Prince Releases Diss Track As Battle With Fans Gets Funky
11/9/07, 2:14 pm EST

As you may have read {
o-alienate-entire-fanbase-in-one-fell-swoop/], as part of their copyright
crusade, Prince's legal staff recently demanded that all images of the
Purple One be removed from specific fan Web pages. Several sites banded
together to form Prince Fans United, there was a brief pause in the action
and now . a diss track.

In response, Prince registered the Web domain name ""
and posted a seven-minute funk jam called "PFUnk," alerting fans to its
presence on fan site message boards. The song makes no secret of its target:
"The only reason you say my name is to get your fifteen seconds of fame,
nobody's even sure what you do," Prince sings. "I don't care what people may
say, I ain't gonna let it ruin my day." Toward the end, Prince tells his
fans, in his famed helium-like "Camille" voice, "I love all y'all, don't you
ever mess with me no more," before taking out all his anger on his guitar.
Prince goes as far as calling one person, likely a member of the PFU, "a big
fat punk," and threatens someone called "Weemolicious" by singing "Look here
Weemolicious, you and your boyfriend, lemme tell you somethin' right now,
you run up on me again with words or otherwise, I'mma knock both you punks
out." He also sings that he wants digital music to "disappear."

How did the fans, and the PFU, take to the diss track? With open arms and,
surprisingly, dropped jaws. As one poster on the board said,
echoing the general response, "It really is head and shoulders above
anything on [Planet Earth] or 3121." Another poster thought they discovered
an unearthed B-side from 1987, if not for the topical lyrics. Even the union
that gets the brunt of Prince's bile, the PFU, celebrated the track they
helped inspire.

Still, the question remains: Why did Prince's team target specific Web sites
and ask for photos of everything from Prince-inspired tattoos to album-cover
images to be removed? Could it be that the sites penalized were bootlegging
and file sharing concerts, or diverting traffic from Prince's official site, Avera denies both claims, saying there's no file sharing on the
boards, and that all the sites route traffic to when possible. The
sites in question claim they were singled out because they operate message
boards that are sometimes critical of the star. Prince does have a history
of unleashing his purple wrath on online boards: He terminated the NPG Music
Club's message board, an official paid service for diehard fans, shortly
after the release of 2001's Musicology. "I signed in one day, everything was
fine," Karen Avera, spokesperson for PFU and Housequake moderator, said.
"The next day I went and everything was gone. No warning." Avera speculates
negative reactions to the album on the board - which is similar to some f
the fan criticism Prince's Planet Earth received just a few months ago - was
to blame.

The fan sites say they have always cooperated with the Paisley Park lawyers
- that is, until now. When fan photos of Prince's London concert marathon
started surfacing on message boards, the lawyers asked that the photos be
removed and replaced with shots provided by Prince-hired photographers. The
fan sites gladly replaced the pictures. Now, however, the lawyers are
demanding those photos be taken down. To date, has not
removed the images, and since the site is based in Holland, Avera is unsure
of whether the cease-and-desist letters are within their jurisdiction.

When Rolling Stone talked to John Giocobbi, the Managing Director of
copyright protection agency Web Sheriff, regarding Prince's battle with
YouTube, Giocobbi said, "Prince has always been a very independently minded
artist and kind of bold and pioneering in a way. It goes back largely to the
kind of promise he had with Warner Bros., when he lost the right to use his
own name and then he became The Artist Formerly Known As. And once he
recovered his scars from that battle, he was a lot more savvy as a result of
that too. And he's a lot more kind of protective about his rights." When
asked whether the Web Sheriff is just going after illegal bootlegging of
Prince videos, Giocobbi admitted that, "In essence we're going after
everything, which is why it's kind of pioneering."

As far as Avera is concerned, those message boards are going nowhere. "Oh,
we're going to keep the message boards," Avera promises, "because the boards
go far beyond just talking about Prince's music. It's a connection where a
lot of people worldwide have come together to talk and make friendships."
Despite feeling unappreciated, and the threat of a looming lawsuit, Avera
swears that she, and the PFU, will remain Prince fans. "With everything
that's going on, we continue to listen to his music. We'll continue to buy
his music, because we appreciate his music." 
Daniel Kreps

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