Prince the Prophet
When I was a kid, I had my Mom buy Prince's album 1999 for me. I never gave it a second thought about the content or of Prince's personality, I just liked his music.
Unbeknownst to me, it was Prince's FIFTH album. Prince wasn't on my radar, nor my parents', before his music hit MTV in 1982. 1999 propelled Prince from local Minneapolis struggling artist to International Superstardom. I eventually wore out Side I, Album I of Prince's Double Album, I would listen to 1999, Little Red Corvette, & Delirious over and over. (Remember, I had the album on Vinyl.) I also liked the song Automatic, but didn't really care for the deep cuts of 1999.
2 short years later, a fickle teenager was done with Prince. The world fell in love with Purple Rain, but I didn't see the movie, I didn't buy the album. I liked a few of his singles, but didn't share that fact with my metalhead friends. By the time Around the World in a Day came out, 1999 was but a distant memory.
And that's the nature of Pop.
For many artists, if your fans are in school, Fickle Middle Schoolers turn into Edgy Teenagers and your career is over. But Prince was prolific, he bucked the Pop Trends, and churned out albums like nobody's business. Every year a new release came out and by Prince's 30th Birthday, he had already released 10 albums. And not short albums, mind you, but double albums and extended plays. The problem was, 1984's Purple Rain album went Diamond and each proceeding album charted lower and sold less. 1988's Lovesexy was a brief low water mark for the artist in terms of sales, but Prince was growing as an artist. Warner Bros. wanted more "Hits."
In the early 90's, Prince had a revelation. As his Love Symbol album would be his last Top 5 charting album, Prince wrote Slave on his face and proclaimed:
"But if I can't do what I want to do, what am I?" It's an existential question for an existential time in Prince's life...."I don't own Prince's music. If you don't own your masters, your master owns you." Prince in Rolling Stone in 1996
In 1992, I didn't understand how someone who had made millions of dollars could be a slave, but in retrospect, I believe that Prince's words resonate today. After Prince made his millions, he wanted out of his contract with Warner Bros. Part of the reason he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol was so that the Corporate Overlords couldn't properly market his name. But here is the defining difference between Prince and other millionaires, like Kyrie Irving, who chirp that they are "slaves." Prince didn't want a better contract for more money. And he didn't want to be a Suit running a record company in order to make more money, he simply wanted ownership of his own music. He didn't care if he made another million dollars in his life, he wanted the freedom to make music on his terms and to perform music on his terms.
The problem is, technically, slaves come in all colors, if you go by the Kyrie Irving definition. Irving's rationale seems to be that if you make money for the person who employs you, then you are a slave. Irving's definition casts a really wide net which includes a lot of Blacks, but also includes a ton of Whites, a shitload of Hispanics, piles of Asians, etc. (Multicultural slaves in America? 50 to 100 million.)
Again, by the Irving Theory, every single person who works at WalMart, Amazon, or McDonald's is a Slave because they are putting money into the Owner's Hands. I am not arguing for or against the Irving Theory, I am saying there's a lot of people in that category, not just Blacks in America.
In 1996, Prince fulfilled his contract to Warner Brothers and started releasing music though his own label NPG Records. Prince was a complex individual driven to create great music, but who also had a deep seated faith in God that seemingly contradicted the imagery created in songs like Let's Pretend We're Married.
After Prince's Warner Bros. days, he released an additional 20 albums. His first after WB was Emancipation, which was a 3 disc-3 hour affair. His overarching philosophy, once he was clear from Warner Bros. was to put his vision straight into the fans' hands. With the exceptions of maybe the Eagles or KISS, I can't think of any musicians that thrived by working within the music industry.
I remember Trent Reznor was so livid with his label that he wrote the song Happiness in Slavery and then made, maybe, the most inaccessible video ever to to promote it. (No, I couldn't find the video anywhere.) Reznor, too, eventually broke free from his label and released a four CD set Ghosts I-IV almost immediately. One of the pioneers cited in Reznor's approach? Prince.
Prince worked continuously until his passing in 2016 at the age of 57. He had successfully circumvented the standard business model, stayed in his home town of Minneapolis, and, even in death, has enough material to release music from the Paisley Park Vault for a 100 years.
Just a reminder, one of the most famous songs by Prince wasn't performed by Prince.
