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I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  333 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Celebrated journalist, TV personality, and award-winning author Touré investigates one of the most enigmatic and fascinating figures in contemporary American culture: PRINCE

Drawing on new research and enlivened by Touré’s unique pop-cultural fluency, I Would Die 4 U relies on surprising and in-depth interviews with Prince’s band members, former girlfriends, musicologists,
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published March 19th 2013 by Atria Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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David Dacosta

There’s something very inauthentic about unauthorized autobiographies. Journalist turned author, Toure, compiles this lightweight ode to the Purple one largely through quoting several books, newspaper and magazine articles written about the artist by others. Deciding to dedicate a book on the subject of how Prince became a musical icon is a tad lame. Does it really matter? As Prince fans, we like him for his music; preferably his early catalogue in my case. How he became the famous figure he is
Initial reaction: That actually made for a more sluggish read than I expected. That had nothing to do with Prince or his life - what little bits there were in this narrative, I really appreciated hearing. My problems were with the overarching presentation of this "biography", which it really wasn't a biography as much as it was a perspective piece and how certain parts/dimensions of Prince's life had an impact on contemporary pop culture as well as the culture that grew up with his music. Which ...more
This fascinating little book is but a truffle of an appetizer of the treasure trove of analysis it could be, which is mostly frustrating but also kind of a refreshing conversation starter for those who feel like they've exhausted everything they could possibly discuss regarding the ubiquitous purple haze forever known as Prince.

Clocking in at under 180 pages, the author merely nicks the surface of this most prolific of veteran recording artists, though the points of entry chosen for this book di
Chris Hall
There's a lot of really great, interesting stuff in this book, but it felt like one that could have used a few more drafts. It starts by making an argument that I don't totally agree with, that Prince is the preeminent Generation X icon. The reason I disagree is simply that for post-1993, Prince basically fell off the radar screen, at least in my peer group (early Gen X, white, west coast.) Between changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol, his fights with Warner Brothers (when they wisely ...more
This book was disappointing. I'm a diehard Prince fan from way back, but even so I think Toure goes a little overboard on the analysis of Prince's songs and his place/role in American culture. I Would Die 4 U puts several of Prince's songs--"1999," "Let's Go Crazy," "Controversy," "Purple Rain"--under a microscope over and over again. The dissection of the lyrics and their meaning becomes repetitious and monotonous. The book is based on Toure's DuBois Lectures at Harvard, and that's kind of what ...more
When I visited my local library, to my delight and surprise, I came across this book in the new release section.

Being a Gen-X'er who was a rabid Prince fan as a teenager, I have to say that Toure did an awesome job with this analytical essay about Prince (the man, the maestro, the artist, and the public relations magician)..

Although it's not a "tell-all" bio, it does give you a closer look at the inner workings of "His Royal Badness..."

With more people coming out of the shadows to talk about Pri
This is an insightful critique of Prince and his career. While author Toure, does not succeed in framing Prince as an icon for Generation X he does show how Prince, his music, message and image fit the Gen X zeitgeist.

The argument is developed in three parts. The first, cleverly called “Prince’s Rosebud”, shows how the "Outliers" theory applies to Prince and Gen X. Prince was born at the tail end of the baby boomers which positioned him to have shared experiences with Gen X, but with the “older
Asa Wilder
A very bad book about my favorite person. Toure is trying to be some sort of hip cultural critic who does heavy thinking but is also in with the cool kids of today. and just nope.

Most frustratingly, the book contains brief kernels of really good ideas and plenty of false starts towards interesting analysis, but nothing is ever fleshed out or developed or thoroughly argued.

Prince is an "icon" for Gen-X because...divorce.

Prince is the most important religious artist in the history of American mus
I really enjoyed this. The book takes on the conflicting (and conflicted) reports of Prince’s life and tries to decipher just how (and why) he became, and remains, an icon for Generation X.

This wider, social approach to the biography was very appealing. There are a plethora of biographies out there about Prince, so to look at why society decided to embrace him as they did, is a clever move and Touré does it very well.

The book also takes on Prince’s seemingly odd juxtaposing of religion and sex i
Excellent reading for a Gen Xer. Toure weaves the narrative of Prince with that of Gen Xers growing up and coming of age during the time when Prince developed his iconic status.

