Adilifu Nama | Rutgers University Press
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.