If this article is about Prince, why am I so annoyed with Kyrie Irving? Because Irving's act is a ruse.
Kyrie's Dad played pro ball in Australia and Irving grew up in the suburbs. I would argue his "art" is basketball. Irving would claim that it's not, his passion is social justice. Either way, let's analyze both.
Model #1: Basketball is Passion
Since entering the league from Duke University, Kyrie Irving has made over $125,000,000. If his passion is really basketball and he doesn't want to put more money in NBA owners' pockets, he has options. He can play in Europe, but that would just put money in EuroLeague owners' pockets.
Since there seems to be around 100 like minded NBA'ers, Irving could lead a group of players to leave the NBA. They could start their own league, rent out a complex, like in Orlando or Las Vegas, and have their very own league. Granted they wouldn't be able to make nine-digits worth of money, but they could create a business model that players own the rights of the product on the court and then they could market and profit from games. If the players aren't tied to a specific city, they would have a lot of creative options to make money vs the NBA Product.
Say Irving's team was the Black Knights. For the rest of time (or until copyright law runs out), Irving and his teammates would share the ownership of the '21 Black Knights. The Black Knights wouldn't focus on concessions or fans, they would be like a television production with a studio audience. Of course the Black Knights would need other teams to play, but if you had an 8 team league, I'm sure you could get some network or streaming entity to get in on the ground floor of some live telecasts, especially if you put the ownership stake in the players' hands.
The problem? Let's say the name of the League is the International Players League. What happens in the IPL if the Black Knights crush the opposition and easily win the IPL Championship? Good for Kyrie, but how are the players on the other 7 teams going to market their products? After 1 season, a lot of those players in the IPL are jumping back to the NBA for that guaranteed check and a place where players aren't held 100% accountable for losing. What the IBL will create, (that NBA Players love) is more drama.*
Model #2: Social Justice is Passion
How many Nike commercials did you see Prince make? I don't recall seeing Prince in a commercial in my life. How many commercials have I seen Gene Simmons in? A ton. How 'bout Kyrie Irving? That whole Uncle Drew Movie was a Pepsi Commercial. ("Uncle Drew was held back by formulaic direction and too much product placement.")
Kyrie Irving is all about branding Kyrie Irving, just like LeBron James is about branding LeBron James. But let's say, for the sake of argument, that Irving has simply outgrown basketball. Again, he has made $125,000,000 in his career. If Kyrie really feels like a slave, he can opt out of his contract right this second and move into the next phase of his life.
When Prince was a slave to Warner Bros., he couldn't leave and make music anywhere else or Warner would have sued his brains out. But what Prince could've done, for example, was act. He could've flat out dedicated himself to acting, quit music, and not been in breach of contract. Warner Bros. could've taken old Prince releases and put out Prince Greatest Hits Albums until the contract was fulfilled. (That's why Alice in Chains has 5 Greatest Hits Albums at Columbia.) Same thing with Kyrie, literally nothing is stopping him from walking away from basketball and starting his social activism career right this second. He just wouldn't get the rest of his contract.
Kyrie needs to follow his conscious.
But here's the issue. Black players, like LeBron & Kyrie, are selling you that this is a racist nation. They are both paid by Nike to tell you America is racist, then they market their gear to young Blacks who agree that America is racist. In 2020, Racism markets to a certain audience. Neither player is ready to quit basketball and go into social activism full time because they are only selling one specific slice of racism: White Cop/Black Victim Racism aka "Institutional Racism." LeBron would admittedly like to play a few more years of basketball, but Kyrie is "supposedly" ready to chuck it all away. Both players are leveraging the NBA Product to be both basketball AND social activism.
There are 2 problems with that. The first is that some fans won't buy basketball and social activism. What percentage is that? 1%? 5%? 20%? 50%? The second problem is that If you don't have any problems with the NBA and social activism, then I sure hope you don't have any problems with Chick-FIl-A and their Christian activism, because it is exactly the same thing. Unfortunately, I know some people who won't eat Chicken Sandwiches because of a corporate philosophy.
NASCAR did the right thing and banned the Confederate Flag from races. Wait a year or two and see what the repercussions are for NASCAR for doing the right thing.
