(Some suggestions for next month's tribute from a concerned fan who really wants to see BET pull this off)
No yodeling from Trey Songz
How dare you disrespect the legend by letting Trey Songz vocally tap dance on “Purple Rain.” Please exclude him and other fellow yodelers Jussie Smollet, The Dream, and Chris Brown.
Put Miguel’s ass in a silo
Prince is notorious for his hip-breaking (too soon?) splits…and well…Miguel…for his neck-breaking splits. I have deliberated Miguel’s stance and potential to do a tribute to the Artist Formerly Known As The Artist and Now Currently Known As Prince. As an entertainer, Miguel is there. As a musician…eh. As a songwriter, YES! As a sly shady motherfucker…hmmm. But it takes a God-given talent to be an excellent entertainer, songwriter, guitar shredder and a master of shade. Who else can almost knock the shit out of James Brown fans and still look cool doing it? NO ONE. It’ll be another lifetime before we get another PRINCE NELSON ROGERS. …but we’ll settle for the next Lenny Kravitz.
Keep Alicia Keys in her vocal range
We all remember when Alicia Keys had the gumption to sing Prince’s “Adore” at the highest of heights from her shallow lungs. Sure, she did an admiral cover of “How Come U Don’t Call Me?” But this isn’t the same Alicia Keys of 2001. Maybe she’s been on vocal rest for the past four years. Yet, I still don’t trust her falsetto. Give her something simple to sing like, “Sometimes It Snows In April.” Place her ass behind the keyboard and tell her to keep still physically and vocally. There are only a few with the vocal dexterity of Prince, and Alicia isn’t one of them.
D’Angelo, Maxwell and/or Bilal are mandatory
Speaking of vocal dexterity you absolutely have to include at least one of these singers. If you don’t include D’Angelo, Maxwell and/or Bilal, I’ll reduce my cable package to just one channel. And that one channel would be TV One.
Michael Eugene Archer on the guitar is a must. A funky number like “Baby I’m A Star,” “It’s Gonna B A Beautiful Night,” “Controversy,” “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World,” “Alphabet St.” or his favorite “Movie Star” fits his musical narrative perfectly. Hell, let him do all six of these songs. Maxwell, of course, has to do a slow-burner. Songs like “Adore,” “Call My Name,” and “Do Me Baby” were written for his vocals. And Bilal. What other singer can capture the sadistic, quirky style of Prince? He would be perfect for “The Beautiful Ones” or “Darling Nikki.”
A duet from Erykah Badu and Andre 3000
Hear me out. Go listen to Erykah Badu’s “Hello” off of her latest. Tell me you can’t hear her and 3 Stacks singing “Diamonds and Pearls” together. Thank you!
Include the Wonderland squad
Everyone knows Janelle Monae’s musical aptitude and prolific performance capabilities as an entertainer. But it’s her entire movement that resonates and reflects the legacy of Prince. The many talented people Prince put on spans from Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to Tevin Campbell. Hell, even Janet Jackson owes Prince credit for the Minneapolis sound on Control and Rhythm Nation. Janelle Monae falls into the same category with her Wonderland crew, particularly Roman GianArthur. I had the pleasure of seeing him live twice. He embodies Prince in both style and musicianship, which is a rarity.
Include the OGs
I’ve listed all of the new schoolers, but we have to mention the old school. It is mandatory that you include Morris Day & The Time, Shelia E. and Wendy and Lisa. These artists worked with him during his prime and literally played an instrumental role in developing the Prince sound of the 80s. It’s blasphemous and disrespectful not to mention their contributions to the Minneapolis sound. Besides, I really want to see Jerome get Morris’ mirror one good time before he lives this earth. Stay strong Jerome…stay strong!
Who should sing Purple Rain?
This one is complicated. It’s a classic. It really shouldn’t be touched. Yet, it really isn’t a Prince tribute without “Purple Rain.” I mean, no one can really do this song any justice. Not even Patti LaYelle. No disrespect. (Shout out to PattiLaHelle for the reference.) Sure Fanatasia and Jennifer Hudson have the vocal fortitude to carry it. But will they overdo it? And what about the guitar solo? This is why I say choose either one of these singers. Let Lenny Kravitz start it. Add Fantasia or J Hud (not both) to sing the second part. Finally, let Lenny rip the guitar to shreds. It’s the only way our ears can survive a non-karaoke/karaoke version of “Purple Rain.”
I know this sounds more like a concert instead of a 20 to 30-minute tribute. And you’re right. This is how much of an impact the musical genius that is Prince has had. So, if the BET Awards starts to look more like a concert in honor of Prince, we wouldn’t mind…at all
(Also, here's another take on a dream tribute guest list that would have been much better than the tribute we shall never speak of again.)
Cypress Moss is what peak Negritude looks like. His favorite pastimes include moaning in the key of Aretha during Mufasa's assassination in the Lion King and wearing a white fedora in the southern heat. You can catch him writing at TheRawSuga.com when the Spirit moves him.