10 Thoughts I Had While Listening To D’Angelo and The Vanguard’s “Black Messiah” » VSB

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10 Thoughts I Had While Listening To D’Angelo and The Vanguard’s “Black Messiah”

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AFullSizeRender (4)t midnight last night, D’Angelo dropped his third (!!!) album entitled Black Messiah. This album came with very little fanfare. It seems like in this new Beyoncé world we live in, artists who can just drop an album then do all the promotion for it via the album itself. D’Angelo is one of those artists who despite releasing music less than frequently – the most understatement ass understatement of all time – still has a fanbase of people who have been waiting for Black Messiah. That…was a pun. Well, I’m one of those fans, though I’m more of a Brown Sugar fan than I am a Voodoo fan. Funny enough, Brown Sugar vs. Voodoo has been one of the longest running debates I’ve had with one of my oldest friends. We still debate which album is better. I don’t see this album changing that conversation.

Anyway, D’Angelo drops an album, and a SIGNIFICANT number of people get an album. So here are 10 thoughts I had while listening to this album. Some are subject to change on further listen. This is the internet, not the Bible.

For the record. I enjoy it so far.

1. I can honestly say I did not think we’d get another D’Angelo album before we got Detox. I really mean this. Keep in mind, Voodoo was released in 2000, nearly 15 years ago. I was in COLLEGE when both Dre and D’Angelo dropped their last projects. Their last projects (2001 for Dre) were released 2 months apart with 2001 in November of 1999 and Voodoo in January of 2000. We know Dre’s been working. The rumor is that nearly all of the tracks for Detox have shown up on marquee releases from Eminem, 50 Cent, the Game and even Kendrick Lamar, amongst others. D’Angelo has pretty much been silent for damn near the whole time save for an arrest here or there, a sighting, a brief tour, a one song release here and there, and teasers. Point is, get of your ass, Dre. If damn-near-recluse D’Angelo can put together an album and release it, you can too. Shit.

For a little perspective, the last time either of these guys released albums, I had one nephew who was 1 years old. Now I have 6 nieces and nephews and the oldest is trying to figure out where he wants to go to college.

2. This album actually makes me appreciate Prince more. Why is that? Glad you asked. Do you know how many studio albums Prince has released? 32. THIRTY FUCKING TWO. That doesn’t even include all of the singles he’s written for other people and albums he’s helmed for other artists. Prince never stops working. Shit, Prince released two albums THIS YEAR. Prince, who is also a recluse, manages to drop album after album. Yet, D’Angelo released an album 14 years after the last one that sounds like…

3.  ..songs he’s been holding onto since the last album. I’m a D’Angelo fan, so I can appreciate this music. But you cannot for the life of me convince me that it took him 14 years to make this album. Fifteen years, really, considering that Voodoo came out in January 2000 and its almost January 2015. Perhaps he’s a perfectionist. Perhaps he has just been going through some things (likely). Perhaps he’s been waiting for the right time and felt inspired now. Yo no se. Point is, a lot of this album sounds like the songs he wasn’t happy with from Voodoo. Not happy might be a strong term, but while Voodoo might not be my favorite of his albums, that shit was great, grand, and ambitious. “Untitled” was turned into a single, but that’s not a single. Even the closest thing to a radio single “Left & Right (featuring Redman and Method Man)” wasn’t really much of a single. It was dark, brooding, dense and sparse at the exact same time. When you began listening to Voodoo, you knew this was not Brown Sugar D’Angelo. This nigga evolved. This album isn’t nearly as ambitious. It sounds, to me, a lot like songs he worked on after he made “Chickengrease”, funk heavy, bass driven records. This is not a bad thing. It’s just a thing.

4. A lot of this album sounds like a jam session, not unlike how many famous jazz albums were recorded. Worldwide Underground sounded like a jam session too. That was not a good thing. On Black Messiah, it’s not a bad thing. It works actually.

5. Why do niggas keep letting Q-Tip work on their albums? Seriously. And I’m an ATCQ fan with my whole heart. Midnight Marauders is one of those albums that if I lost, I’d still go out and buy on CD…JUST so I could maintain a physical copy. That’s what it means to me in my history and growth. However, Q-Tip has become this deep nigga scion and I don’t get it. Is he a good producer? Yes. Rapper and writer? Not so much. But he wrote on this album which after listening to it begs the question, how was that even possible. And…for why Sway? Q-Tip was never the best lyricist and if any of you niggas try to tell me that any of that Kamaal The Abstract album was any good I will disavow all knowledge of your existence. I know how it was rated. I also know what I heard. Some of these cats are too deep for their own good. Mos Def…I’m sorry, Yasiin Bey, I’m looking at you.

