The artist formerly known as Prince has a new wife, new baby and a new attitude

Lynn Normant

Emancipation is defined as freedom from restraint, control or the power of another, freedom from bondage.

For The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, emancipation is freedom, and much, much more. It is the title of his new, ambitious 36-song, three-compact disc set. Emancipation is also his personal creed and way of life as he celebrates his “freedom” from contractual obligations to Warner Brothers Records. He says emancipation also describes his new life as a husband and family man, his new persona since he left Prince behind. Emancipation describes his new attitude.

On Valentines Day 1996, the Artist, as he is referred to around Paisley Park Enterprises, married Puerto Rican Mayte Garcia during a church ceremony in Minneapolis, his hometown. He says in October she gave birth to a child, but he will not disclose the name, birth date, gender or any details about the baby. He refuses to discuss tabloid reports that the child was born with birth defects. “As you can see, my wife is no longer pregnant,” he says, gesturing to the beautiful, slim Mayte at his side. She is tastefully attired in a charcoal gray suit with short wrap skirt and knee-length boots. A huge diamond ring adorns her left hand. “l hope to have a bunch more kids running around here.”

Later, when interviewed by other national media, he made similar statements. For example, when Oprah Winfrey asked about the new baby, he said: “Our family exists. Its just the beginning.” When she followed with a question concerning tabloid reports of birth defects, the Artist said: “It’s all good. Never mind what you hear.”

As he personally takes EBONY on a tour of Paisley Park, he points out the colorful carpets and hand-painted walls, ceilings and borders. The curlicued male-female hieroglyph that is now his name is displayed throughout the 65,000-square-foot facility. In the atrium beneath a spectacular skylight is a marble floor with an inlay of the hieroglyph. There is a warm, cheerful ambiance, which is reflected in the host. He says he changed the high-tech, antiseptic tic white decor of Paisley Park to something “more colorful, more alive” to reflect his new life and new attitude.

There are four state-of-the-art recording studios, a nightclub, rehearsal hall and a huge sound stage, where he tapes videos and private performances. There are also a basketball court, dining room with a chef on call around-the-lock ( O(+> works through the night quite often). From the windows of office suite, he can keep an eve on the new playground. There are also several play areas inside the huge complex.

“As you can see, I’m not broke like some rumors have it,” O(+> says with a charming smile and sweeping gesture, referring to reports that his disputes with Warner. Brothers have rendered him financially. strapped. “I’m not bitter toward Warner Brothers,” he say’s of the company for which he has released 20 albums and sold more than 100 million records worldwide. “The journey I’ve gone through has made me stronger.” After settling into his office suite, Which is comfortably and tastefully decorated ("I basically live here"), he explains that his differences with the record company had nothing to do with money. (The $100-million, six-record deal he signed in 1992 reportedly, advanced him $10 million per recording.) Rather than money, his discontentment had a lot to do with creative control and ownership of his work.

In November, he legally became a “free” artist no longer encumbered by a record company contract. Consequently, says the Artist, his evolution from Prince, the bad-boy, soulful rock-and-roll, bump-and-grind entertainer to the emancipated artist and businessman whose name is an unpronounceable glyph and who is at peace with himself is complete.

“My evolution started when I got married,” he says, sitting comfortably in a chair, wearing yellow, slacks, a black jersey with “New Power Generation” in black letters, and yellow suede ankle boots. “When I look back at my life and as it is today” I would not be at this point or position if I had not made changes in my life. You know, people are fearful by nature... Things change. We all evolve into something. I want tons and tons of children running around this place,” he says, gesturing with slender hands, a simple gold band on his left ring finger. “Now I’m on the light path,” he says as he and Mayte snuggle affectionately. “It took all that I’ve been through to get on the right path. You gotta believe that things will change.”

Just when did things start changing for the 38-year-old entertainer?

“When I accepted God in my he says. “I’ve always been close to, God, but I took things for granted. This is it celebration of things that led up to this point. Real faith ill God got me to this point.” He also emphasizes that it was Mayte who helped to open his eyes and to advance his spiritual evolution and emancipation.

He says he met Mayte in 1990 in Europe. Then both tell how she was “dragged” to it Prince concert ill Barcelona, Spain, by her mother and sister. While watching the artist perform for the first time, she says she felt a “familiarity” with him. Two weeks later the Artist saw her in a crowed (with her mother) from the window of his car in Germany. “There’s my future wife,” he told Rosie Gaines, who was with him. A short time later he met the young woman he admired from afar. after his friend and associate producer Kirk Johnson gave him Mayte’s videotape. “On it was a photo of her as a belly dancer,” he recalls. “She was 16. I fell in love.”

Mayte joined his New Power Generation band as a dancer and singer, but the relationship started out as platonic. “Mayte has been my best friend for years and years; she is the, only person who showed me no malice,” he says, adding that it was as though he was engulfed by a universal knowledge or awareness. “That was when I realized that I was in love with her, with everything about her, in love with the process itself. Somebody discovered this thing [love]; whoever did was a genius. I fell on my knees and said `thank you’ [to God].

“At that point I decided that I did not really ever want to be him [Prince] again,” he explains. “The human body will trap you. It is egotistical, flawed. I did not want to go back. Mayte helped me to understand some things.”

One of those things is that while growing up in Minneapolis, his nickname friends never called him Prince. “Prince [Rogers Nelson] is on my birth certificate,” says the Artist. “My father wanted me to be a star, so he named me Prince. He was a musician. I’ve distance not feel right about the name Prince. Mayte never called me Prince. She just didn’t use it. Her soul knew.”