This is also an important read for anyone involved in branding and identity. Prince in the beginning was an individual very aware of the power of brand/identity and narrative, and built his persona based off of his ability to read society. He could have very easily been the leader of a successful PR firm or thought leader
At 150 pages, Toure's Prince book is hardly an exhaustive or definitive biography, and in fact it isn't a cradle-to-grave biography at all; rather, it's a distillation of some lectures that Toure gave, arguing 1. that Prince's music is rooted in experiences with divorce and broken family; 2. that Prince is in many ways a product of porn culture; and that 3. his music is deeply religious, to the point of effectively being gospel music. All three points are compelling (and have the added benefit o ...more
La'Tonya Rease Miles
This is one of those books that make you feel like YOU, too, can write a book! From the cliched title to the weak thesis, this book could have been written for a senior assignment in college, i.e., choose one contemporary icon and explain how he or she reflects Generation X. For starters, no one is writing about Gen X, anymore, and secondly, who cares??? Apparently, Toure stopped caring about half-way through because he stopped discussing it. Prince deserves better.
As someone who enjoys some small portion of Prince's music but hadn't read much about him, this was a good opportunity to immerse myself for a few days. But I can really see why Prince fans find this book disappointing. For one thing, the insights it provides probably aren't that fresh if you've been absorbing his work for several decades. For another, the approach of presenting evidence by piling quotes from the lyrics to a half dozen songs in a single paragraph winds up being exhausting, rathe ...more
My love affair with Prince began the very moment Purple Rain danced across movie screens. I was 12 at the time, much too young to fully understand the underlying sexual message of the music. And perhaps that was the draw. Prince's music at the time was taboo. He presented as someone who was to be secretly enjoyed. You had to be open in order to see past Prince's posturing and facade to understand that really, all he ever wanted to say through his music is that it is okay. It is okay to believe i ...more
Besides some interesting personal notes and song details, Toure's Prince study comes across way too dry and like he's trying way too hard for some insight. For a long stretch at the beginning I felt like I was reading Freakonomics. I feel like this book was like a college student's unruly thesis. I'm bummed that I didn't like this more because I love Prince and I also met Toure' a couple of years ago and he seemed like a cool guy.
Emilia P
Prince is such a crazy butthead, man. And this book gave me just enough reason to know that and continue loving him for it. Part light bio, part a love letter from Toure to Prince and Generation X at the same time, it is roughly divided into a Prince+His Family, Prince + Sexytimes, and Prince + God section. Prince+Sexytime is probably the best and not just because that's his best mode ... it just is where the bulk of his bio gets told (uh, who doesn't want to hear about what kind of lover Prince ...more
Mike Walter
I've been a fan since Dirty Mind and read all the biographies so I didn't expect this book to teach me anything I didn't already know. And it didn't. In fact it didn't attempt to. This is more of an analysis of the man and his music which I quite enjoyed. At its best (and there were a number of moments like this) the book made me go back and relisten to a song to confirm one of Toure's theories. At its worst (and there were also a few moments like this) the author seemed bogged down in making a ...more
Not being 100% familiar with Prince's story, but loving his early music, I thought this would be a great book to read. And most of the information was excellent, but probably would be far too basic for someone familiar with Prince. However, I could have lived without the author's opinion that Prince was directly preaching an apocalyptic worldview in many of his songs. The sexual and religious metaphors in the songs are obvious, as are the illusions to cultural disasters, but I could have done wi ...more
Bit of a hard one to judge, this. Let's make it clear that this is not the book you should buy if you want an in-depth overview of Prince's career. Sure, there is some information sprinkled throughout the book, but it covers only a tiny fraction of what you'd expect.

This book is not a traditional biography. Instead it is a well-written analysis of what makes Prince tick, mainly how his relationships with his mother and father influenced him, and what his religious upbringing brings to the table.
Carmen Slaughter
Anyone look for a tell-all biography will be disappointed by this book. Anyone who is interested in an analysis of Prince's contributions to pop culture will enjoy this book. As an avid admirer of Prince - he is my favorite musical artist of all time - I was pleased with Toure's approach. I applaud Toure's examination because it goes beyond the traditional focus on the sexuality of Prince's music and focuses more on the spiritual aspects. The only issue I have is that the book is fairly short.(I ...more
In exactly 150 pages, Touré posed an enormous thesis: Prince is a cultural icon for Generation X. He did a solid job in explaining who, what why and where defines Generation X and perfectly positions Prince as an odd and but appropriate hero for the generation born roughly between 1961 and 1983. He divides his thesis into three parts: Rosebud (Prince's childhood), Porn Chic (Prince and sex, and the Messiah (Prince and religion). Pretty standard categories to discuss when looking at the work and ...more
Reading in Black & White
I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon by Touré could have been a pretty straight forward and short book by simply stating that Prince is a musical genius, wore daring fashions, and had a sensuality that attracted both sexes. But, Touré chose to complete a much deeper investigation into what was happening in society during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that made it possible for Prince to make such an impact. It states in the introduction,” The rain is the Zeitgeist. And the person who had ...more

By: Toure
Published by: Afria Books
Age Recommended: Adult
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: 5
Book Blog For: GMTA

