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SassyBlack is a Seattle-based artist, and one half of the soul-rap duo THEESatisfaction. Following the death of Prince Rogers Nelson, she explores the influence the icon had on her identity, her artistry and her celebratory Black Weirdo parties.

When I was 13, I thought we were all going to die. Everyone in the world, on the same day, at the same time. Somehow the streets would burst into flames, the world would collapse and we would simply not be here. Even with this mindset, I was comforted in the fact that we would all die while listening to Prince’s 1999.

I had moved to Seattle from Hawaii two years prior. While horrified at the idea that I had just turned 13 and already everything was over, subconsciously I felt everything would be alright because of the beautiful way 1999 sounded. It’s such an upbeat, promising song, so I couldn’t relate anything negative to it. Prince had put that apocalyptic idea to music, so in a way I felt prepared for the world’s demise.

A few years later I saw Prince live at the Key Arena in Seattle with my family. That night I knew I wanted to be a musician. It was confirmed in my mind. Prince had me hypnotised and tears streamed down my face as my family and I rocked out. At the end of the show I felt empty and full. Light and heavy. I was stuck. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to have my summer or talk to other people who hadn’t been there. I just wanted to bask in his magical energy forever. I wanted to soak up being in his physical presence for eternity.

"Prince had me hypnotised and tears streamed down my face... at the end of the show I felt empty and full"

Growing up in Hawaii I had plenty of music to listen to, but a few artists always stood out. Stevie Wonder, CHIC, Patrice Rushen, Kashif & Prince come to mind instantly. The soundtrack of my childhood fluctuated, but these stars were apart of the core score. I loved the Minneapolis sound. Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Morris Day & the Time, Cherrelle, Sheila E, etc. Their lyrics and presentation spoke to me deeply, sometimes it scared me.

The artists of that time were flamboyant with glossy lips, tight pants and feathered hair. I never questioned their sexuality. What was there to question? When feelings of masculinity and femininity were mixing inside of me, I knew there was a place for me to exist. Whenever the video for Kiss came on, I wanted to view it privately because of my strong attraction to Prince’s being. When the song Cream came out I simply refused to listen to it around others, while songs like Diamonds & Pearls would make me cry a few seconds in.

Watching my parents deal with the loss of him is difficult. My Dad is the one who educated me about the Minneapolis sound. He’s where I got – and still get – a lot of my music education from. So watching him and my mother during this time can be heartbreaking. Prince’s death also brings us closer together. We skip down memory lane thinking of our favorite Prince songs, and learn new things about one another.

"It feels simply wrong to say he is gone. And it is wrong. He lives in every one of us"

A lot of my creative peers have been inspired by Prince’s ability to connect with the world through music. His grace, talent and leadership paved a way for the next generations of musicians. Groups like J*Davey & KING, who were directly connected to Prince, have a strong sense of freedom in their creative sound and musicianship. While artists like Iman Omari, The Internet and myself (who were touched by his presence from a distance) are also able to amplify similar depths of expression.

When developing my Black Weirdo & Funky Congregation parties, I planned to create a sonic space where vast varieties of punky, funky weirdos and outsiders could convene and celebrate new and old sounds. Through these events I’m able to embrace the spirit of experimental creative entities (Prince, Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan, Parliament, etc.) while introducing newer artists with akin vibrations.

It’s difficult for many of us to process this. Prince was our lover, friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, sibling, mentor, everything. He is the one of the reasons I go by SassyBlack. It feels simply wrong to say he is gone. And it is wrong. He lives in every one of us. In our favorite music that exists and that is to come. He exists because when he left this world physically, his energies and spirits were spread out to us all. He encouraged us. He is of us and we are of him and it’s up to the creatives of our time to continue on his legacy of greatness.

SassyBlack’s new album No More Weak Dates is released 17 May