music world without Prince would likely be less colourful, less experimental, less sexy.

Hip-hop, music’s most popular genre as of today, would not be the same without Prince. One of Prince’s most notable accomplishments was helping to bridge the gap between black music and popular music. Many hip-hop artists were immersed in this movement as a child, or were at least descendants of it. Judging from the reaction on Twitter, news of Prince’s death was a tough pill for a lot of rappers to swallow.

Another one of Prince’s cultural accomplishments included his ability to push sexuality into the conscience of mainstream music. This had a profound effect on Frank Ocean who wrote an extremely emotional goodbye letter on his Tumblr page.

He moved me to be more daring and intuitive with my own work by his demonstration – Frank Ocean

Not only has his influence been hugely important to hip-hop, but The Roots Questlove penned an article explaining why he was hip-hop. Whether this is a legitimate claim or not, it’s hard to argue that Prince’s influence isn’t felt in hip-hop through both a social and musical lens. A lot of people were inspired to act like him, dress like him, perform like him, and so on. For the last 25-plus years, some rappers have been inspired enough to directly sample or interpolate Prince’s work in their own.

It’s not only that people wanted to be like and sound like Prince, he had an effect that reached further than idolatry. Prince made people feel comfortable about who they were. His quirks and abnormalities were accentuated and made to look cool. Why else would 2Pac – one of the hardest dudes ever – love the effeminate Prince? It’s not only because he loved woman. Prince gave Pac a sense of personhood. As a whole, he made us feel important and that’s why he’ll be so dearly missed.

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