"I Would Die 4 U" by Toure was not a biography of Prince's life but rather "the description of I Would Die 4 u that this is an investigation and based on research from people that were/are in Prince's life and some that were in his innermost circle." I will say that Prince has been one of my favorites forever and finding out that Toure's new book 'analyzes Prince's lyrics in ways "t
In centottanta pagine Touré si confronta con una parte limitata dell'opera di Prince, eppure la sua analisi, che scorre agile e competente, è probabilmente la più acuta e originale mai scritta sul musicista di Minneapolis. Touré contestualizza nella generazione X il terreno fertile per la nascita delle icone pop degli anni ottanta e, anche piacevolmente divagando dall'AIDS ai videoregistratori fino alla simbologia dell'avvento, tratteggia un quadro sociologico e culturale calzante in cui Prince ...more
I downloaded this book because I wanted to read another book by Toure. Toure is coming to Anguilla next week for the Anguilla Lit Fest. I read his book "Who's Afraid of Post Blackness" and wanted to see if had written anything recently, only to find that he has recently published a book about one of my all time favourite artist--PRINCE! I love love love Prince. So this book is all about why Prince was such an icon for my generation. Toure analyzes Prince's lyrics in ways that most have never act ...more
Craig Werner
Can't imagine a reader with any interest in Prince who'll learn anything from this book. Toure's a sharp commentator on pop culture, but he pretty much mailed this one in. Prince sings a lot about sex and spirituality. Yep. When Toure advances something resembling a thesis--that Prince is the icon of
Gen X--it made the obvious parts look good. The description of Gen X is filled with generalizations and cliches and Toure absolutely fails to say anything meaningful about how race factors into the
Erin Ashley
I really, really, really wanted to read this book and for the most part it's a really good book. I like the way Toure writes, however, in some of the book his writing is a bore and repetitive. He spent way to much time, in my opinion speaking about the baby boomer generation, as well as some of his references. I felt that the Michael Jackson "Thriller" era that was documented in the book wasn't necessary as this is a book on Prince and not Michael Jackson. Also, some of the wording is just odd t ...more
Paris Minton
Touré has written the ultimate book on Prince.
I received my copy for free through the Goodreads Firsts Reads Giveaway, and I have not been able to put this book down since it arrived.

Touré's analytical approach coupled with his unique sense of humor make this book a joy to read. I've been an avid Prince fan for nearly 20 years so I've read almost every book that has been read about him. This book has done a great job uncovering the mysteries behind the man and the possible motivations behind so
Not my favorite.

I've come to the realization that I simply do not enjoy the "research biography" genre. I'd rather have the ghost written or authorized interview style (auto)biography.

Though many celebrity "research" bios are frequently negative in tone, this one is very respectful. Maybe too much so.

It also feels rushed. An economical 150 pages...135 if you take out the too-long intro and too-short conclusion...the author runs through topics at break neck speed.

Because I am the tail end of Gen
I love fact filled discovery. This is full of it. Has a lot of insight into the profile of Gen X, their motives and expectation, which I appreciate since they are all around me. Also taught me a lot about the social movements that no one really talks about i.e. porn and transformation of meaning of sex between the 60s and 70s generations.

At times, it felt like maybe Toure just collected a bunch of article of interviews of other peoples study of Prince. And Questlove is quoted some much that ofte
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Prince fan 1 2 Jan 04, 2014 03:54PM  
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Touré Neblett is an American novelist, essayist, music journalist, cultural critic, and television personality.

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“Two lines in “If I Was Your Girlfriend” stand out after talking with people close to Prince. When he’s imagining himself as her girlfriend he sings, “Would u let me wash your hair?” And later as a man he says, “Would u let me give u a bath?” Those desires I’m told are part of his real life. Someone who was intimate with him and knows others who were, too, says Prince was not doing exactly as much screwing as he’d have you believe. I was told by someone who knows that Prince loves to bathe women. And brush their hair. And sometimes he did these things in lieu of intercourse. It was not part of trying to get laid or deepen the sexual experience, but as a worshipful appreciation of femininity. A person who was close to Prince said, “One girl told me that she got frustrated because he’d rather bathe her.” A woman who was in a relationship with Prince years ago told me that when he gave women baths he took total control. “He ran the bath, he put the bubbles in, he took your clothes off, he washed you, he washed your hair, it was a whole procedure and process. He put lotion on you after. He’d give you a robe. I don’t know if it was worshipful or if it was sweet and sensitive.” 3 likes
“A former-girlfriend told me, “He has great respect for women. And a blatant disrespect and disregard for women. Not when he’s speaking to you, but in his actions. They’re not genuine. He’s not honest. He’s not a good husband. He gets bored easily. He’s not monogamous. He’s very controlling. And he’s not that sweet to them.” 2 likes
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