It's always been easier to admire the idea of Prince than the music of Prince. Mastering every aspect of music — its making and its marketing — he proceeded, like Amundsen with polar exploration, to develop the tricks of tradecraft that would allow him to function as both expedition leader and captain of his very own vessel, beholden to no one, mastering the mechanics of the most routine and and the most intricate tasks.
It’s always been easy to admire the idea of Prince, because it’s always easy to admire self-sufficient prolificacy. But it’s not always easy to admire prolificacy’s product. At its top, Prince’s music is as good as any that’s ever been made. But beneath that are entire strata of mediocrity that will take scholars years to identify, unearth, and comprehend.