I Wonder U: How Prince Went beyond Race and Back (Paperback)
In 1993, Prince infamously changed his name to a unique, unpronounceable symbol. Yet this was only one of a long string of self-reinventions orchestrated by Prince as he refused to be typecast by the music industry’s limiting definitions of masculinity and femininity, of straightness and queerness, of authenticity and artifice, or of black music and white music.
Revealing how he continually subverted cultural expectations, I Wonder U examines the entirety of Prince’s diverse career as a singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer, record label mogul, movie star, and director. It shows how, by blending elements of R&B, rock, and new wave into an extremely videogenic package, Prince was able to overcome the color barrier that kept black artists off of MTV. Yet even at his greatest crossover success, he still worked hard to retain his credibility among black music fans. In this way, Adilifu Nama suggests, Prince was able to assert a distinctly black political sensibility while still being perceived as a unique musical genius whose appeal transcended racial boundaries.
About the Author
ADILIFU NAMA is a professor of African American Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He has written numerous books about the intersection between African American Studies and pop culture, including Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes (2011) and Race on the QT: Blackness and the Films of Quentin Tarantino (2015).
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