Pop Music

What prominent black artist successfully integrated pop with other genres, especially in the 1980s?

In the 1980s, pop, rock, and R&B artist Prince (1958–) rose to prominence with a style that is difficult to categorize because of his eclectic mixtures of musical form, as well as his heavy use of synthesizers and drum machines. His most influential album is 1999 (1982), which was followed by his most commercially successful album, Purple Rain (1984). Tracks from these albums crossed over into white rock audiences. His Purple Rain made him one the biggest pop stars of the 1980s.

Born Prince Rogers Nelson in Minneapolis to parents who were both musical, he withdrew from family problems and settled into music. Prince signed a lucrative recording contract with Warner Brothers in 1977, while he was still a teenager, and had almost total control of the studio. He soon produced three albums that all went gold: Prince (1979), Dirty Mind (1980), and Controversy (1981). For a while he experienced some commercial flops and an ebb in popularity, yet by 2004 sales of his album Musicology brought critical acclaim. His innovative ways of promoting his concerts, such as including a CD with the purchase of a concert ticket, enabled him to gross millions. Prince changed his name several times—from Prince to The Artist Formerly Known as Prince (or simply The Artist), and then back to Prince.


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