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I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon Hardcover – March 19, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Original edition (March 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476705496
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476705491
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"I'm a Prince scholar and this is the ultimate Prince book." (Questlove)

Toure is one of my favorite writers and Prince is on the Mount Rushmore of modern music and this is the best book about Prince I've ever read. (Q-Tip)

“It took the singular talent and journalistic skills of Toure to capture the wild genius and larger than life influence of Prince.” (Jann Wenner, founder of Rolling Stone)

“For those who understand how singular an artist Prince is, this book -- every bit obsessive and revelatory as its subject -- will be a great pleasure. For everyone else, it¹s mandatory. It unfolds like a good mystery, as cryptic clues are deciphered one after another.” (Joe Levy, Editor, Billboard)

In terms of creativity, energy, influence, and sheer virtuosity, few musicians in my lifetime rival Prince -- and in Toure, he's met his perfect authorial match. As a fanboy of both, I was waiting excitedly for this book, but it's even better than I expected. In these illuminating pages, Toure reveals Prince as an artist and cultural force in full. (John Heilemann, coauthor of Game Change and Double Down (forthcoming))

"Based on his Du Bois Lectures at Harvard, Toure has written a thoughtful and compelling book that is both a full and sensitive explication of the genius of Prince's music, as well as his exemplary role as an seminal figure in contemporary American culture. It is must reading for any student of popular culture." (Henry Louis Gates, Jr.)

“A worthwhile addition to the relatively small number of decent books about Prince. It’s certainly bound to be a conversation (or possibly debate) starter for serious Prince fans.” (The Morton Report)

Praise for Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?:

“Touré demolishes the notion that there is only one way to be racially authentic . . . funny, hip and current.” –Gwen Ifill, The Washington Post

One of the most acutely observed accounts of what it is like to be young, black, and middle-class in America. Touré inventively draws on a range of evidence . . . for a performance carried through with unsparing honesty.” —Orlando Patterson, The New York Times Book Review

“[T]he ever provocative Touré boldly articulates the complicated issues of self and racial identity in the age of Obama.” —Vanity Fair

“A personal and scholarly dissection of race issues in modern America. . . . With the help of an array of writers, performers, comedians, artists and intellectuals, among others, the author attempts to reach a consensus on what is typical or otherwise for African-Americans, as well as what Black identity means in the modern era. Yet despite the chorus of voices, the most powerful voice belongs to Touré. While his collected anecdotal evidence provides a necessary framework, his personal experiences with race ring loudest of all. A likely bellwether for America's future struggles with race.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A welcome response to the ‘self-appointed identity cops’ who would arrest and banish those they consider insufficiently black. Perceptively analyze[s] a new sensibility in black art and culture to illustrate the complex and fluid racial identification Touré dubs ‘post-blackness.’” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Touré candidly tackles a burning issue confronting us today. Black America is undeniably a community ‘free, but not equal,’ and people from all walks of life are compelled to devise new approaches to confronting today’s structural inequalities. Here Touré explores insights from many perspectives to help guide the way.” —Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

This book is quintessential Touré: smart, funny, irreverent, and provocative as hell. Rejecting old school racial dogma and new school myths about post-raciality, he offers a powerful and original thesis on the status of Blackness in the 21st century. Through his sharp analysis and honest reflections, Touré challenges us to embrace a more mature, sophisticated, and ultimately liberating notion of racial identity. Any serious conversation on race and culture must begin with this book.”
—Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Columbia University Professor and host of “Our World With Black Enterprise”

Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness is a necessary book. To fulfill your potential as an individual or as a people, you need a clear sense of self. Touré has done the difficult but liberating work of moving the discussion of race beyond the Black Power-era thinking of the 1970's into the 21st Century.”
— Reggie Hudlin, filmmaker

“A fascinating conversation among some of America’s most brilliant and insightful Black thinkers candidly exploring Black identity in America today. Touré powerfully captures the pain and dissonance of Black Americans’ far too often unrequited love for our great nation.”
—Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP

Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness is a tour de force! I applaud Touré’s courage in standing up and telling it like it is. This special book will make you think, laugh, cry—and it will make you look at race and at yourself differently.”
—Amy DuBois Barnett, Editor-in-Chief, Ebony

“Touré has taken a question I have asked myself uncountable times over the course of my life and asked it of everyone: ‘What does it mean to be Black?’ The answers in this book are thought-provoking, uplifting, hilarious and sometimes sad. His sharp writing and self-effacing stories help digest some hard facts about how identity can be used for and against each of us – and why it matters so much to all of us.”
—Soledad O’Brien, CNN anchor and special correspondent

Praise for Touré:

"[An] apostle of the hip-hop aesthetic." —Darryl Pinckney, New York Review of Books

"Touré is one of our nation’s most astute and witty observes of the American scene. Not only is he one of the most gifted writers of his generation, but his sharp insight, poetic phrasing, and biting humor—and his brilliant command of so many aspects of pop culture—make his dazzling performance on page a sheer joy to read.” —Michael Eric Dyson, Georgetown University

"Touré is an exceptional journalist...He is—if you can imagine it—Oscar Wilde as a street thug.  This is the marvelous tone he's been able to achieve." —Tom Wolfe

"Touré has the sarcasm, intellect, and dogged nose for narrative that has made him his generation’s premiere chronicler of the chaos, ambition, and boundary-crossing that have accompanied African-American culture’s rude and ingenious takeover of American Pop, Inc.” —Greg Tate

"From 50 Cent to Dale Earnhardt, Jr., we sent Touré out on stories and he got it, whatever it was, every time. His work is like his subjects: stylish, vivid, and burning with energy.”—Jann Wenner, founder of Rolling Stone

About the Author

Touré is a cohost of MSNBC’s The Cycle and a columnist for Time.com. He is the author of four books, including Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?, a New York Times and Washington Post notable book, and I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon. He lives in Brooklyn.

