What we learned during a seven-hour odyssey at Paisley Park:
— Prince is a mean pingpong player: A pingpong table is the centerpiece of the rehearsal space outside of the studio at Paisley Park, and it gets plenty of use. Prince shows he's a pretty deft player — he hits from wide angles and it's a wild sight, his white shoes with acrylic heels lighting up blue with every move. Alas, he loses his game by a few points.
— Prince goes to YouTube for music, too: Some Prince fans who want to go to YouTube to pull up their favorite track or performance have long complained that Prince is overly aggressive in removing that music on copyright infringement grounds. So they might be surprised that he uses it to look up music and old performances of others. When the point is underscored as he watches an old James Brown clip, he says: "James Brown has an estate — so do I," then adds: "People need to stop tripping."
— He's still a Jehovah's Witness: Introduced to the religion by musician Larry Graham, Prince made sure to note that he still follows the doctrine, but adds that he is a student of the world and notes that he's been spending time reading, particularly African history.
— Yes, he thought Michael Jackson was pretty awesome, too: Though the two were often pitted against each other in the media during the height of their respective careers, he has utmost respect for the late legend. During one conversation, he marvels at the brilliance of then 10-year-old Jackson's vocals on classics like "Who's Loving You" and "I Want You Back," and while watching an old James Brown clip, he notes that both he and Jackson were watching Brown as children: "Michael got the dance, I got the music."
— He is an unfailingly polite host: During our visit, he gets concerned about whether we've eaten and an assistant picks up a soup at Houlihan's. Once it arrives, it won't do to eat it with disposable plastic utensils; he takes us to the kitchen area (bigger than most New York City apartments) and hands us proper silverware, and then, afterward, throws away the mess.
— You have to wow Prince to musically impress him: While it's not without fun, it's serious business: "The level of expectation is incredibly high; it's always to play something perfectly and with a ... wicked feel," says 3RDEYEGIRL guitarist Donna Grantis.
— He's a fan of today's talent: While he dismisses some of today's music — don't expect a collaboration with artists Katy Perry and Iggy Azalea — that doesn't mean there aren't contemporary artists who wow him. He raved about Luke James' voice; was mesmerized by FKA Twigs; talked about the potential of Rita Ora (who recorded at Paisley Park).
— He likes candles: in almost every room, candles are burning.
— Prince is still cooler than you: He's the only person who can pull off wearing a shirt with his image — and look epic doing it.