A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Remembering an Icon: Four Artists Prince Inspired

On April 21st, 2016, the music world lost one of the greatest musicians ever: Prince Rodgers Nelson. Fans all over the world have been mourning Prince’s death, with buildings everywhere being lit up in his signature shade of purple–including our own city hall. But I don’t enjoy mourning death, I prefer celebrating life. Prince tested the limits of music and live performance, opening the door for many popular artists today. His influence on culture is undeniable, and because of this, I have decided to compile a list of some other great artists who have been inspired by Prince.

Alicia Keys:

Alicia Keys is very vocal about Prince’s influence on her, and has mentioned him in many interviews, and even some songs. She covered his 1982 ballad, “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore”, on her debut album Songs in A Minor in 2001. After his death, she reflected on the impact of his work: “Prince was a gift, a genius and a reminder that we have no limits… his music left me changed forever. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, there is only one Prince,”

Justin Timberlake:

JT sings high. Very high. He has mentioned several times he began singing like this by listening to Prince’s albums when he was a little kid. After Prince’s death, he paid tribute to Prince by writing a long caption on a recent Instagram post about Prince and how he will be remembered forever. Describing the impact Prince had on our culture, he said, “It would be silly to say that he has inspired our music. It’s beyond that. He’s somewhere within every song I’ve ever written.”

Abel Tesfaye, better known by his stage name “The Weeknd”, has also been vocal about Prince’s influence on him. He recently tweeted a picture of himself shaking Prince’s hand at the The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, calling it “the greatest moment of my entire life”. The Weeknd’s distinct style and impressive vocal range, similar to JT’s, has clearly been inspired by Prince and his work.

Kendrick Lamar’s brand new album “Untitled Unmastered”, has clearly drawn inspiration from one of Prince’s earlier studio albums, with “no song titles, no covers, just music”. The two collaborated on Lamar’s hit album To Pimp A Butterfly at Prince’s Paisley Park studio. Unfortunately, the song was never released due to timing conflicts. However, Lamar told Hot 97 that he was not disappointed the pair never finished a song, and mostly appreciated the opportunity to spend time with such an incredible artist.

As you can tell, Prince’s widespread influence in the music industry has created a large legacy that will many, many years. For now, we bid farewell to one of the greatest.