Still will Stand All Time o)->

Music Pharaoh Prince has passed away to be the greatest among the greats and a God to the living
"Ask your mother, your sister, your brother, they'll never be ANOTHER LIKE ME" Prince

Jerome Espree

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As it was written in the Gospel of Thomas "No prophet is accepted in his own village; no physician heals those who know him.", Honorable Prince Rogers Nelson is being recognized around the world by Presidents, Politicians, Legends and Friends. Before his passing, millions of us joined the NPG club and gave him an unprecedented following that he and only he could activate at a moments notice. In the song Let It Go, he refers to those numbers "Now, I got an army and we're 3 million strong". Everyone else had to promote through traditional means like radio, flyers and local TV appearances to make sure they had a good crowd. Prince fired up a 900 number in the 90's and encouraged people to join him in a New Power Generation. He and his crew rolled every since.

Before I go any farther, I would like to insert: Prince Rogers Nelson, 57, passed away suddenly on Thursday April 21, 2016 at his estate, Paisley Park, in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The 44th President of the United States Barrack Obama said: 'Today, the world lost a creative icon. Michelle and I join millions of fans from around the world in mourning the sudden death of Prince. 'Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly, or touched quite so many people with their talent. 'As one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time, Prince did it all. Funk. R&B. Rock and roll. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer. ''A strong spirit transcends rules,' Prince once said - and nobody's spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his band, and all who loved him'

(On the day he passed away, the top 15 songs and 10 albums sold on itunes were all Prince)

Every Prince friend understand that he has created a song for every situation, moment, occasion and event for life. He will forever be known to me as the Soundtrack Of Life - SOuL. Prince fans are like trekies, they are all around you but you will never know until a subtle reference turn on the switch that bonds you for life. There are levels of Prince understanding or acceptability when you are introduced to the Pharaoh Prince. No one judges what level you're on but your conversation with other friends will be elevate based on that scale.

("He was funky. He was thoughtful. He was spiritual. He was deviant. He was creative. He was powerful. He was loving. He was innovative. He was sexual. He was unapologetic. He rocked. He crooned. He shocked. He dared. He pushed music to a higher level and he took us all along for the ride. " Author Marilyn Sims - Bright, Shiny, Nothing)

I was introduced to his music (Level 1 - 3) because of my first clock radio. Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad, must have been in heavy rotation during that time. Every time the alarm/radio came on, I didn't move to any song but within 10 minute that guitar riff came on and I was up. I can still hear, how he closed out that song. Then, just before the jump-off of Rap/Hip Hop I heard my boys C Rome and DJ Andre of the McNasty Crew in the cuse, mixing Lady Cab Driver (Level 4 - 6) on the turntables and I started paying attention. Now, I would later come to realize that when you start listening to songs like Something In The Water, Tambourine, Vicky Waiting, Anna Stesia and Eye No, you move up levels really quickly. At that time, I still didn't understand Prince fans, until I got an education from a fellow college freshman Desmond Conner. After that grad level course, I was on board and we are friends for life. SOuL music has a way of doing that. A few months later, Christal Young, Rae Gandy, someone else and I went to the movies and we watched Purple Rain. Or, was is Biney and Kelton, either way people partied during the music scenes, like I've never seen at the movies. Now, you would think I would have made a trip to the Carrier Dome in Syracuse for the epic Purple Rain concert (it was a world wide satellite pay per view broadcast event), but I didn't. No regrets, I'm lock in with the SOuL Prince.

("Now that the white house is black, we gotta take the radio back" Ol' Skool Company - MlpSound)

After a number of Prince friends reveal themselves over the next few years with personal brushes with greatness stories, I didn't desire to see a live show because I didn't know what real fans knew. The Prince experience is a live one and it's level 9 on the Prince scale of friends. Yes, you can like videos and buy the music but if you stop there you can't get past level 8. The key to the next level for me was my guide into the world of Joey Coco, my cousin Cedric in Houston. The ultimate friend of the SOuL, who has the purple gene in his dna. He has the concert stubs and partying sprit that is required for admission. I consider myself a sidekick when he's in the room. Not only did he and I track down the rumored, non existent black market Black Album in Houston, we were in the building for the LoveSexy Tour at the Summit. Thanks cuz for helping me reach level 9. I could have been there years ago with my cousin Darrell Payne or Dez but apparently I wasn't ready. They didn't tell me about the magnetic draw of women at that level of understanding. Women love Prince and they felt close to men who were unapologetically down with that. I can't tell you how many times I sang Forever in my Life and She's Always In My Hair, sorry back to the program.

In a recent conversation Cedric said he told someone, that he knew his cousin was all in as a friend of SOuL because I flew from New York to Houston for a show, that we had $30 tickets for. We didn't care, we were in the building. Little did I know, it was the point where I had my literal brush with greatness. He and I went to a club the night before the show and there was no standing, dancing and barely breathing room. This club had two levels (not referring to the Prince levels in this article.) and while standing on the stairs someone bumped into me, so I looked down the stairs, alerted him to the screaming ladies and we soon realize that Prince was in the building. I didn't know how late they were in noticing the SOuL was there but my cousin said did you know that was prince that bumped into you? Because of his height, I didn't see him but Cedric noticed the fro, plus Prince looked at Cedric to see what I was pointing at. That cheap $30 ticket was just to get us in the door but we ended up watching that show from the 5 row on the flo (not a typo it's shorthand for floor). I'm officially level 9.

