Back in 1996, Prince, having just resolved his contractual issues with Warner Bros. Records, released the triple-album Emancipation on EMI Records. The album was a musical celebration of his departure from Warner Bros., a reflection on the perfidy of the music industry overall, and a full demonstration of the undisputed genius of the Minneapolis native. I know it’s a rather unpopular opinion among Prince fans, but I maintain that Emancipation was Prince’s finest work overall–better than Sign O’ the Times, the widely acclaimed 1987 double-album that was itself reportedly a victim of creative interference by Warner Bros.

Shortly after the release of Emancipation, Prince declared, “I’m a free man, I’m a happy man, I’m a married man and I’m a clear man. All the tracks on this record are free, happy and clear. Making this record was uplifting for me.”

As I listened to Ed Schultz’s first podcast since leaving MSNBC last month, I was reminded of the Prince vs. Warner Bros. feud, and how happy Prince was upon leaving a record company that held him back creatively. Schultz had the same thrill, the same pleasure, the same joy in his voice that Prince had during interviews to promote Emancipation; it’s clear that Schultz has also been liberated.

There has been much speculation in the progressive press that Schultz was ousted from MSNBC because of his strong criticism of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Schultz has not disparaged MSNBC in any way; perhaps it’s best for both parties that he’s no longer with the network.

While I’ve praised Schultz for his strong stance on climate change, I don’t agree with him on everything; on that first post-MSNBC podcast, he claimed that Vice President Joseph Biden is “pimping” for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is a rather unsavory characterization, to say the least. Having said that, I agree with The Nation’s John Nichols, who noted on the last edition of MSNBC’s The Ed Show that Schultz “has been an essential part of the struggle of working Americans to have their voices heard, and if this show wasn’t around, I think some fundamental issues, like trade policy, would not have been explored as deeply as they need to be explored.” Nichols went on to note that Schultz was one of the first media figures to expose the anti-union radicalism of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Fill-in host Michael Eric Dyson noted that Schultz “has given his life and devoted commitment to the causes of working-class and middle-class people. That’s something that’s pretty extraordinary.”

I guess you can say that Schultz is a prince of a man. It’s nice to hear him speaking freely…finally.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.