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I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon
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I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon

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3.42  ·  Rating details ·  614 Ratings  ·  141 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,
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Hardcover, 176 pages
Published March 19th 2013 by Atria Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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David Dacosta
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was ok

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
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Christopher
Mar 21, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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Rose
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
Asa Wilder
Jun 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
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Chris Hall
Apr 03, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Dean
Jun 01, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Marva
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jack Wolfe
Feb 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Questlove says this is the ultimate Prince book... Is that because Questlove is quoted every other page? (Not that that's a problem. Guy is a music encyclopedia and he's got a lot of fun things to say.) "I Would Die 4 U" is not, NOT, a comprehensive look at the man. The concerns here are rarely musical, in fact (Toure pays lip service to Prince's incredible facility with instruments, but most of his analysis focuses on close-reads of lyrics), and the spotlight is primarily on just eight or ten y ...more
Thomas
May 15, 2016 rated it liked it
An informative book, just not written in a way that flowed well for my reading tastes.
Melissa
Jun 02, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Elaine
Jan 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Anino
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
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
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Louise
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
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Nada
This is definitely not a biography. This is a long essay on how and why Prince is an icon, divided in three section: 1- how divorce effected Gen X and Prince. 2- How Prince used sex persona to market his music. 3- How his music is religiously rooted. The author even claimed that Prince used the sex persona to reach to people (sex sells) and then after he got their attention; he sold them religion.

I Would Die 4 U isn't bad but it isn't great, either. However, it is a bit interesting but I felt li
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Reading in Black & White
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Maura
May 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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Paula
May 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Prince is an artist I enjoyed listening to as a teen growing up in the late 80s. At the time his hyper sexual image both fascinated and intimidated me. While I lost touch w/ Prince's music as an adult, I was profoundly saddened by his sudden death @ age 57.
I Would Die for U left me in awe of his great talent and vision. It gave me an appreciation for what his music meant to my generation. It provides context and depth to an icon who always seemed remote and lonely to me. I pray the afterlife is
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Kevin
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
Jenni Snider
May 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Meh. I think the author could have done better. There was a lot of theorizing about why Prince became popular in the 80's, some were believable others not so much. He seemed to want to hear himself talk about pop culture history more than about the actual person of Prince. Most of the information on Prince's life could have been found in Wikipedia. Kinda disappointed in this one. Should have known, since it was an "Unauthorized" biography.
La'Tonya Rease Miles
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
Sarah
Dec 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
1.5
Jara
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
With only 3 chapters, it reads like a thesis on Prince's cultural impact more than a biography. Great intro ("Prince's Rosebud") and conclusion ("I'm Your Messiah"), but the "meat" ("King of Porn Chic") is a little tough to digest. I highly recommend it to any Prince scholar.

"Imagine America as one house on a suburban lane. Years before he became a Jehovah's Witness, Prince knocked on America's door through his music. He came to the door holding a guitar and an umbrella while concealing a Bible.
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Bert
Mar 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: prince, music, bio
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.
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Paolo
May 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sarah Jackson
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Prince did not contribute to this book himself, but many people who knew and loved him did contribute their thoughts, insights, and memories. The first chapter defines Generation X and describes the zeitgeist of the 1980’s and how the combination contributed to his stardom. The author also provides a biographical sketch of his early life.
The next chapter focuses on Prince as an artist and the various bands he worked with. He didn’t want to be known only as a Black musician, but wanted to be free
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Byron
Nov 07, 2016 rated it liked it
This is easy enough to flip through one day when you don't have shit else better to do, but it's decidedly half-assed, and it's a wasted opportunity, now that Prince is no longer with us. Granted, Touré didn't have any way of knowing that Price would be dead not too long after this was released. Or did he? LOL

There's some trivia stuff in the first few chapters that's probably not news to any Prince fanatics, but I somehow managed to make it well into my 30s without reading any Prince books. Er,
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Elliot Ratzman
Dec 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Toure’s incisive assessment of Prince is also a commentary on generation X and revolves around a few big claims. First, that the defining phenomenon of GenX is the phenomenon of new, widespread divorce. Prince’s shattered home life is, of course, the defining theme of Purple Rain, but I think it’s a stretch to attribute drive and genius to this one factor. Second is the emergence of VHS tape and, Toure claims, the democratization of porn in the privacy of the home. He notes that Prince’s style i ...more
Eric
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Don't read this if you're looking for a biography. There's nothing new here in terms of biographical data on Prince. Instead, this book is more like a thesis of why prince was an icon for the generation who grew up in the 80s and 90s. The book is insightful, with clear themes and research. It presents a very clear view on the subject matter. It strikes me as a doctoral thesis for a musicologist or pop culture sociologist. I've read many Prince biographies - this book made me think more than most ...more
Rebecca Lovin
Jan 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I am not a rock and roll princess. In fact, I am a church geek. This book has some pretty awful reviews. I disagree. I think it presents a side of Prince not often discussed. As a fundamentalist, I am not sure I agree with Prince's methods, but the fact he was evangelizing his followers was fascinating. We are all here " to get through this thing called life." This was the way according to Prince.
Rita-Marie
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Touré Neblett is an American novelist, essayist, music journalist, cultural critic, and television personality.

More about Touré...
“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.” 4 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.” 3 likes
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