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April 29, 2013

Book Notes - Toure "I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon"

I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Toure once again proves himself one of our most astute cultural critics with his latest book, I Would Die 4 U. More than a biography or oral history, this is a compelling exploration of Prince's his influence on Generation X and rise to stardom.

Stream a Spotify playlist of these tunes. If you don't have Spotify yet, sign up for the free service.

In his own words, here is Toure's Book Notes music playlist for his book, I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon:

White America's love of Black popular culture has often been wrapped up in its electric attraction to Black sexuality. But rarely has Black sexuality been presented in such a raw, rough, wild, carnally dangerous form as it was in the body and persona of Prince. He gave a certain sexual freedom to his women by worshiping them and their sexuality. His sex narratives are rarely about being dominant; they don't posit Prince as a seductive Casanova, but women as aggressors who pursue him and are more sexual and promiscuous than him.

"Darling Nikki"

The song is a porno distilled into a song. Our sex god tells us he met a woman far wilder than he. She's masturbating in a magazine but she's not a whore who'll grab any man. She's a sexually voracious lover who picks up Prince because she sees something in him that indicates he might be ready for a new level of sexuality. From the moment she picks him up she's in control and and the song culminates at her castle where they have wild, passionate, mind-blowing sex. Prince is a sexual alpha who's unafraid to tell stories about women who flipped his wig. He's clearly comfortable with his sexual power.

"Little Red Corvette"

Another masterfully written pornish sex story song in which Prince has wild sex with an intimidatingly experienced woman. In this one, Prince is a sexual athlete whose competition is more sexually experienced women. He feels performance anxiety but pushes through it to have explosive intercourse.

"Raspberry Beret"

Another great pornish story song. Prince is a virgin who quickly and easily catches the attention of a girl who walks into a store where he's a lazy employee. This may be read as a metaphor for his sexuality because as a virgin, he's doing something close to nothin. They end up going to someplace that is classic porn milieu––down by old man Johnson's farm. Prince is obviously playing off of "Johnson," a slang term for penis, but there's so much more going on. The girl is riding a motorcycle (a phallic symbol) to a place owned by Mr. Johnson (synonym for a phallic symbol), and going to a barn (which can be read as a yonic symbol)––the song is a veritable parade of sexual entendres. Once again we get Prince regarding sex as a pressurized sports moment––he confesses that it's his first time but he keeps up with an experienced hottie, acting like an all-star MVP athlete even though he's a sexual rookie.

Toure and I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon links:

The author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book

Boston Globe review
Los Angeles Times review
New York Observer review
Paste review

HuffPost Live interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness
Life+Times interview with the author
The Nervous Breakdown interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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