6. From Shamira: “That closing track – “Another Life” – that’s leave it in music. With, like an ex you never resolved things with. All great and all bad at the same time.” True.

7. So far, the tracks I am really digging are “The Charade”, “Really Love” (allegedly the song that will serve as the official single), “Till It’s Done (Tutu)”, “Betray My Heart” and “Another Life”.

8. Interestingly, the track I don’t like the most is the one that teased the album all over the interwebs on Saturday/Sunday, “Sugah Daddy”.

9. D’Angelo is one of those artists whose legend has some how allowed him to drop albums that aren’t intended to sell any records that will actually sell records. He’s attained mythical artist status. In every year since D’Angelo has been “missing” I’ve read articles about D’Angelo’s music, had debates with people about his music, and talked about his influence like he actually gave a shit. He’s been gone so long that his influece is probably minimal at best, yet he’s talked about like he’s Stevie Wonder in some circles. That’s respect.

10. Black Messiah is an interesting name as well, no?


Black Messiah, available now.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • This has me all fired up to give the album a good listen….

    • panamajackson

      You should. It’s D’Angelo.

  • Adrienne

    Wasn’t Angie Stone writing D’Angelo’s music st one point?

    • panamajackson

      I know they were working together while they dated, so its possible they helped each other out.

    • miss t-lee

      I feel like she’s pretty much the reason we even know who he ever was.

      • panamajackson

        True. Then he came in an eclipsed the hell out of her star.

    • BeautifullyHuman

      I believe she did in the beginning and she helped craft his sexy image. According to her, he was a major dork when they were together. He had a super small fro (that she could barely braid) and thick coke bottle glasses.

      • Well he’s sensitive and introverted. Nothing wrong with that….

        • BeautifullyHuman

          Nothing at all. It just highlights how Angie further contributed to the D’angelo that women know and love. I’d also bet him being sensitive and introverted are primarily the reasons why we waited 15 years for an album.

          • Well the idea of D’Angelo. I’m not sure how high sensitivity and being introverted rank as far as attractive characteristics on black men.

      • I wonder what kind of music that (the “dorky” ) D’Angelo /Michael Archer would’ve put out.

        • BeautifullyHuman

          Probably the same stuff given he’s a talented multi-instrumentalist. But he might not have had the same success given part of it was due to his “look.”

    • She co-wrote half of “Brown Sugar” and a few songs on “Voodoo”- including “Send It On” and “Spanish Joint”, which she didn’t take credit for.

    • She let him shoot up the club too.

      • miss t-lee

        Yup. She pretty much took care of dude until he got on with Brown Sugar.

        • Didn’t she trade him in for Calvin Richardson right?

          • miss t-lee

            Hmmm. I wasn’t aware of that. Really?

            • One of my old co-workers was a few years behind Angie in school and she said Angie had hands.

              • miss t-lee

                I can believe it.

          • Here’s what happened with that. Angie was trying to get Calvin on at J Records (Which is why he appeared in the video for “Brotha”). Calvin didn’t want to go, because Clive Davis has been known to steer R&B artists towards the pop charts. He refused to take the deal and went to the Disney owned Hollywood Records. That decision is how and why Angie and Calvin fell out and haven’t spoken to each other since.

            If you remember, both of them recorded a song called “More Than Woman” on their respective albums. Even though Calvin wrote the song, Angie replaced him with Joe when the song was scheduled to be released as a single. Meanwhile, Calvin recorded his version and removed all of Angie’s vocals on his album.

            • Well then.

            • StillSuga

              I still play the Calvin/Angie version on the regular though….

            • miss t-lee

              Well dayum.

              • And here’s the story, as told by Calvin his own words:

                CALVIN RICHARDSON WAS NOT SET IN STONE: Soul singer takes Angie Stone to task for being shady.

                By Ricardo Hazel (January 7, 2004)

                North Carolina native Calvin Richardson is a gritty, gospel-minded urban contemporary /neo-soul vocalist. Born and raised in Monroe, NC (where he was the fifth of nine children), Richardson had a very musical upbringing. His first solo album, Country Boy, was released on Uptown/Universal in 1999; after that, he switched to Hollywood Records and recorded his second solo album, 2:35 PM, which came out in 2003. For many of our readers, Calvin Richardson is the chocolate protege of Angie Stone. But after sitting down and getting his side of the story we realize this viewpoint is a misnomer to be sure.

