UbuNtu ~ On Owning Your Masters

If you don’t own your masters, your masters own you.” On his B’Earth’Day [June 7th] in 1993, Prince changed his name to the unpronounceable Love Symbolof his recently released 14th studio album following disagreements with Warner Brothers [WB], the label which originally signed him in 1977. It was a public act of rebellion against WB’s restrictions over him and his prolific creativity. Likening their contractual relationship to one of indentured servitude or slavery, Prince explained:
“[WB] took the name, trademarked it, and used it as the main marketing tool to promote all of the music I wrote… The company owns the name Prince and all related music marketed under Prince. I became merely a pawn used to produce more money for [WB].” The first single from his 1992 album was ironically titled “My Name Is Prince.” After his decision to use the Love Symbol as his name while publicly sporting the word “SLAVE” on his cheek, to copy-editors and others unable to pronounce let alone write his new name he became the “Artist Formerly Known As…” The Artist reasoned existentially: “It is an unpronounceable symbol whose meaning has not been identified. It’s all about thinking in new ways, tuning in 2 a new free-quency.”

Since the late-19th-century beginnings of recorded sound, when black music was being captured by Germans from ‘their’ Afrikan colonies at the time, a frequency of thought was systematically being cultivated and promoted in the western knowledge industry where the focus was to establish comparative musicology (now ‘ethnomusicology’) as a viable ‘scientific’ discipline. On its own, European classical music was exclusively studied under ‘musicology,’ but under this new discipline of ‘other-ing’ could now be used comparatively to ‘scientifically prove’ the ‘inferiority’ of black sounds according to specious, culturally alien and self-serving Eurocentric criteria. This racist frequency of reasoning from noted scholars in the knowledge industry of the day lent academic authority for similar practices in the burgeoning white-owned music industry which – according to a conversation between a Columbia Records executive and Ahmet Ertegen of Atlantic Records – admittedly never paid its black artists royalties for their masters /songs. Unfamiliar with U.S. copyright laws, black artists back in the 1950s would sign contracts which knowingly cheated them out of ownership (hence royalties) by agreeing to a flat fee for their songs – labelled “race music” by industry Masters – which would then be covered by whites.

Famous for covering Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti’ and ‘Long Tall Sallyand Fats Domino’sAin’t That A Shame,’ Pat Boone unapologetically defended such deals which had launched his career, saying: “Here’s the bottom line: There were lots of R&B artists… (But) the only ones anybody knows today are the ones that were covered by the Beatles, by Elvis, by me and by many artists.” [5/29/15 PBS interview with Tavis Smiley]. The long list includes: Fred Parris who was paid $783 for his classic In the Still of the Night;’ Big Joe Turner’s Shake, Rattle & Rollcovered by Bill Haley; Etta James’ Roll With Me, Henry as Georgia Gibbs’ cover ‘Dance With Me, Henry;’ numerous covers by “British-invasion” artists such as the Beatles and Rolling Stones; and, among others, Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton’s Hound Dogcovered by Elvis Presley to become an all-time best-selling single, and simultaneously hold the #1 spot on the pop, country, and R&B charts for 11 weeks – a record that took 36 years to break!

Magnum Opus is a Latin term that refers to the greatest work of a writer, artist, or composer… a masterpiece of creativity which is so outstanding that its creator wins membership in an arts or crafts guild/academy. Such dreams were denied blacks by the record company’s routine purchase of their work at throwaway prices in order to catapult white cover artists such as Boone, Presley, the Beatles, Rolling Stones (et al) to their heights of fame and fortune. Granted, the industry landscape had shifted significantly by the time black artists in Prince’s generation were enabled to stand on the shoulders of those who’d struggled before in order for them to become rich, celebrated academy members who could freely pen opuses for other artists of their own choosing. So Prince’s complaint to Rolling Stone about the relationship he’d outgrown with WB – “When you stop a man from dreaming, he becomes a slave. That’s where I was.” – speaks to me on its own merits, but also of his deeper stated desire to tune in “2 a new free-quency,” one which rejects impositions by corporate parasites in favor of its own terms of existence and communal well-being. #UbuNtu.

Chaos and Disorder [1996] was the title of Prince’s 18th and final studio album with Warner Brothers [WB], which came out earlier in the same year he followed with the release of his 19th studio album on the New Power Generation [NPG] label. (In ancient Egypt, ‘chaos and disorder’ was caused by the frequency of bondage and despotic rule surrounding evil Set’s usurpation of King Ausar‘s throne.) Self-owned, NPG Records was founded to release Prince’s music after WB had shut down his Paisley Park Records in 1994. Prince countered the colonizing frequency of his WB-universe with the higher ‘free-quency’ he channeled through his ironically inarticulable new name. The stylized ankh he strategically used – an ancient ‘Love Symbol’ representing the Heavenly Order of the sacred “twin flame” relationship which resurrects the true God and King of Khemet and eventually overthrows Set – is triumphantly represented on the cover of his 19th studio album from NPG Records entitled Emancipation.’

