Vice: Is there anything, just a taste, that you’d be able to share?
Mobeen Azhar: Yeah—OK, I want to know how to put this diplomatically—let me put it like this: One big theme which comes across no matter whom you speak to, in terms of people who have dealt with Prince—everyone respects him hugely, but if I had to sum up their experience in one word, that word would be control. And he has constructed this world in which, thankfully for him at least, he is in control of everything. He is one of the freest artists, you could say, in the world. He has a record contract only when he wants one. And unlike everyone else who is trying to make it in the music business, he will have record contracts that have special terms on them, distribution deals, where he can decide what he delivers, he can decide what’s on the record—he has his own studio for god’s sake—it’s not like he’s hiring studio time or the record company’s paying for anything.
Something else that’s snappier and isn’t mentioned in the documentary is, without mentioning any names, I know on good authority that one thing that’s in the vault and unlikely to ever come out is a collaboration with Madonna that Prince has toyed with releasing and was going to release it at one point but he hasn’t. So that’s quite a big deal, and also there’s a collaboration with—do you know who Meshell Ndegeocello is?
—Vice Editor James Yeh speaking with journalist and Prince fanatic Mobeen Azhar, about his new BBC radio documentary, Hunting for Prince’s Vault.