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Prince: Inside the Music and the Masks Hardcover – October 25, 2011


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Prince: Inside the Music and the Masks + I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon + Prince: Chaos, Disorder, and Revolution
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312383002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312383008
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Did 10 years of researching the enigmatic Prince pay off? You bet.

For much of the 1980s, Prince was arguably the most important pop musician on the planet. He wasn't an originator, however, but a sponge who could take bits and pieces from different genres and manage to create something uniquely his own. The fact that he could sing well, play expertly on several instruments and wear the hell out of skin-tight leotards didn't hurt either. Considering his sales figures, influence and huge, albeit admittedly inconsistent discography, it's surprising that nobody has delivered a noteworthy Prince bio...until now. Veteran journalist Ro (Dr. Dre: The Biography, 2007, etc.) spent a decade researching this book—which shouldn't surprise Prince's fans, as the man is notoriously private—and it was worth it, as he was able to get vital information, opinions and anecdotes from Prince's close and not-so-close associates, everybody from sidemen to record-label execs. (Unsurprisingly, the man himself did not grant Ro access.) By utilizing verbatim dialogue, the book often reads like a novel; granted, some readers may doubt the veracity of every piece of dialogue, but it's enjoyable nonetheless. The author has an obvious affection for Prince's work, but he maintains enough objectivity to be credible.

An energetic, detailed balance of reportage and criticism about an icon of his era."—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

RONIN RO has written for USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, Vanity Fair, MTV, Rolling Stone, and Playboy. He has written eight books about the entertainment industry.


More About the Author

After penning a column for Dance Music Report magazine, Ronin Ro began a groundbreaking run in The Source. From here, Ro contributed to SPIN, Rolling Stone, VIBE, Rap Pages, XXL, Vanity Fair, Playboy, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, and more. To date, Ro has authored eight Books, including the classic Have Gun Will Travel, the definitive Jack Kirby bio Tales to Astonish, Raising Hell (containing original interviews with Run-D.M.C. and others), Dr. Dre: The Biography, the controversial novella Street Sweeper (whose hero, Jerome Usher, reputedly inspired a similar hero in the motion picture Man on Fire) and the upcoming Prince: Inside the Music and the Masks. Currently in New York City, known for epic, classically-structured works, the influential Author is currently at work on a nonfiction project--and a trilogy of action novels.

Customer Reviews

This book was entertaining and a quick read.
Bam-Bam
If you are curious about Prince because you like music than this book is well worth the read.
Paul D. Lemelle
Facts with no content that any biography should have.
Dejan Dukovski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Scott Woods on October 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is yet another largely non-exclusive look at Prince that doesn't stand out of the pack. Spending more time on the fat years of Prince and far too little time on the lean, this book reveals almost nothing that a fan of Prince - the most likely candidate to even pick up this book in this day and age - doesn't already know or have access to. There is virtually nothing distinguishing this book from the last five books about Prince that came out in the last ten years. Information is largely culled from the same sources as every other book, the anecdotes are largely old hat at this point, and there isn't the promised revelation of Prince's influence on much more than himself and his audience.

The biggest disappointment is that the opportunity to make a book that stood out is lost by committing the same crime that almost every other book about Prince makes: it acts like the last 15 years didn't happen. It spends 290 of its 356 pages of actual text on the albums leading up to 1996 (12 total, not counting soundtracks) and a practically scant 66 pages on the TEN albums that followed. It covers the early, more successful (and, not coincidental I am sure, thoroughly picked over) period of his career almost song by song, but then almost dismisses the last fifteen years of his career by comparison.

At this point I'd rather just read a book about all of the other acts Prince has launched, or a treatise that genuinely attempted to parse out his influence on culture and art during his tenure. if there's anything left to say about Prince, no one but Prince is likely to write the book compelling enough to warrant purchasing (and we all know how likely that is to happen). I'd say this is fine for people who are looking for an entry into Prince's world, but that's the same thing you can say about every other book about Prince.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Brandon Windsor on November 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Here's the deal, any Prince fan can give you a timeline with his music and singles up to and during his time with The Revolution, but this book digs a little deeper. In 'Prince' we see how this one-time untouchable rockstar loses his footing and is swallowed up by his own ego. I enjoyed reading about his time with The Revolution and his fear that they were getting bigger than he wanted them to be and how he refuses to relinquish creative control to anyone, including Wendy and Lisa even though he encouraged their input. We also get a look into his business, or lack there of. We learn how he destroys what could be a great avenue for music output, his record label Paisley Park, by not hiring the proper people to run it like a business. 'Prince' also gives us an in depth look into his war with Warner Bros, a record label that supported him until he wouldn't get out of his own way and how they finally gave him enough rope to hang himself.

'Prince' is a fun read that makes you ask, What happened to this guy? Why did he let his ego get the best of him? I really enjoyed Ronin Ro's look into a man that I've read a lot about but never really understood. I think Ro's book helps me do that.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By jafrank on February 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It's sort of cut and dry at times (and especially dry when it talks about Prince's 90's period) but Ro is obviously a serious researcher with a sincere interest in trying to at least give us some idea of who Prince Nelson is, and how he came to be that way. The first half of the book is definitely the best part, tracing Prince's beginnings as an immensely precocious, shy kid moving from one shaky domestic situation to another in Minneapolis. And then showing his remarkable, meteroic rise to the height of pop stardom and near unanimous critical and commercial respect in the 1980's. Prince's prolific-ness is literally unbelievable at times. In fact, most of his contractual issues in the 90's with Warner Brothers apparently stemmed more from his trying to put out too much damned music at once more than anything (would that all artists had such problems). The second half of the book seems more interested in tediously hashing out Prince's byzantine recording contracts than in telling us very much about the man's musical development in his post 80's phase. All in all though, Ro deserves major credit for writing a smart, serious book about Prince that comes down squarely in his corner yet manages to avoid cheap hagiography or tabloid sensationalism. I couldn't imagine a more difficult biographical subject
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Barbara L. Lemaster on January 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Ronin Ro is the opposite of Kitty Kelley or Andrew Morton in terms of writing biographies. This is an interesting, if somewhat stale, re-telling of the rise of Prince Rogers Nelson, a musical prodigy whose influence on the industry is felt today. It's not bad, but the book reads as though a lot of the research was simply cut and pasted from other sources. If you're a fan of Prince, read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul D. Lemelle on November 6, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
NOTE: This review is for the Kindle edition.

Prince has had an amazing career,his music will be a classic along side Jimi Hendrix & the Beatles. This biography does a great job covering the various albums and scene around Prince for the creation of them.

I consider myself a huge Prince fan (not a die hard that has everything Prince has produced), so much of the information was new to me. If you are curious about Prince because you like music than this book is well worth the read. To be honest, the last few years has not seen Prince produce a really great album - a real shame. So, it's worth the price alone to see how a musician at the height of his carrer can have a fight with his record company that cost him his superstar status.
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