Prince and Rick James were contemporaries whose long seated rivalry pushed musical boundaries and defined the sound of the post-disco era. In his book, Confessions of Rick James, Memoirs of a Super Freak, James details how he “always thought of Prince as a great player and a very innovative person but as far as himself as a person, he could use a good ghetto ass kicking.” Prince, whose success and attention-grabbing antics annoyed James, went on to have a career robust with artistic feuds. It’s that same fight that’s allowed Prince to remain independent and relevant his entire career.
“Purple Hippies and Michael Maniacs are still in a dance floor dispute. They battle at “Michael vs. Prince” parties, trying to settle a score in an argument that endured since the mid ‘80s. In fact, Michal Jackson and Prince themselves came close to an actual face off in 1987. The taunting title track of Bad, Jackson’s anticipated follow-up to Thriller, was designed by visionary producer Quincy Jones as a duet for Jackson and Prince. He arranged for the two to meet but it didn’t amount to anything past expressing mutual respect. And so fans were forever left to provide their own take on “Who’s Bad?” The feud remained vivid even in the mindset of mass audiences as comedian Chris Rock addressed it in his 2004 Never Scared show.”