If Kyrie can suck it up and stay in the NBA for 3 more years, he will have had a guaranteed contracts that will have paid him a total of $225,000,000, or nearly a quarter of a billion dollars by 2023. Do you know the changes you can make socially for a quarter of a billion dollars? He can lobby for multiple real changes in the criminal justice system and police departments across America. A quarter of a billion dollars buys you a lot of access to politicians. You could donate millions to Black Lives Matter and not feel it in your bank account. You could leave basketball behind and carve your own path.
Players like Kyrie claim they're slaves, don't want to put money in a white man's pockets, then implore the same exact corporate entities that they need to address racism while cashing their checks...
BUT DAMMIT FRED HUNT, RACISM IS TOO IMPORTANT TO IGNORE ANY LONGER!
All of this current unrest began because of the egregious treatment of George Floyd. That cop should be tried for murder and go to jail. The other 3 cops in the Floyd Case are going to get off with a simple termination because they used tactics used in police manuals. You can scream that they didn't stop Derek Chauvin, but that is where police reform needs to come in.
You want to hire more Black Cops? Great Idea.
You want to re-write Police Training Manuals? Absolutely.
You want to be able to get rid of Bad Cops easier? Listen, no matter what occupation, name any occupation, you have to have mechanisms to keep good employees and get rid of bad employees. I've been reading that there needs to be police reform at Libertarian websites like Reason for over a decade. Reason's premise is that cops constantly overstep their bounds by infringing on the rights guaranteed to citizens by the Constitution. As a kid, I listened to Jello Biafra talk about how bad cops beat up Punks for fun in the 80's.
You want to defund the Police? You are either crazy, stupid, or an anarchist.
Fred Hunt, if you're so smart, what's the biggest problem in the world today? Everyone else clearly agrees that it is racism.
Since Day 1 of Beacon of Speech in 2016, I have been crystal clear that the biggest problem in the world is.....CHINA!
China, today, has Concentration Camps. Not 200 years ago, not 100 years ago. T-O-D-A-Y.
Of course China doesn't call them that, they are "Re-education Camps."
Over a million people populate the camps in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
One day you disappear, then you may reappear a year later, or you may never reappear.
Donald Trump Doesn't Care
LeBron Doesn't Care
The Catholic Church Doesn't Care
Why don't they care? They are PAID not to care. China doles out billions of dollars so you don't question what they do. Don't believe me? Click on those links above.
Rich social justice warriors like Kyrie Irving want to disband police departments, then solve issues through mediation. That's not his solution, that's your solution. His solution is to keep his own private security detail. That is what's really going on in America and, again, that's called Rich Privilege.
You think I got lost and still want to know how Prince is a Prophet? That part of this missive is a very short story. Prince worshipped God, made his mark, then stepped away from the deadly sin of greed and walked his own path. Isn't that the goal of God-fearing peoples everywhere?
Just a reminder, Prince was really good at basketball.
*In the IBL, all players will kneel before every game.
There will be an insignia of Black Lives Matter on the court.
The IBL will not court overseas players.
Let's have some sample pretend standings from the first year of the IBL.
8 team league, each team plays each opponent 5 times.
Black Knights 33-2
Silver Streaks 28-7
Brown Sound 26-9
Black Death 16-19
Red Screaming Meanies 15-20
Green Machine 12-23
Blue Demons 10-25
Rainbow Warriors 1-34
As noted earlier, the Black Knights cruise to the initial IBL Title, but there is both drama and trouble. The team with the highest merchandising sales is the average Black Death Team. Their over-the-top dark uniforms with cool merchandising tie-ins net some players on the team more than they would have made had they stayed in the NBA. And, on top of that, the players share in the Black Death '21 Copyright, so they'll be making money on that for the rest of their lives.
The Rainbow Warriors actually folded with 4 games remaining. So just like in other start-up leagues, losing teams struggle just to survive. The fairly lame Black Knight uniforms are not a hit and Kyrie Irving has a decision to make: Play for pennies on the dollar and be your own boss beating up on average basketball players, or return to the NBA. It is going to be hard for Irving to find players who are willing to market the equivalent of the Washington Generals Brand.
The IBL will be a quick lesson in the Business of Basketball for athletes who are used to cashing checks, not writing checks.
It would be ironic if the Prince Estate approached Kyrie and the IBL about creating a Purple Reign tie-in team in 2022.