D’Angelo releases first record in 14 years – Black Messiah

by Raheem Karim

D’Angelo has released a pop-up album, Black Messiah, his first record in 14 years.

Word is that D’Angelo will release Black Messiah tonight at midnight, his first album since 2000’s Voodoo and only the third of his twenty year career.
The singer and multi-instrumentalist first hit the charts twenty years ago with U Will Know as part of Black Men United with Brian McKnight, Usher, R. Kelly, Boyz II Men, Raphael Saadiq and Gerald Levert. D’Angelo wrote the music for the song while his brother, Luther Archer, wrote the lyrics.

The next year, D’Angelo released his debut album, Brown Sugar, which included three top ten R&B hits (Brown Sugar, Crusin’, Lady) followed by a four-and-a-half year sabbatical where he did some soundtrack recording and worked with other artists.

In 2000, he released the masterpiece Voodoo, debuting at number 1 on both the Top 200 and the R&B albums. A major world tour was followed by another, longer, sabbatical which ended in 2009 when it was announced that the singer’s third album would be called James River and would include heavy participation from Prince among many other R&B artists.

An album and tour announced for June 2010 but never materialized and further rumors spread over the ensuing years. D’Angelo did a series of shows in Europe in 2012 along with a surprise appearance at Bonnaroo and, in early 2014, it was revealed that he was back in the studio working on new material. Finally, on December 10, a YouTube video implied that the new album Black Messiah would be coming soon. That was confirmed on December 12 but a release date was not revealed until today.

Collaborator Q-Tip revealed the impending release on Twitter saying ‘@dangelo album out 2nite! Black Messiah!’. The release, set for midnight, was confirmed to Billboard by representatives of the artist.

At a listening party on Sunday afternoon, an information sheet was handed out with an introduction by D’Angelo:

Black Messiah is a hell of a name for an album. Many will think it’s about religion. Some will jump to the conclusion that I’m calling myself a Black Messiah. For me, the title is about all of us. It’s about the world. It’s about an idea we can all aspire to. We Should all aspire to be a Black Messiah.

It’s about people rising up in Ferguson and in Egypt and in Occupy Wall Street and in every place where a community has had enough and decides to make change happen. It’s not about praising one charismatic leader but celebrating thousands of them. Not every song on this album is politically charged (though many are), but calling this album Black Messiah creates a landscape where these songs can live to the fullest. Black Messiah is not one man. It’s a feeling that, collectively, we are all that leader.

Black Messiah track list

Ain’t That Easy
1000 Deaths
The Charade
Sugah Daddy
Really Love
Back in the Future (Part I)
Till It’s Done (Tutu)
Betray My Heart
The Door
Back in the Future (Part II)
Another Life

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