When Prince states, “It’s all about thinking in new ways, tuning in 2 a new free-quency,” is this his prophetic nod to the New Age belief that humanity is currently ascending from a Piscean-era 3D consciousness controlled by an elite cabal to the higher 5D consciousness of the dawning Aquarian Age? Or is this the vision of an Afro-futurist who already occupies the non-linear space and time of his heritage, as the oral-aesthetic savviness [performative and symbolic] of his works suggest? Or both? In truth 3D vs. 5D are two competing dimensions which have generally distinguished elite Eurocentric [3D] from Afrocentric/Africa-centered ways of being. With slavery, colonialism & apartheid’s cruelest efforts to alienate black consciousness from its culturally-protected belonging and humanistic truth, our best cultural custodians upped their code-switching game, by necessity. HaNtuthe term describing the non-linear space and time free-quency and universe within which UbuNtu-consciousness creates and operates – cannot readily be grasped in the lower frequency linear constraints concocted by parasitic elites whose cultural practices objectify, arrest/infantilize, exploit and control human potential.

Ankh ~ UbuNtu

At the heart of Afrikan oral traditions which many have admired and often imitated outwardly, lie art-for-life’s-sake free-quencies and mysteries of higher spiritual dimensions and timelines which few have been able to understand inwardly, partly due to the sunken place into which racist systems of slavery, colonialism, & apartheid have placed humanity as a whole. The system’s elite beneficiaries continue to insist that ‘the conqueror is superior to the conquered’  through instruments of appropriation, manipulation, programming and mind-control that are often systemic to its pipeline industries. Though New Age theories suggest that humanity is awakening from the horrors of their mis-programmed 3D frequencies into the higher free-quencies of the Grand Arcanum [Secret of secrets], they’re generally silent in reference to pre-existing ways of knowing which were usurped through extraordinarily inhumane anti-Afrikan aggressions of slavery and colonialism. The ubiquitous art-for-life’s-sake [KuNtu] codes of Afrikan oral traditions [naming, drumming, costuming, dance, proverbs, etc.] nevertheless still exist to act as sources of revelation to adherents, initiates and True Seekers – symbolized by Ausar/Hunter & Auset/Gatherer.

Beloved as complementary co-creational Afrikan divinities who explain and necessitate each other, Ausar and Auset exemplify the original Divine Masculine and Feminine Hunter-Gatherer “twin flame” relationship whose paired mission is to triumph over life’s biggest obstacles and unite through their Truth which is pre-destined to inform the structure and harmonious workings of the universe. Their obstacles include Ausar‘s murder, mutilation and the scattering of his 14 pieces by Set [pedophilic god of the wilderness, chaos, disorder, violence, foreign oppressors…] in the latter’s bloody coup to capture Khemet’s throne and Majesty. Auset must then search Set’s allegorical wilderness [Afrikan diaspora], and then mummify and resurrect her husband from the 13 pieces she recovers of his remains. Ausar & Auset posthumously conceive a son, Heru, who fights Set for the throne so as to restore Khemet to its original Divine Order. Themes of ‘sacrifice,’ ‘resurrection,’ ‘virgin birth,’ ‘salvation’ and ‘reparations’ characterize and qualify Ausar, Auset & Heru as a Holy Trinity in every sense of the term, particularly as they represent the triumph of love over Set‘s love of ‘power.’ The Hieros Gamos [sacred marriage / “twin flame” bond] of Ausar~Auset is the quintessence of UbuNtu-consciousness, the guiding free-quency of the pan-Afrikan uni-verse which says “I am because we are.” 

Ancient proverbs from Khemet speak to all of the above: “If the master teaches what is error, the disciple’s submission is slavery. If he teaches truth, this submission is ennoblement …The key to all problems is the problem of consciousness…

Ankh ~ UbuNtu

…When the governing class isn’t chosen for quality it is chosen for material wealth: this always means decadence, the lowest stage a society can reach… The kingdom of Heaven is already within you; if you understand yourself you will find it… Men need images. Lacking them they invent idols. Better then to found the images on realities that lead the true seeker to the source.” [Luxor Temple proverbs]

To understand and stay true to oneself is to elevate one’s free-quency and find one’s Divinity… to enter the eternal Sacred Marriage [#UbuNtu]. Awakened, true seekers are owners of this Magnum Opus – the Song of Songs …Uni-Verse & Master-piece of Creation. Safe Heavenly Journey. Don’t get lost in the wilderness / forest. ❤ M

4 Comments on “UbuNtu ~ On Owning Your Masters

    • Asante sana, bro KP. I’m endlessly inspired by our culture – its brilliance, resilience, and the access its authentic custodians facilitate to our deeper communal narrative. Though Prince has always been second-to-none musically, I’m only recently discovering & appreciating stories layered in the conscious ‘free-quencies’ of his cultural artistry/activism that are exciting to me! ❤ M

  1. Prince – Press Conference-1998-08-08 Marbella (Plaza de Toros) @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhS6IL9Ojao

    [REPORTER @ 23:10] Sir… to young kids with aspirations of a career such as yours… going into the music business, what kind of advice would you give?
    A-F-K-A-‘PRINCE’: “It’s very important to keep ownership of your master recordings. In the studio there are “master” tapes and there are “slave” tapes. And I learned the hard way. I’m trying to regain ownership of my master recordings, because that’s where you make the most money. And money is a symbol of power down here. It’s not real power, but it’s a symbol of power. And we use the money to better our communities. And it’s best that the money that’s made from the recordings belong to the ‘master’ [as opposed to the ‘slave’]. I created the art, and I should reap the benefits… don’t you think?!?! Well, that’s not how record companies work…”

  2. Pingback: UbuNtu ~ Manifest Twinergy | Malaika Mutere

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: