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