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Since You’ve Been Gone: A Year Without Prince

AP/Andres Kudacki, The Root
AP/Andres Kudacki, The Root

On April 21, 2016, the royal purple star who took the earthly name of Prince Rogers Nelson exploded into a supernova and ceased to exist on this plane.


We called him Prince.

Astrophysicists say that when a star dies, it creates a black hole whose gravitational pull is so strong, nothing—not even light—can escape it. Like the celestial bodies we call “stars,” when Prince imploded, it created an immense void that the universe has yet to fill. It seems like he was just with us yesterday, but so much has happened since then. The world has changed so much in the few months since we lost Prince.


Take Donald Trump, for instance. We remember Prince’s sensual love songs but forget that the Purple One used his music to address the social issues of our time, as he did in the anti-Cold War “Ronnie Talk to Russia” or the protest hymn “We March.” I still want to hear Prince wail against this new president, or at least see what his anti-Trump side eye would have looked and sounded like. Remember how he threw shade at Time Warner by painting “slave” on his face and serenading his record company on “Face Down” with?

Somebody once told him that he wouldn’t take Prince through the ringer
Let him go down as a washed up singer
Ain’t that a bitch?
Thinkin’ all along that he wanted 2 be rich
Never respected the root of all evil and he still don’t to this day
Bury him face down, let the motherfuckers kiss his ass, OK?

Just think of the incredible shade he could’ve thrown at the cantaloupe-faced comb-over in chief!

Plus, every time I hear someone mention the Weeknd’s struggling falsetto, all I can think is, “Prince would’ve made that motherfucker sound like Paris Hilton without the Auto-Tune.”


And what the hell is this Ed Sheeran bullshit? Y’all know Prince wouldn’t have approved of that!

No, seriously, what’s an Ed Sheeran? I’ve never heard his music, but I know he’s a big star. I’ve seen pictures, though, and I know he looks like a pasty, redheaded character from Middle Earth if Pixar made a version of The Hobbit. 


And although I like Bruno Mars’ music, it is time for all of us to admit that he is simply the discount-store version of Prince. Come on, I’m not being mean. That’s a compliment. I’m willing to wager that if the Dollar Tree sold music, you could interrupt the woman at the register as she was blowing up sad, aluminum foil balloons, and ask her if they had any Prince albums. I bet she’d tell you, “We don’t have Diamonds and Pearls, but we do have 24K Magic.”

Tim Clary/Getty Images
Tim Clary/Getty Images

Because Prince was a sports fan who loved basketball, he’d probably be sad to know his son blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. Stop playing; y’all know Steph Curry is Prince’s son, right? Don’t tell me that every time you see Curry cross someone over, it doesn’t remind you of Prince dancing. You must not miss him like I do, because I see him everywhere and in everything. Whenever Curry makes a 3-pointer, I picture him with a perm and whisper to myself, “He looks just like his daddy.”

So much has happened since Prince has gone, and we must continue to honor his legacy. I know I’m doing my part. I even sneaked into Rachel Dolezal’s house to make sure she didn’t have any Prince music because I didn’t want her using his name in vain. She didn’t. Just a bunch of Soulja Boy CDs. I also played a Lil Uzi Vert album really loud, hoping that Prince would hear it, feel sorry for us earthlings, or get really disgusted and say, “A’ight. Fuck it, I’ll come back.”


It didn’t work, although I’m not sure if my ploy failed because of the existential reality that death is irrevocable, or because I only played two-and-a-half songs. Hey, there’s only so much Lil Uzi a man can take. At least I tried.

Sometimes, late at night, I can still feel him. I could feel him dancing and smiling when he heard Kendrick Lamar’s Damn album, and I swear I felt him laugh when I tried to explain that Paris Jackson was Michael Jackson’s real daughter. I heard him say, “Man, I was just playing spades with Jesus last night, and they think he’s white, so you never know.”


I get sad sometimes, but then I remember that he’s probably hosting a cookout right now for Charlie Murphy, with Muhammad Ali, Tupac, Malcolm X, Langston Hughes, Ray Charles, Robin Harris, Beethoven and Nina Simone. They’re all probably cracking up laughing at Richard Pryor trying to teach Harriet Tubman the Electric Slide, while Nat Turner cooks on the grill and George Washington Carver fries fish (in peanut oil, of course). Then I turn on the endless hours of music that he left us and remember that—unlike most people whose feet ever touched the earth—Prince is immortal.

Astrophysicists say that a black hole is so dense, it can never be measured; but even though it signifies the end of a star’s life cycle, stars never really die because matter doesn’t disappear. It just transforms into something else. Although Prince’s absence feels at once like an inescapable void and an immeasurable dense heaviness, he did not leave us—it was just time for him to stop shining. It’s been 362 days and too many hours, and still, nothing compares 2 U. We are slowly adapting to the fact that this kingdom no longer has a Prince. You know how it is: The beautiful ones, you always seem to lose.


Game. Blouses.

World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of "it." Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive.

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Sloooooooooooooooooooowly adapting. It’s not an adaptation I was at all prepared to have to go through. Dammit.

Friday is going to suck.