“Yeah, it’s my aquarium”: The two films that Prince was constantly watching

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Prince was a revolutionary. He was one of the most forward-thinking musicians out there, not just in the music he made but also in how he dressed, performed, and released music. He was a vessel for innovation, always coming up with exciting and original ideas, no matter how much he put out into the world. The unpredictability within his music solidified him as a legend with an eager fanbase up until the very end, which is also why his death was such sad news.

One of his biggest fans was Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, music encyclopaedia, neo-soul pioneer and drummer for The Roots. “Prince was in my ears, and he was in my head,” he said, remembering the musician shortly after his passing, “Starting then, I patterned everything in my life after Prince. I had older half-brothers, but Prince – unknown to me then, but not unseen or unheard, thanks to magazines, TV, radio, and my secret stash – was a guide to me in every way.”

Questlove didn’t just remain a fan of the musician, though. As his career progressed and he made a name for himself as a drummer, producer and musical pioneer in general, the two became friends. As a fan and a friend, the percussionist continues to tell stories about what made the musician so interesting, and one of his most recent is the environment Prince made for himself in order to feel at ease. 

When asked if he listens to music outside of work, Questlove answered with Prince trivia. “Here’s the deal. Since 1997, Soul Train has been my aquarium. That’s a Prince term.” Questlove went on to explain that Prince created a very specific environment within his home, which allowed him to continue to feel engaged with the creative act and peaceful at the same time. The cornerstone of this creative hub was two very specific films. 

“When he was alive, whenever you’d go to Prince’s house, two things were always on TV: [the 2003 animated film] Finding Nemo and Black Orpheus, this beautiful Brazilian film from 1959. He would have those on a constant loop: ‘Yeah, it’s my aquarium’,” he said.

Questlove revealed his equivalent while at 30 Rock is the confines of archives of Soul Train and Saturday Night Live dress rehearsals. He explained that this acts as a place where he can go to rest but also connect with parts of his job that he enjoys and remain somewhat engaged with creativity. “It only feels like a job when they give you notes,” he said.

The more we learn about Prince, the more convoluted his creative process seems to become; however, that is the beauty of his work. He was otherworldly when it came to both living his life and mastering the art that he was creating. As a result, we are left with the memory of who can only be described as one of the very best. His methods remain mysterious, but who are we to understand them in the first place?

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