                RadioScope/EUR’s LaRita Shelby had the chance to talk with Richardson regarding his business and personal relations as far as Angie Stone are concerned. Of course, we had to ask if they were ever involved on a personal level. “Angie Stone was never in my life on a personal level,” said Richardson, correcting us. “We were doing business together. I know she ran around misrepresenting the situation, but there was never anything like that.”

                During radio conversations with disc jockeys and the like, Stone’s attitude toward Richardson has cooled considerably. She now speaks of him with a seemingly jaded tongue and has said Calvin Richardson abandoned previously agreed upon business ventures and the like. Here’s what Richardson had to say about that. “Angie Stone never made any sizable contribution to my career,” said the singer. “I had an album out before I even met Angie Stone. She heard “More Than A Woman” after I had already done the song. The original version is on my album. When I started working on my second album for Universal she heard it. After I left Universal, the producers that I was working with on that album, she was supposed to be working with … and they played that song for her. After she heard it, she tracked me down and asked if I wanted to do it and of course I did. At that time was shopping for a new deal.”

                That deal shopping eventually landed the North Carolinian at Hollywood Records where he released 2:35 PM. Prior to his signing, Richardson’s vocal stylings, and Angie Stone’s high praise of him, were the talk of the industry for a short while. But after a business arrangement that had Calvin signing with J Records via a company owned by Stone, things went horribly awry. “I went on tour with her, when she was touring with Maxwell, so that I could perform the song. Radio was hyped about that song and they really got a lot of requests for that song and were pushing for it to be the next single even after I had left the situation. She went and got Tyrese, but upon sitting in the studio and talking to Tyrese she realized that me and him were really good friends. It was re-released with Joe,” explained Richardson. And this story did indeed need to be explained.

                Said Calvin of the situation: “It was about Angie and whatever point she was trying to make. We were forming a company together and Clive Davis offered me a record deal, but it would have been through the company that (Angie) and I had formed. I have been in this business for 10 years and after I looked at it on the business side of things it didn’t make sense to me if I’m splitting with someone, especially if I could sign with someone direct. So I didn’t sign with Clive through that company, and for some reason she felt that I should have been loyal to her. Like I said though, I had record deals before and didn’t feel I should have had to split anything.” OK, we’ve heard his side of the story, and that’s all good. But we also know that Angie has a history of romancing young crooners, well at least one crooner for sure. When we asked Richardson if something else had gone down he responded: “Nothing, never, nothing. When she met me, it was a situation where I ran into somebody of the opposite sex who felt they were in a better position than I was and tried to use that position to get certain things outta you,” said Richardson. “I know women go through this all the time. I was straight trying to do business, and she was attracted to me in a whole ‘nutha way. She says it was business, but c’mon now”.

                “She wanted me to be a replacement for D’Angelo in the public eye. She would go on interviews and say ‘Yeah, we’re soulmates,’ and people would take it that way, but she put it out there for them to take it that way. As far as the music side of things, I respected what she did before I even met her. I’ll always respect her in that aspect because we’re both soul singers, but as far as an individual and as a person that I know and others do not, she’s just not what she represents.”

  • eqjones

    I need to listen to this in the car. A bit underwhelming upon first listen. But I always found Prince underwhelming until the 3 rd listen.

  • TipofTheRock

    Somebody FINALLY agreed with me that Q-Tip ain’t all that great of an MC. I preferred Phife more. Also, loved the “jam session” grittyness of the album, makes me feel as though I was in the studio with him, drugs & all.

    • panamajackson

      Anybody who tells you Q-Tip is a great MC isn’t to be trusted with major life decisions.

      • The Renaissance is still a great album though.

        • panamajackson

          It aint a bad album, but I’m not sure I’d call it great.

  • “4… A lot of this album sounds like a jam session, not unlike how many famous jazz albums were recorded. ”
    Absolutely. I’ve heard three tracks, and so far it sounds like him and a crew sitting kickin’ it. Not necessarily a bad thing.
    I’m picking ut up immediately.

    • panamajackson

      Yeah. It’s not a bad thing at all.

