Songs about him

Posted on 15th August 2016 in Journalism, R&B, Television

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Shortly after Prince’s death, it was announced that the singer’s vault of unreleased music may contain hundreds of completed songs. This wasn’t breaking news to his die-hard fans. The artist fomerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince may prove to be one of the prolific popular artists of our time. But Prince was also the subject of songs, some written by his former associates, rivals and old girlfriends. Here are four songs that are probably about Prince.


1. “Song About” – Wendy & Lisa
Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman are former members of Prince’s band The Revolution. This song was on their debut album after parting ways with Prince. The Girl Bros. don’t mention their former boss by name, but with lyrics such as “So strange that no one stayed at the end of the Parade,” a reference to the The Revolution’s final album, it’s pretty clear who this song is about.


2. “Disrespect” – The Gap Band
Prince’s popularity ebbed and flowed, so while he was always an icon, some times were better than others. After a scuffle with paparazzi on a night he was invited to sing on a charity single (“We Are the World”), Prince could’ve used some positive press. But The Gap Band, a trio of brothers from Oklahoma, weren’t about to sing his praises. The video for “Disrespect,” depicts an racially ambiguous cartoon rock star, flanked by ape-shaped body guards who is chased and teased after refusing to sign an autograph. “We dont’ like that!,” lead singer Charlie Wilson sings in one of the song’s few lyrics.


3. “Free World” Jesse Johnson
After The Time, a group that Prince produced, broke up, its talented members went on to make names for themselves. Jesse Johnson, the group’s guitarist, was the first to land a hit record, (“Be Your Man”) along with some unfavorable comparisons to Prince. These comments didn’t sit well with Johnson. On his song “Free World,” he sings, “Nobody Likes the Way I hold my Mike/They say it’s too much like my friend/The clothes that I wear, the way I wear my hair …” Johnson never mentions Prince, but his shadow looms over this cold funk attestation of identity and frustration.


4. “Sister Fate” Sheila E.
Percussionist Sheila E. was frequently coy about her relationship with Prince. Recently, she did confirm that in the heat of a musical moment, he proposed to her. Before that revelation, there was her single, “Sister Fate.” The track is about two people who are rumored to be lovers, and actually could be. Maybe. The lyrics might be unclear, but the music video makes it plain who sister Escovedo is swooning over with a pasted-in shot of Prince from the “Raspberry Beret” video.

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D’angelo’s ex-manager, Dominque Trenier dead

Posted on 7th August 2016 in Journalism, R&B

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I only spoke to Dominque Trenier once. I called him in an attempt to land a spot for a drummer friend of mine in D’angelo’s band. It was a good chat and I was left with the strong possibility that it might happen. I’d speak to D’angelo directly a couple of times before the near-certainty faded in to a not-gonna-happen. It was a little consolation that I wasn’t the only one this happened to. At the time, the business side of the singer’s act was a little chaotic, but the likely wasn’t Trenier’s doing. If he hadn’t been around, D’angelo’s early career certainly wouldn’t have been as iconic and memorable as it was.

It was Trenier’s idea for the singer to strip down for the “Untitled (How Does it Feel)” video, which saved his second album, “VooDoo,” which Trenier executive produced. Audiences were left with an enduring image of the singer, naked from the waist up, which wouldn’t be replaced for years. Trenier didn’t abandon his artist during his struggles with substance abuse, but he was eventually separated from in 2005 when he stopped communicating with much of his friends and family as his decent continued, according to Spin magazine.

Treneir’s contribution to D’angelo’s career was invisible to casual fans, but that’s how good manager operates. When D’angelo finally released his third album (“Black Messiah”) in 2015, it was bereft that invisible touch that guided his previous efforts. The cover lacked his picture. There would be no official videos. (No, this doesn’t count.) The album isn’t even credited to “D’angelo.” Good managers take care of the details and make things happen. If they do their job right, you might notice notice they’re around, until they aren’t.