In 1978, Prince released his first recording, For You. As a singer musician songwriter, performer, actor dancer and fashion icon, the entertainer quickly established himself as one of the most creative and genuinely talented artist of his generation. He attained commercial and artistic heights with Dirty Mind (1980) 1999 (1982), Purple Rain (1984) and Sign O’ The Times (1987). His popularity crossed cultural add racial lines and encompassed fans of all music genres.

He was recognized for his wizardry on guitar, piano and keyboards and for playing all instruments on his recordings, as he did with Emancipation. Prince also was noted for sensuous lyrics and outrageous on stage. He was known as an eccentric artist who maintained an air of mystique and kept company with beautiful women.

In the late ’80s, the Artist asserts that Warner Brothers helped him to build Paisley Park studios. By 1990 he began to resent not being in total control of his career. In 1993 the Artist announced that he no longer should be called Prince, that the hieroglyph is now his name. In addition, the Artist often appeared in public with the word `slave’ scrawled across his face. His fans complained that recent recordings were not the caliber of music they had grown to love and expect. The artist also limited live performances, much to the frustration of his devotees.

However, all of that “chaos and disorder,” the title of his last Warner Brothers record released in July 1996, are now gone, and harmony and peace prevail in the Artist’s personal life as we as in his career. With the guidance of talented Black entertainment attorney Londell McMillan of New York, O(+> was able to negotiate his way out of the deal with Warner Brothers and into a position of strength and independence in the recording industry. “My personal goal was to wipe slave, off his face,” says McMillan.

The Artist no longer mill get $10 million advances, but he will have complete creative control and, most importantly he mill own the masters for his music. While he retains the publishing lights to all his songs, Warner Brothers owns the master tapes to the 20 albums preceding Emancipation. He cannot release “Purple Rain” or “Little Red Corvette” without consent from Warner Brothers. “I don’t own Princes music,” he says. “If you don’t own your masters, the master owns you.

For Emancipation, released on his NPG Records label, the Artist has a worldwide manufacturing and distribution arrangement with Capitol-EMI.”Capitol-EMI had the business vision and sensitivity to enter into a strategic alliance with the Artist,” says attorney Londell Millan, “which no doubt mill benefit both parties greatly.”

While many of this core fans strayed due to the quality recent recordings, many feel that Emancipation is comparable, if not better, than the music offered on his classic Purple Rain, which sold more than 10 million copies.

He is a profusely creative artist with a backlog of more than 1,000 unreleased songs, and new ones are constantly emerging. “If you hold a man down and tell him what he can or cannot do, he will rebel,” O(+> says. “If they rule the artist, is it really art?” As an example, he points to “Holy River,” a new song on the Emancipation CD. “The music tells me what to do. It is eight minutes long. I would never have been able to do that with Warner Brothers,” he adds. “We are a prisoner of our design. I started examining my life and my career, and you don’t want to feel that you got enslaved. When you stop a man from dreaming, he becomes a slave. I had slave on my face. Is that the end of the story?”

For The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, it is a new beginning. Nov. 19 1996, forever will be his Emancipation Day. “I didn’t just want to make another record and get more money and another award,” he says, pointing to numerous gold and platinum record awards displayed throughout Paisley Park.

The Artist repeatedly refers to the hip-hop group TLC, Jimmy Hendricks, Bob Marley and other artists whose works have been the subject of dispute with their record companies. “We as Black people can do the same thing that they do. We can buy and sell for our own people,” from having a big record company?

“I now just want everything out,” he says, explaining why after many years of being, a recluse and declining interviews he has made a complete about-face. “It is important for me to tell people how this project evolved. Emancipation. Even the recording came out of freedom; it is an example of freedom. There are some angry songs as well,” he concedes, “but we put closure to the angry songs.

“I want kids to learn about the business,” says the man who was a kid himself when he launched Ids career. “We must let people know that the business side is so rewarding. It is so rewarding to have no cutting, no editing, no guest stars if you don’t want them. You can just please yourself There is no But on the number of rewards you can release.”

When asked about the negativity in some music today, he shakes his head and says: “There’s no closure. There’s negativity and then it ends with a gunshot. But it is their experience. I’m a big supporter hip/hop, but not the negativity. When hip-hop artists simple my music, they must say something positive. Negativity is not in the spirit of emancipation.”

Over a dinner of “mock duck” prepared by his chef, the Artist says he stopped eating red meat nine years ago and recently stopped eating fish and chicken. “Have you ever tried mock duck?” he asks. “It is delicious. A good alternative to the real thing.”

When asked if he might do more acting, he shakes his head and says: “Actors portray other peoples lives. My life itself is pretty interesting.” However, he adds that he would love to portray the entertainer Little Richard.

After dinner, the Artist invites his guest to sit in on a rehearsal with his band. Studio A is personalized with scented candles, a pink neon depicting the hieroglyph, a huge control board draped in lacy fabric and personal photographs of him as a child and another of his father as a young man. In the control room, there are a half dozen guitars, including one fashioned like the hieroglyph. At the piano, with Mayte beside him, he sings the bluesy, soulful “There’s joy in Repetition,” the jazzy “Ballad of Dorothy Parker,” “Jam Of the Year” from the new album, and the Bill Withers tune “4ever In My Life,” which was requested by John F. Kennedy Jr. for his wedding.

“I work through the night all the time,” O(+> says, taking a momentary break. “Its hard to sleep when you can do this. I get pretty noisy, pretty rambunctious sometimes. Mayte makes me mellow.” He says at times the music comes so fast he has to stop in the midst of creating one song to write down another.

After the music quiets down, he reflects on his personal and professional journey, from party boy to family man, from performer to businessman and entrepreneur, from Prince to O(+>. “I had the knowledge and power all the time but did not know how to use it,” he says. “But then I saw it instantaneously. I wasted time out of fear and ego. Other things kept me in a negative space. I now feel at peace.