Dave Dresden, Gabriel & Dresden, Oakland, Calif.
Impact: “When Doves Cry” always got people moving, but there was “Erotic City,” “Little Red Corvette,” “Let’s Go Crazy” & “1999.”
Deep Cut: “Controversy” wasn’t a huge megahit, but it was funky & suited for the dancefloor.
Legacy: Prince was the total package. He understood songwriting, producing, playing, & arranging songs equally. He also never repeated himself.
Sean Cormac, Forward Disco, NYC
Moment: One of the most moving Prince music experiences I ever had was at Tunnel in the mid-’90s. It was when the club was transitioning to after-hours. The new DJ really broke everything down after a bit & people started to leave after a few minutes of real ambient tones & spaced-out textures. But out of nowhere came “Little Red Corvette” on the main floor—the place damn-near melted in sweat & sex. I’d say it was equal parts Prince & the loved-up masses of the ’90s.
Deep Cut: “One Man Jam” by 94 East feat. Prince—what an amazing piece of music! It’s a structured, experimental disco record, but it’s a psychedelic & electronic with live instrumentation.
Legacy: There’s rarely a situation that a Prince track can’t solve.
Paul Oakenfold, Perfecto, L.A.
Impact: I think the first one was “When Doves Cry.” The tempo wasn’t obvious & it was difficult to play in the clubs, but when you dropped it, the whole place went crazy.
The Experience: What I loved about Prince was listening to the album as a whole. That’s where the true journey began & ended. I never felt that he just put 13 songs together. I felt there was so much more thought into it. That’s why I would always buy his albums & not singles.
Legacy: What makes him unique is how he brings various different genres & sounds together—funk, rock, blues & pop can all be heard. The lyrical content is deep & meaningful—of course, the overall sound is very unique. Where we are today with music, it’s so throwaway & disposable, society is always onto the next thing. We, unfortunately, forget too soon about true great artists like Prince & it’s important to share their legacy with the next generation.
Herbert Holler, Freedom Party, NYC
Impact: “Kiss” or “I Wanna be Your Lover.” Both are fun, positive & accessible dance tracks. Bona fide classics—they’ll always connect.
Deep Cut: “Controversy.” I love how lo-fi it is—in an electronic sense. It feels like you’re standing next to an amplifier with a bad hum in a little basement studio, but then that chorus… it just becomes so uplifting, so beautiful.
Legacy: Authentic music, so different, so unique. It defines an era that a lot of us are afraid we won’t see/feel again.
Nick Haddad aka Captn20, Detroit
Impact: “Let’s Go Crazy” gives me chills every time. Also, “1999” made people go wild on a particular New Year’s Eve.
Deep Cut: I do remember playing “Insatiable” in my high-school years when I really wanted to get freaky with a girl.
Legacy: Prince answered it best when he said, “In the beginning, God made the sea, but on the 7th day he made me…”
Dimitri Craven, Zona, L.A.
Impact: “I Wanna Be Your Lover” because it was so funky & the lyrics so sexy. Also, “Controversy” because the lyrics spoke to me.
Deep Cut: “Lady Cab Driver” has a crazy, funky beat, like a marching-band beat that they play in the ’hood.
Legacy: It’s was music to dance to, rock out & make love to. It reached & touched all races & sexes.
DJ Pauly D, Rehab, Las Vegas
Impact: “Let’s Go Crazy”—such a fun tune, very relatable & that beat is so recognizable. Yup, everyone goes crazy.
Deep Cut: “’I Would Die 4 U”—I love to play this song, the production on it is so legendary.
Legacy: He challenged people with his authentic approach & he refused to compromise his vision.
Loczi, Rehab, Las Vegas
Impact: “Kiss” has the iconic intro guitar riff, but it also dictates the mood on a dancefloor. When the first drum hit drops, people’s faces change—eyes squint, lips pucker & the attitude shifts.
Deep Cut: “Controversy” has a great juxtaposition of elements—low-tone vocals, dirty bass & funky rhythm guitar, plus thought-provoking lyrics: “We’re all just the same.”
Legacy: A pioneer, a man of deep faith & an artist in the truest sense.
DJ Sojo, Senate DJs, Atlantic City, N.J.
Impact: “Kiss” is the weapon of choice—consistent beat & sex appeal.
Deep Cut: “I Would Die 4 U” for its energy & dynamics. From the double-time hats to power chords, every time I mix it, I get chills.
Legacy: His musicality & style will be studied for the rest of time.
Joe Bunn, Bunn DJ Co., Raleigh, N.C.
Impact: On “Kiss,” I would loop that intro as I mixed out of the previous song & then release it right when the fader hit the other side & Prince would hit that lyric, “You don’t have to be beautiful, to turn me on.” Love it.
Deep Cut: “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” a great tune that’s often overlooked.
Legacy: Funky music like that never dies.
D’Julz, Bass Culture, Paris, France
Impact: “Erotic City” is a very striped-down track, very hypnotic & sexy. Together with “Controversy,” these are Prince’s most housey tunes.
Deep Cut: “The Dance Electric,” a song Prince produced for André Cymone—that Linn Drum groove is no joke. “17 Days,” a favorite B-side track, works great on the floor.
Legacy: He was never afraid to mix genres, break musical frontiers & reinvent himself.
Kervyn Mark, The Real, NYC
Impact: “Let’s Go Crazy.” The opening sermon stops all in their tracks to take notice.
Deep Cut: “If You Feel Dancing” is Prince with 84 East. It is the beginning of him as recording artist & it’s a dope, underground dance track that just has that groove in the pocket.
Legacy: This music is inviting for all to experience & love. It speaks to all social, physical & sexual topics.
Carl Williams aka DJ Carl, NYC
Impact: “Kiss” because you can slam or beatmix it. With a mid-tempo BPM of 112, it can easily be mixed into other genres, too.
Deep Cut: “Controversy”—love the melody & message.
Legacy: A genius who created music that people from all walks of life could enjoy.