July 26, 2016 12:29 PM EDT

Following Prince’s death in April, Mariah Carey paid tribute to her longtime friend by performing an emotional rendition of “One Sweet Day” during a show in Paris. Now, the 46-year-old singer is sharing what the late Purple One meant to her, explaining that he was her inspiration for resisting becoming a cog in the major record label machine.

“Prince was one of the best people I’ve met,” she told Complex during a recent interview for the magazine’s August/September cover story. “He didn’t care about the big system. I was always like, at any time Prince could write a No. 1 song, because he’s that talented, but he chooses to do what he wants. I respect that. He actually helped me through a lot of situations with his knowledge. He always had a plan.”

Carey went on to say that Prince’s passing came as a total shock to her. “I just can’t believe he’s gone,” she said. “I was hoping that it was a trick that he was pulling — that it didn’t really happen.”

Read more at Complex.com.

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Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com.

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