Brooklyn rapper Paperboy Prince isn’t only the youngest candidate in the crowded mayoral race, but also the least conventional.
A non-binary 28-year-old, Prince fashions themselves a new face for the city. (Prince uses the pronouns they/them or god/goddess.) If Prince gets the required number of signatures to put them on the ballot for the June Democratic primary, the young artist will be in the running to become the youngest mayor in the city’s history, beating out 34-year-old John Purroy Mitchel, who took office in 1913.
Prince’s resumé includes a stint as a newspaper delivery worker — hence the name Paperboy — as well as experience as an artist, rapper, activist, street performer, web designer, fashion model, and entrepreneur. Prince has had some experience in politics, having worked as a County Committee representative, held internships at the US House of Representatives and Supreme Court, and run against Brooklyn Rep. Nydia Velazquez for the north Brooklyn congressional seat last summer. Prince lost the race against Velazquez, but the defeat left them undeterred in their quest to change the city, Prince said.
“Honestly, I had no plan to run for mayor until I realized how badly our city needed my vision,” they said. “What this city is missing the most is love.”
Prince says that love is the central ingredient trying together their platform, which includes universal basic income, healthcare for all, ending homelessness, and making the city more environmentally friendly.
“Our focus on love will help deal with the systematic causes of our problems,” said the mayoral hopeful. “If the government can separate us, it can bring us together.”
Prince’s idea of spreading love, however, is not just euphemistic. The young candidate hopes to spread love by building community spaces so that neighbors can spread love to one another.
“The first thing is to open Love Centers. I want one on every block to help people solve their problems, to connect people to others who can provide help. Or even just get a hug.”
Prince has not yet nailed down how they plan to accomplish their policy goals. They mentioned that cryptocurrency could somehow fund some of their proposals — such as their plan to cancel rent and mortgages for the next two years — but didn’t linger on the economic impact that such a plan could have.
Prince’s campaign is run by a 13-year-old along with a loose conglomeration of volunteers. I asked while sitting inside Prince’s “Love Gallery” — an art gallery, vintage clothing shop, and community gathering spot on Myrtle Avenue in Bushwick — if the spot doubled as their campaign headquarters. “No,” says Prince. “This is a Love Center. The internet is my campaign headquarters.”
One thing Prince hopes to change with their candidacy is New Yorkers’ apathy towards local politics. “Only six percent show up to vote,” they state. “Only six percent choosing our representation. It’s not only about speaking truth to power, it’s about getting people out and excited.”
Although Prince mentions that their family roots in Brooklyn go back “hundreds of years,” they are less specific about their own origins. “I’m from the future, ” Prince states, plainly. “I’ve always known that. I grew up all over the world … all over the universe. I’m 28, but I like to say that I’m 3,000 years old. I’m moving with the knowledge of the past.”
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a budget crisis in New York City, Prince says that New York City needs love more than ever before.
“We need change that’s focused on love and unity, and I’m the best person to make that a reality,” they said. “This is just the pre-show. We’re just getting started.”
This story first appeared on AMNY.