D’Angelo is back. It’s as simple as that. In fact I feel that this is almost all I need to write on the matter, but I can’t, because I have a duty to inform those who don’t know what it really means to say those words. We (the collective of diehard D’Angelo fans who have been dreaming about this for over a decade) know the story. The first album Brown Sugar, released in 1995, was a defining moment in the Neo-Soul movement, a time where we also saw the emergence of other great artists such as Maxwell, Erykah Badu, Raphael Saadiq and the incredible Lauryn Hill. The album went to achieve platinum status and bench marked D’Angelo as a force in the R&B scene.
Flash forward, 5 years later. Fans are eagerly awaiting a follow up to Brown Sugar and on January 25, 2000 Voodoo, was released. It debuted at #1 on the US Billboard 200 and R&B/Hip-Hop charts and has sold over 1.7 million copies worldwide to date. It won two Grammy Awards (Best R&B Album and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance) and it produced that “oh so famous” video. But it was more than just numbers and accolades, to music fans around the world that album was a triumph, a tribute to the great artists every musician worships and praises and hopes that there record will pay homage to. Voodoo was not only that kind of album, it was and still is one that sits on the shelves up there with Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Sly and The Family Stone’s Stand. This is not an album full of singles, it is a record meant to be listened to front to back, filled with excellent musicianship and vocal phrasing so unique it forces your brain to question your ears. Song’s like “Send It On” and “One Mo’ Gin” are rooted in classic soul while “Devil’s Pie” and “Chicken Grease” are so smooth and funky, never leaving the pocket because they don’t have to. And of course, “Untitled(How Does It Feel)”, the infamous single that still sends chills to me this day when it reaches the peak at the end. I could write a whole post about this album and the players on it alone but I’ll stop here, because I think you get the point.
And after a critically acclaimed world tour, D’Angelo disappeared from the spotlight. Suffering from trying to live up to the visual image of the “Untitled” video and succumbing to alcohol abuse, fans were forced to hope and quietly cheer on the troubled singer during his period of struggle. We were given little shimmers of him still being around, a collaboration with Common and J Dilla, tweets from ?’uestlove (drummer for The Roots and longtime friend and collaborator of D’Angelo’s) talking about being in the studio with him. And then one fine summer day in June 2012, GQ printed an article titled, The Return of D’Angelo, proclaiming “Amen! D’Angelo is back!”. The article, (found here), explained what had been happening in the singers life and where he is now, it also announced that he was heading to Europe to do a mini tour, his first in 12 years. Then we saw him perform at the SuperJam at Bonnaroo, hosted by none other than ?uestlove. Then there was his performance at the 2012 BET Awards, which was his first televised performance in more than a decade (also let it be noted that there were many blog worthy performance’s at this years awards). And then he played to a sold out crowd on July 4th at the House of Blues Sunset Strip in L.A., where he did over two hours of non stop singing. Rebecca Haithcoat of LA Weekly wrote in regards to what a decade will do to a singers voice, “The urge to text a doubtful friend was irresistible. ‘He’s still got it. Tearing it up’”. ‘Nuff said.
He is currently on tour as the opening act for soul Diva and living legend Mary J. Blige, a modest re-introduction to touring. They both come to the Bank Of America Pavilion on August 21st. Personally, I can hardly wait to see him and whatever he decides to bring to the stage. Oh and I get to see Mary J. bring it too. Find tickets for this sure to be legendary tour right here.