Star Tribune
Video (15:11) Aside from its continuing racial problems, "Minneapolis is a beautiful city," says the North Side-bred funk-rocker.

"Minneapolis is a beautiful city if you could just get rid of some of the institutional and structural racism," said Andre Cymone, best known as the bassist in Prince's first Warner Bros. band — and as Prince's childhood friend.

The soft-spoken Cymone has raised his voice in song, most recently with "World Is on Fire," released on Juneteenth.

"One of the last times Prince and I spoke," Cymone said in a recent interview, "we talked about maybe building a community center in North Minneapolis where we grew up."

In 2017, Cymone released the politically charged rock-funk album "1969," which featured the songs "Black Man in America" and "Black Lives Matter." He wanted to explain the Black experience.

"I have to remind people that Black people invented everything from the banjo to peanut butter to the lawn mower to air conditioning to heart surgery and rock 'n' roll, jazz, blues, funk.

"Society created this atmosphere — look at Hollywood, TV, police, incarceration, everything in this country. You get the idea that Black lives are an afterthought. I thought it was important to pay respect to a culture and say 'Black lives matter for a whole host of reasons.' "