The Prince and I: How Prince Helped This School Founder Get His Start in Hip Hop

‘The experience of a lifetime’: David Ellis explains how Prince helped him find his footing in the music business.

David “T.C.” Ellis is known today as an educator and a school founder — he launched St. Paul’s High School for the Recording Arts in 1996. But back in the day, he was a rapper. Being friends with Prince since childhood, Ellis hounded the star to give him a chance as a rapper. Prince threatened to have a bodyguard break his legs if Ellis bothered him again 

“I said, ‘Just open up the door, I can get in myself,’” Ellis remembered.

Prince finally relented, and Ellis wrote and performed in “Graffiti Bridge,” the sequel to “Purple Rain.” 

“It was just the experience of a lifetime.”

Extra credit is a series where The 74’s video team shares interesting tidbits that didn’t make the final cut. Watch the full documentary about Ellis’s school, which uses hip hop to engage who have struggled in traditional schools: Hip Hop Is Saving Teen Lives in Minnesota 

Get stories like these delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for The 74 Newsletter

Republish This Article

We want our stories to be shared as widely as possible — for free.

Please view The 74's republishing terms.

On The 74 Today