*It’s been almost a month since Prince passed. And as I reflect on the bigger-than-life music career he had and how his music — much like the late superstar Michael Jackson’s (who died in ’09) — transcends race and generational gaps, I can’t resist wondering “What if?”
What if my two favorite singers — Michael and Prince — had recorded a song or two together? Both of them were so musically gifted beyond natural comprehension. Both had iconic voices and a super phenomenal stage presence. It’s like you had Michael Jackson and you had Prince in a class all by themselves. And then you had everybody else.
I was on the phone recently with my good friend and former radio show co-host Guy Brody of Atlanta (formerly of KQXL 106.5 FM in Baton Rouge, La.) and we were just going back and forth over what we thought a collaboration featuring Prince and Michael Jackson would sound like.
That conversation led me to reach out to two other renowned radio personalities — Gospel Traxx host Walt “Baby” Love in California and Dallas radio icon Cat Daddy of K-104 FM.
My conversations with each of these guys were quite interesting.
When I talked with Cat Daddy, I committed the cardinal sin of pointing out that R&B stars Gerald Levert, Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill all joined forces as “LSG” and produced a couple of hit songs, including “My Body” and “Door #1.” I said it would’ve been nice if Michael and Prince had done the same thing before their deaths.
“You’re talking about the King (of Pop) and the Prince is what you’re talking about, right?” Cat Daddy said. “I think that’s too much magic on one stage right there. (When) you’re talking about LSG and you talk about Tyrese and Tank — I would say we’re not even in the ballpark, but we’re not even playing the same sport.”
“Ideally, that would’ve made sense,” Cat Daddy said of a Michael and Prince project. “You have two outstanding individuals, two musical geniuses. ‘Hey, let’s put them together and let’s form a dream team.’ I don’t know, man. I know it would’ve been magic if they would’ve put something really exciting together.”
Michael and Prince, individually, were beyond dynamic, Cat Daddy pointed out.
“They were amazing by themselves,” he said. “Prince could blow you away with his talents. And Michael Jackson could do the same thing. So, you know, why didn’t they do something together?”
Again, that’s the thing that’s pretty puzzling. It seems like it would’ve been a given that the two would’ve put together a masterpiece that could’ve aired for weeks at the top of the charts. But why didn’t that Prince-Michael collaboration happen?
Brody shared a pretty interesting theory.
“I believe it never happened because of the way Mike approached Prince with ‘Bad,’ and that’s where it went south. He never approached him on a song, per se. He approached him on the video,” Brody said. “I don’t think Mike meant it with any kind of disrespect toward Prince, but Prince is Prince.
“Even when Mike did that, Prince was a superstar at that time. And if Prince had that role that Wesley Snipes played in that ‘Bad’ video, I think it just would’ve been kind of demeaning,” Brody said.
Brody reiterated that he didn’t think Michael’s request for Prince to play the part in the video (the album ‘Bad’ was released in 1987) that Snipes ended up playing was any shade thrown at Prince. There’s a part in the video where Snipes’ character tries to get physical with Michael and Michael puts him back in his place.
“Mike’s just not that kind of guy,” in terms of dissing anybody. “First of all, he named his son Prince. If he had a problem with Prince, he certainly wouldn’t have named him Prince.
“It was just the wrong song and kind of bad timing on Mike’s part,” Brody said. “Prince was looking at it as the role he was going to play. Prince can’t play a second-fiddle role.”
Prince, himself, at least told the world why he declined to do one project (the “Bad” video).
“That Wesley Snipes character, that would’ve been me,” said Prince, when he, at the time, was “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.” In that 1997 interview that comedian-actor Chris Rock did of “The Artist,” he said with a chuckle, “Now, you run that video back in your mind.
“The first line in that song is, ‘Yo’ butt is mine,” The Artist pointed out. “Now, I said, ‘Who’s going to sing that to whom? Because you sho ain’t singing it to me. And I sho ain’t singing it to you.’ So, right there, we got a problem.”
But in another scenario, one in which there would not have been the problem of figuring out who would’ve been the protagonist and who would’ve played the antagonist, one still can’t help but to wonder how awesome that duo should’ve, would’ve, could’ve been.
“What if? None of us really know. Only God knows, but I would imagine that it probably would’ve been something that would’ve crossed all socio-economic, racial and cultural barriers,” Walt “Baby” Love said. “That’s what I believe. I certainly believe it probably would’ve been a hit. Why? Because both of them were just talented people, and I would imagine that if they’d teamed up to do something — just imagine two great minds working together on a project of that magnitude. I think it would’ve been fantastic.”
On the morning of April 21, Prince, 57, was found dead in his suburban Minneapolis, Minn., home. His death is still under investigation. Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009 at age 50.
Conrad Murray, Michael’s private physician, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in his death. A court sentenced him to four years in jail for administering the fatal dose of the surgical anesthetic propofol that killed the king of pop. Murray was released after serving half that sentence. Michael had struggled with not being able to sleep.
Donald Lee, co-author of “Married to Commitment,” a Xulon Press-published book centering on building healthy relationships, is a Dallas-based free-lance journalist and ghost writer. He can be contacted at [email protected] or (225)773-2248. Follow him on Twitter at @donaldj_lee.