As everyone knows by now, Prince Rogers Nelson passed away this past April 21. He was 57.
When you consider that the guy wrote all his timeless songs, oftentimes playing all the instruments, and performed like no other during his nearly four-decade career, it’s not a stretch to say that Prince stands as our generation’s most accomplished pop artist. As all DJs know, he also unleashed some wicked dancefloor tunes.
In “Under the Cherry Moon,” Prince sang, “Maybe I’ll die young, like heroes die.” Sadly, he did, but we want to celebrate his music and artistry, so we asked DJs of all stripes for their musical memories with three simple questions:
- Which Prince song made the most impact on your dancefloor and why?
- Which deep Prince cut (preferably a non-megahit) did you like to play and why?
- What’s his legacy?
Here we go:
Claude VonStroke, dirtybird, San Francisco
Impact: “Erotic City” is the funkiest dance tune. It’s just got all the right sleaze in all the right places. If you don’t get down to that, then you don’t get down.
Deep Cut: “Darling Nikki” got me to blush in middle school. I never played it out, but I certainly listened to it a billion times—another super-sexy tune, but not a hit. At that time, it would never make radio—it was too sexually suggestive. But these days it could probably be on regular Billboard Top 40 with everything that’s out now.
Legacy: It’s the way the notes are played & his voice fits into the groove. Nobody can really copy it, even though they really want to—trust me, I’ve even tried to get a Prince groove going. Also, his songwriting genius is undeniable.
Carl Cox, Intec Digital, London
Impact: “I Wanna Be Your Lover” was a new brand of funk & it blew the dancefloor away.
Deep Cut: “Sexy MF” was, for me, pure Prince.
Legacy: He was ahead of his time.
Paul Dailey, DJ Times, Boston
Impact: In ’81, I bought my first belt-drive Technics & added Controversy to my record collection. The song entered my personal Top 10 & never left. Simple funk jam, with a bad-ass bassline, always rocks the house.
Deep Cut: “Lady Cab Driver” embodies everything that is Prince: killer synth line, futuristic drum patterns, roaring guitar solo, back-in-the-cut vocals & three minutes of sex in the back of a cab. Fave Prince song ever.
Legacy: Original & always true to himself.
Bruce Tantum, DJ/Writer, NYC
Impact: “Get Off” is just so damn funky & kinda dirty, which never hurts.
Deep Cut: “Sugar Walls” by Sheena Easton—just the weirdness of a good girl singing about her nether-regions is a plus. But it’s still a chugging, prime-time Prince tune. Also, Apollonia 6’s “Sex Shooter,” for similar reasons.
Legacy: In 100 years, we’ll be looking at him as our Bach or Beethoven.
DJ Dan, InStereo, L.A.
Impact: “Controversy” because dancing to it was like a therapy session.
Deep Cut: “Uptown” is special because it reminds me of having big dreams in the big city.
Legacy: He would make you hear music in a new way & put a funk on it that only he could achieve.
Garry Trio, Trio Productions, NYC
Impact: For 25 years, I’ve been playing “Kiss” during my funk sets at both mobile & club events. The beat, sound & Prince swag is what keeps people moving.
Best Moment: Back in ’99 on New Year’s Eve, when everyone thought the world was ending, Prince’s “1999” track got you into a feel-good mood.
Legacy: The music, the videos & style can never be replaced.
Tommy D Funk, DJ Times, NYC
Impact & Best Moment: “1999.” My first gig after moving to NYC was New Year’s Eve ’98/’99 & I’ll never forget playing an extended mix to a packed room as the ball dropped—fantastic.
Deep Cut: “Batdance”—just superb. It had every musical genre, which made it a great, underground dance record for me—funk, rock, hip-hop & a great 4/4 beat.
Legacy: A genius who didn’t believe in boundaries.
Travis Seibert, Madison Mobile DJ, Madison, Wis.
Best Moment: “Erotic City.” For the late-night crowd that was promiscuous. It would make them grind & show a side of their sexuality that only that song could uncover. It allowed people to feel like the dancefloor was the bedroom.
Deep Cut: “Pop Life” because of the beat—just a fun song.
Legacy: Masterful, because he found a way to take all elements of music & make them his own.
Rissa Garcia, Cielo, NYC
Impact: Always loved “I Wanna Be Your Lover” as a toward-the-end-of-the-night song. It’s all very sexy, which makes you feel sexy & when you feel sexy, you feel confident—those are moments you really let loose.
Deep Cut: “Get Off (Flutestramental)” is a forgotten gem—so funky & upbeat, always works the floor into a frenzy. It has the “strut factor.”
Legacy: He made original, forward-thinking music that’ll stand the test of time.
Joshua Carl, CrooklynClan.net, Boston
Impact: “1999,” hands down. People never stop being excited on that opening keyboard riff.
Deep Cut: “Darling Nikki” was the track as a kid I had to close my bedroom door to listen to—pretty sure it kick-started my puberty.
Legacy: Prince transcends age, race & so many other walls we have built in our society.
Crash, Crash Entertainment, L.A.
Impact: “Kiss” is the funkiest & most danceable, but “Erotic City” is No. 2.
Deep Cut: OK, it was a hit, but “Delirious.” Love that mind-altered vibe. It showed his genius & his quirky, funny side.
Legacy: Unique. You can hear Prince’s signature on each song.
Oscar P, Open Bar Music, San Diego
Impact: “Kiss” & “When Doves Cry” always packed the floor. Easy to see why they worked so well—they were love songs. They are also among the most sampled Prince songs of all time.
Deep Cuts: “Controversy”  & “Just as Long as We’re Together”  were Paradise Garage classics. Any serious vinyl collector had these original 12-inches sealed in their collection.
Legacy: He was a real songwriter.