("In the middle of my depression, and the dreadful state of the music culture at that time Purple Rain gave me hope, Prince was like a light in the darkness," Rock Legend Eric Clapton)

I can't possible talk about all of the Prince related friends I have or stories we've shared in this piece. My mission in writing today was to get away from the media surface coverage and petty, nosey, gossip that sells or gets ratings for the same corporations that Prince knew, didn't have any of our best interest at heart. I would like all friends to take a break and remember their own sound track of this genius. International Lover, Another Lonely Christmas, Thieves in the Temple, If I Was Your Girlfriend, Pop Life or what ever unlocks a moment of love or life for you. Just in typing names of songs I had thought, was it T Dean who had The Ballad of Dorothy Parker in rotation or was it G. Edge. I know Chris Edwards song was Darling Nikki. I think I'm gonna have to make a couple of calls to my people. Just thinking about his music brings fans or other great musicians to mind. Super Producer (and fellow genius) Nevelle Hodge tops that list with Steven Wise (both may be level 10), Seth Marcel and Jeff Houston, all of them I would consider level 9 on my scale. I appreciate the hours of conversations from everyone over the years.

On a side note to the Sims girls Jasmine and Danielle, did I ever tell you that I sang Starfish and Coffee to you when you were babies? So, if you ever find that song particularly familiar to you, know you heard it before the age of 3. :) I can go on for days, weeks and years with stories in the life of this Prince friend, but I will save it for a possible part 2, 3 or 4. Lets go to the next level.

(Sold 100 Million albums over his career, not counting the music he sold directly to Fans. The first of his 40+ albums was released in 1978)

Reaching level 10 of this experience is reserved for those who actually know him. I'm not talking about his family because we were introduced to him through his songs, videos and music. I'm talk about the folks he worked with or talked to. Prince philanthropy is the 10th level. Giving songs, shows and support to We Are The World, Black Lives Matter, The Million Man March, The Movie Malcolm X, 21 show to keep the LA forum open and much more. Recently Van Jones said Prince called him to check on Singer Lauren Hill's kids, when she was reportedly in the news. Some of the quote from people like Sheila E, Jimmy "Jam" Harris and others are helping all of us to know the soul that is Prince. We know he was not a mystery and he was not a open book.

As a level 9, a media publisher and a political strategist, I've learned that Media outlets and reporters never need to know what you are doing or why you are doing anything. The story tellers will said weird things but it's important that your actual words represent you first hand or the words of friends. Never a 3rd party. Here are some words from his friends.

"He was mysterious manly to preserve his own energy" George Clinton, Parliament Funkadelic

"Freedom, Emancipation, Fearlessness, he was self liberated, he surrendered to his art, he surrendered musically" Michaela Angela Davis, prince's former stylist

"The heartbreak is to see this man, who was so talented, be taken away from us" The Legendary Stevie Wonder

"His legacy? I think his music is his immortality. That sums it up." Andre Cymone, Chidhood Best Friend and Bandmate

I don't even know what's going on in the world since I heard the news. It's too surreal. Sheila Escovedo, Sheila E

"Black Lives Matter inspired him more than anything else and his big prayer is that they become an economic force create jobs, create apps, creating music and companies." and "Phatra Ellis Lampkins, his manager got him is masters and catalog back for Warner Brothers. She came out of the labor movement and didn't have a law degree and won." It needed to be said. Van Jones, CNN contributor.

(Prince reportedly wrote his first song when he was seven. Prince's latest album, HITnRUN Phase One, was released last year)

I hope that fellow level 9 SOuL friends know songs like 17 days, Insatiable, Positivity, Come, 7, We Can Funk, Hot Wit U, White Mansion, Valentina, Thunder, We March, The Question Of U, So Dark and Joint 2 Joint. If not, your refresher sessions are going to renew you. If your not there and you find yourself climbing the levels of the Prince Ladder, we will be there waiting with open arms. Prince Rogers Nelson We Wish U Heaven, you are Free and Still Will STAND ALL TIME!

Love is God, God is Love, Girls and Boys love God Above.

J. Espree

Reader Comments

"This is a great testimony to also brings up some wonderful memories...thanks for the beautiful article" - Melanie

"I thought I was a number 1 fan but after reading your article, I have to go back to school. I need to be at level 9." - Kim

"Great article my brother well said and written" - Mr. LES

"You said it perfectly--he was the SOuL for all of us. Level 9 and proud of it. Thank you Jerome." - Linda

"What a great piece on one of the grestest talents ever. I must have listened to the Sign of the Times LP a few hundred times. I was hooked." - Marilyn

"All throughout my life Prince was a big part of my soundtrack... While working on my acts so project (in High School) I remember falling in love with the design of his website and it was that genius and that creativity that stood out about prince. I loved his music and still do." - Jennifer

"Thank you for your article Jerome Espree I truly enjoyed it and need to brush up on my levels. He was SOul, he embodied real music and not what was just selling. His creativity, openness, style, concern and true passion is what made him PRINCE." - L. Jackson

"Nice piece! I know I used to run Darlin Nikky, Erotic City, and Ballad of Dorothy Parker a lot! My albums Black Album, Sign O' The Times, For You!" - T. Dean

Thank you for this wonderful tribute to Prince. This is what I needed, just an acknowledgement of his greatness and fierceness. I love that he love freedom so much, and I love that if it had to happen this way, that what we can share is that Prince is now forever free. Level 9 fo sho. Whenever it rains I see purple. SOL2. Soundtrack of Life Sounds of Love. Rest forever my dear sweet Prince. - Cathleen

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Published April 28, 2016 ap

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