There are three arcs to D’Angelo. The first, is Brown Sugar when we slowly started creating that whole sub genre of “neo soul”. The second, is Voodoo which arrived four years later in 1999 and was hailed by critics and more. The third? The third deals with Black Messiah, and the 14-year odyssey it took to get here.

Wait, are you saying for certain that there’s a new D’Angelo album coming?

Yes, I’m saying exactly that.

Black Messiah is credited to D’Angelo and The Vanguard. Posters for the album have been spotted around Brooklyn. A few hard copies have been seen on Twitter. His manager, Kevin Liles confirmed a new album would be coming this year. He’s delivered his time and a peek in his psyche and creativity with the Red Bull Music Academy and Nelson George. There have been festival performances, rumors, hospitalizations, appreciation for being a recluse and being positioned next to Lauryn Hill as two members of the ’90s music class who shunned everything that the ’90s brought them.

Do I have any solid idea of what Black Messiah will even sound like? No one does. At this point we could be getting a blank CD-R and be granted the idea of holding a physical D’Angelo CD in our hands again. As a fan, your reaction could be jumping for joy, screaming hallelujah. It could also be pondering and tinkering with moments of skepticism. D’Angelo hasn’t released new material to test the waters like Prince did before the double whammy of Art Official Age & Plectrum Electrum. Like Hill, the creative spirit for D’Angelo on stage has been a mix of classic records from “Brown Sugar,” “Lady,” “How Does It Feel,” and others to cover songs of funked out psychedelia.

The same thing you fear about a new D’Angelo album is the same thing many people fear about a new record from anyone who has stayed away from making music for long periods of time. Fan demand is a fickle bitch, a prickly concept that will no doubt stifle whatever hype you may have for anything coming. I mean, we were just treated to shock releases from Beyonce & J.Cole in the past twelve months, skewering the whole “traditional” approach to releasing music. D’Angelo shows up with a physical, stamped copy, a few posters and the fanfare is ratcheted up again. If it’s terrible? Fans will back their guy up and ably say, “At least he’s not afraid to put music out again.”

Given what 2014 has given us in terms of comebacks (Andre 3000 gutting through 40 festival dates to give fans OutKast one last time being chief), why would you not see a return of D’Angelo as a cherry on top?


What Voodoo and Brown Sugar mean to a large swath of people is unquestioned. Some grew up with Brown Sugar and came of age when the ferocity and all out funk that roamed throughout Voodoo arose. D’Angelo is like Lauryn Hill in that they’re both phoenixes, two artists with whom you hold unquestioned loyalty to even if their last works are decades apart from the present. They belong to a moment, a section of memories where nothing could topple them. No amount of drugs or situations beyond their control. Black Messiah represents a welcome relief for those still tied into what D’Angelo could be, even if he sat at the precipice of being one of those greats decades ago.

The news of a new D’Angelo record only means eyes are going to shift to other artists of his ilk, say Maxwell who promised a sequel to BLACKsummersnight that has yet to surface. Or even Erykah Badu whose last record, 2010’s New Amerykah Part Two (Return Of The Ankh) ranks among her best. It’s unclear what to expect from D’Angelo simply because the last fourteen years have been a dizzying array of arrests, performances, seclusion and more.

Which brings us back to our original question.

Should you be excited for Black Messiah from D’Angelo?

In short, yes. But I wouldn’t immediately try going for a set of six-pack abs to recreate the “How Does It Feel” video in the process.