  • BeautifullyHuman

    Upon first listen, my main thought was that this album was a long jam session, too. Then, I thought, am I not getting it because it was being heralded last night as some masterpiece and I wasn’t exactly moved except for three songs maybe. I’m not exactly sure yet but I’ll definitely give it another go at work. It kinda reminds me of Voodoo. That album took years (like I just started liking it in the past year or so) for me to really enjoy like I initially did with Brown Sugar. I will say that “Really Love” and “Another Life” were my standouts with “Another Life” being food to my soul.

    Btw, what the h*ll does D be saying? This was my issue with Voodoo.

  • Folasade

    …So I woke up this morning with an email for Spotify saying that “Black Messiah’ by D’ Angelo was now available. I literally just saw a commerical YESTERDAY for the album and it said coming soon. I was beyond excited. Listened to it on my way into work and I’m still listening now. What I will say is that I do agree with Panama on the album sounding like track rejects from previous albums but these “track rejects” are better then really any garbage that’s currently on the radio. Having seen Lauryn Hill last month and hearing all the remixes of classic R&B jams of my youth, it’s really really refreshing to hear an old school artist make old school tracks. I can applaud Ms. Hill’s evolution but appreciate D’Angelo keeping it old school.

    • panamajackson

      I agree. It’s still good music. And I will still enjoy it.

  • I’ve listened to the album twice. The music sounds good, I just wish I could understand what D’Angelo is saying. It is hard for me to understand him.

    • BeautifullyHuman

      I just wrote this in my comment but it’s in moderation. What the h*ll does this ninja be saying? He definitely has that Janet and Toni Braxton thing going on where their words are indecipherable.

      • Right? I would Like the album more if I could understand the words.

        • panamajackson

          Part of its charm is trying to figure out what the f*ck he’s saying.

          • BeautifullyHuman

            But should this take 15 years, though? I’m going into a new decade in my life and I still can’t understand what he be singing about. Lol

            • panamajackson

              That’s an interesting question. I got chided on FB for not being an artist and therefore not understanding how it could take so long to release an album.

              To me, considering how much this album sounds like Voodoo, I find it hard to believe it took 15 years to make. I’m guessing it took that long to release.

              • Pretty sure the bulk of the delay was for rebuilding his emotional, physical, and mental health.

                • Mutsa

                  Hmmm..I went to a Saadiq gig about 9 years ago and he asked the audience to pray strongly for D’Angelo.

                  I’m so happy he’s still here and he’s brought this album with him.

                  • Folasade

                    pray strongly….smh and lol.

                • BeautifullyHuman

                  I agree. I just kinda hinted at this in my response to you down thread but I think depression played the biggest role in the 15 year hiatus.

              • Thriller

                Questlove said it was 97% finished in 2011 – damn near 4 years ago. I imagine this is how I’ll feel when Jay Elec drops his album. It would’ve been sitting for a number of years.

          • SororSalsa


            My favorite D’Angelo song is Spanish Joint and it took YEARS to understand what the f*ck he was mumbling about. If he started singing clearly, I don’t know if I’d like him anymore.

    • Mutsa

      I always find him hard to understand to be honest.

      It’s the melody’s that grab him and his vocals-I don’t even have to know what he’s saying because it sounds good.

      Kinda adds to the fun when you finally figure it out and have your ‘OH!’ moments

      • Thriller

        Same thing applies to Young Thug…..

    • D’Angelo still sings like he’s apologizing to his little sister

    • Agatha Guilluame

      “Not the mama!”

    • I used to post at Okayplayer a few years ago and the running joke around there about him and they used to refer to him as D’Mumblo, LMAO!!!

      • miss t-lee


  • How the fuck does out Val?! Years of your emotional terrorism and I remained a true D’Angelo fan and was rewarded for my loyalty!!!!! Love you Val. :)

    I want save my opinion on the album until I’ve had a chance to sit with it in a variety of company and positions and silence and moods. As is, I’ll day it’s apretty brilliant and seamless movement of the history of black music.he really is a genius. Can’t really explain how grateful I am for him to be back.

    • Mutsa

      As is, I’ll day it’s apretty brilliant and seamless movement of the history of black music.he really is a genius. Can’t really explain how grateful I am for him to be back.


  • Mutsa

    I’ve had ‘Really Love’ for over ten years somehow someway so I do think this is a jammin’ album but I don’t care.

    It hasn’t claimed me like Voodoo did but I know it will. I’m on my fourth listen

    • panamajackson

      Yeah, a few of these songs have been floating around for quite some time in various forms.

      • Mutsa

        Yea..it’s great to hear them mastered though

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