May 17, 2021
Is Paperboy Prince from the future?
The mayoral candidate wants to spread love, establish universal basic income, abolish police, legalize drugs—and be taken seriously
A non-binary activist, rapper and artist in their late twenties, Paperboy Love Prince will be the youngest candidate to appear on the ballot at next month’s mayoral primary. They are also the most flamboyant and most likely to freestyle 20, 30 bars unprompted.
Prince, who lives in Bushwick (pronouns: they/them/God/Goddess), had not reached the fundraising threshold to qualify for last week’s primary debate, a threshold Prince decries as arbitrary and exclusionary. And although their top priority is to “spread love,” don’t dismiss Prince as pure theater.
“When people say, ‘Is this a performance?’ part of me sometimes takes offense to it, if I’m being honest … I’m like, ‘Yo my performance art is way better than this campaign’!” says Prince, who is this week’s guest on “Brooklyn Magazine: The Podcast.”
Prince’s platform embraces an anti-establishment ethos: They want to see $2,000 monthly universal-basic-income payments for every resident. Free healthcare. Reparations for the drug war. Reparations for slavery. To abolish the police and legalize drugs. More green space. An end to homelessness. Free WiFi. Plus they want to set up “Love Centers” where residents can get therapy, classes, hugs and more. And in order to get people to listen, Prince will put on a show.
“It’s hard to have these conversations if I’m not a playful character … [but] I’m getting people excited who have been left out of traditional politics for so long,” Prince says on the podcast. “The people that have helped us advance our society the most—that have come up with some of our favorite things in society, have made some of the largest strides and advancements—they seemed crazy. They seemed like a lunatic. They seemed like a wild person. It didn’t make sense. Until it did.”
There are fewer than six weeks until the New York City mayoral primary election, which will effectively decide who will become the next mayor. Still, the race is a tad chaotic: Polls started showing Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams in the lead earlier this month. Meanwhile, Scott Stringer, the city comptroller, continues to face questions over allegations of sexual misconduct. Andrew Yang has made a series of tone deaf appearances and faced questions over his ties to a wealthy lobbyist. Maya Wiley and Dianne Morales complain of not getting adequate airplay in the mainstream media. The New York Times endorsed former sanitation chief Kathryn Garcia.
For all their boisterous flamboyance, Prince is no political neophyte: They have held internships at the U.S. House of Representatives and the Supreme Court, and supported Andrew Yang in his presidential bid. Last year, Prince won 20 percent of the vote in the Seventh District congressional primary against incumbent Nydia Velazquez. It was a wide margin, but the showing was impressive enough for people to take notice.
The results were all the more remarkable, they say in our interview, in light of the fact that in 2016 some 200,000 New York City voters had been illegally wiped off the rolls and prevented from voting in the presidential primary, according to Eric Schneiderman, New York’s attorney general at the time. “The New York City Board of Elections didn’t even try to dispute the attorney general’s findings,” City and State reported after the fact. And in 2020, the year of Prince’s race against Velasquez, as many as 100,000 voters had received faulty absentee ballots in Brooklyn.
“This is why I rap and act crazy,” Prince says on the podcast. “How can I get people to see?”
On the podcast we also talk about their childhood, which they describe as “sheltered … which is why I have a lot of my childlike vibes and values.” Listen wherever you get your podcasts.
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Arts & Leisure
Arts & Leisure