Die hard fans of Prince were outraged by last week’s announcement that his Paisley Park recording studio would host a ticketed listening party for Justin Timerlake’s new album, Man of the Woods.
Over the course of Prince’s career, Paisley Park became synonymous with the late singer’s work and style. It was a frequent stop for acts like Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Madonna, Celine Dion, R.E.M., Neil Young and Jeff Beck to name a few. Countless beloved recordings were made there, and artists often stopped by in preparation for a tour.
With all that in mind, it’s hard to be surprised that a Justin Timberlake listening party, sponsored by American Express, drove Prince’s fans up the wall. Timberlake and Prince had a contentious history between them. It began at an after party for the 2006 Emmys, where Prince made comments on Timberlake’s hit “Sexy Back” in a way that the NSYNC alumn perceived as a sleight.
“For whoever is claiming they are bringing sexy back,” Prince reportedly said, “Sexy never left!”
Not long afterward, Timberlake was set to present the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. Prince won the category, but was reportedly stuck in traffic. Timberlake mocked the singer for his height, lunging forward and pretending to hand the trophy to someone low to the ground.
On Twitter, reactions to Timberlake selling $80 tickets to Paisley Park were venomous.
“Who the f— is letting Timberlake do his album listening party at Paisley Park?” tweeted one user. “Prince would have never consigned this.”
“Justin Timberlake disrespected Prince with that weak diss track back in the day and now he’s allowed to perform inside Paisley Park?” wrote another. Disrespect all over again…SMH.”
“Justin Timberlake being able to set FOOT in Paisley Park is some f—ery that should NEVER f—ing happen,” wrote a particularly fired up fan of Prince. “And it wouldn’t were Prince still here… You f—ers is tacky.”
So Justin Timberlake dissed Prince in a song AND openly mocked his height, and the people running his Estate are gonna let him party at Paisley Park? 🙃 pic.twitter.com/vnLD1rZgth— Jackie Talks Nerdy ☔️ (@JackieTalkNerdy) January 13, 2018
Many close followers of Prince were particularly outraged that liquor would be available at Timberlake’s event. Prince famously detested alcohol, and banned it in Paisley Park for a long time.
“Justin Timberlake performing at Paisley Park for $80 a pop and selling liquor there during Super Bowl weekend is ridiculously disrespectful to Prince and his legacy,” someone wrote.
The Media: “Justin Timberlake To Host Album Listening Session – At Prince’s Paisley Park Home”
Prince in heaven: pic.twitter.com/dwTG599rQh— 𝚌𝚊𝚖𝚒𝚕𝚕𝚎🕊 (@dovesymbol) January 13, 2018
Many fans questioned why Timberlake even wanted to host his part at Paisley Park, considering his history with Prince. Later in 2006, Timberlake was featured in the song “Give It to Me” by his friend and producer, Timbaland. In it, he appeared to reference his issues with Prince again, singing, “If sexy never left, then why’s everybody on my sh–? Don’t hate on me just because you didn’t come up with it.”
Neither Timberlake, nor Paisley Park, nor American Express have responded to the vitriol.