Customer Reviews

Very informative and well written book!
Voltaire Zapanta
This book really does explain why we find Prince such a great icon for my generation.
It's very boring, drags on off topic, and just has no focus.
Chris Horton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Bex on March 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a Prince fan from wayyyy back in the day - I saw him on Midnight Special in his thigh-high boots and long coat and was just mesmerized. Have seen him three times in concert and love his music. I love learning about the man behind the music precisely because he IS so enigmatic. I read a snippet of this book in an online magazine and was intrigued and so I bought it.

Pretty much wish I hadn't because it was just a jumble of words and it felt like the author was working extra hard to make all the connections he wanted to prove out. Thing is, I agree with this premise - Prince IS an icon, no question. But this book felt like he was pulling way too many disparate pieces together and it really didn't add up.

The writing was, in a word, abominable. Just atrocious. Big words thrown in for the sake of having big words in there, whole pages that meandered way the hell off topic (even though I could see what he was trying to do, the execution of same failed big time) - I'm not an English teacher but this whole thing made me want to whip out the red pen and start editing. I found the poor writing took away from what focus Toure intended to bring.

What did I learn about Prince that I didn't know before? Not a lot, sadly. And perhaps that's because there's so few he allows in that what does show is all there is he will ALLOW to show. The part about his former lovers spilling the beans? Eww. (Does this make me old? Could be but it just made me feel all oogy. Like, I didn't want to really know that.) Some of it was gossip (albeit sourced gossip) and some was really pointless.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By mediaagent on March 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are a TRUE Prince Fan: Get it from the library. You are going to understand where I'm coming from. There are only two things that I read from this book are bits of "new" information: The section about his parents and when he was married to Mayte. That's it. Everything else I've read in magazines, online forums, and Prince.org. This long drawn out discussion on why we Generation X'ers were what we were and embraced Prince...it just fell flat. This book reads like a long drawn thesis paper. I understand it's Toure's view, but not very interesting from my point of view.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Dave Heaton on April 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A thoroughly disappointing book. His ideas about the music are nothing you haven't thought before, if you've ever listened to Prince's music at all. He spends most of the book drawing obvious conclusions from the lyrics, tracking tenuous potential connections to Prince's basic life story or making not especially interesting comments about how Prince relates to 'Generation X' and the current events of the times.

And when he actually talks about the music and lyrics themselves, the book is duller than dirt, which is all the more disappointing, since Prince's music is what I care about, why I wanted to read the book. He'll recount almost every lyric to a song without having anything new to say about them, for example.

Occasionally he does stumble on an entertaining anecdote from a former band member or an interesting observation from Questlove (I wish he'd written a Prince book instead). But more often he seems like he's listening to Prince on the most surface level possible (newsflashes - "Around the World in a Day" evokes "the hippies"! "Darling Nikki" is like porn! "Let's Go Crazy" is about God!).

Two other small notes on aspects of the book that I hate -- he hardly at all mentions some of my favorite Prince albums ("Diamonds and Pearls" gets zero mentions); he has a part where he lists Sonic Youth and Talking Heads as all-male bands, which is so obviously wrong any editor even just skimming the book should have caught it.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book wasn't horrible, but it wasn't all that good either. With a title like "Why Prince Became an Icon", I was expecting to read in-depth discussion about Prince's music and what made it rise to iconic levels. There is a little bit of that present, but not enough. Instead, the book spends way too much time analyzing "Gen X" (which is, Toure's generation, and supposedly the generation Prince has the most significance for). Overall, the book reads as a bunch of "he say/she say" and Toure's attempt to play psychologist and make academic discussion over rumors. Furthermore, it constantly quotes other works written about Prince, and even mythical stories that can be found on Prince throughout corners of the Internet. Some sections of the book are poorly written; the writing style comes across as amateur at parts. Plus, some of the writing, particulary parts that attempt to go in-depth with Prince's use of sexuality in his music and early performances, as well as unnecessary details from various lovers (hence the he say/she say aspects), are cringe-worthy in its awkwardness. Of course, a book about Prince is bound to address issues of sexuality, yet, I feel that Toure's handling of the subject is too tactless and uncomfortable to read.

Another issue I have is that Toure fails to mention key trademarks Prince utilizes. Analysis of Prince's symbol is nowhere to be found even though the symbol's meaning is far more significant than just being his name replacement for a period of time. Also, Toure fails to mention Prince's signature intentional misuse of words (e.g. using 'eye' instead of 'I'). Hence, Toure misses out on a chance to really look into Prince's iconic work "Purple Rain" through the varying lenses it can be viewed from.
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