The son and grandson of Pentecostal preacher men, D’Angelo was raised up on church music. His first professional music contract was a publishing deal. And his first work of note was the anthem "U Will Know" - written for the movie Jason’s Lyric, sung by an all-star group under the moniker B.M.U. (Black Men United), and featuring Gerald Levert, Brian McKnight, Aaron Hall of Guy and Stokley of Mint Condition, among a sea of many more soul men.
However, once D’Angelo began recording his own music, he deftly integrated defiant slabs of hip hop attitude, collaborating with DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest on his debut "Brown Sugar," rappers Redman and Method Man on "Left and Right," and Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson - leader/drummer of The Roots - a heavy presence on D’s sophomore Voodoo sessions. Perhaps most potent of anything in his canon is "Devil’s Pie," a scathing yet swinging rundown on runaway hedonism - produced by DJ Premier of Gang Starr, introduced in the urban flick, Belly, and a worthy successor to the soundtrack classics of Curtis Mayfield.
Also of note were D’Angelo’s obvious homage to the sensual vocal layering of Marvin Gaye, the falsetto flights of Prince, and the bulls-eye of Al Green’s unfettered soul. Then there were his lyrical gifts, such as the sticky-icky/sexy-sexy double-entendres of "Brown Sugar" and the more literally lovely “Me and Those Dreamin’ Eyes of Mine.” His jazzy side first showed through on "Smooth" on which he kicked a piano solo alongside guitarist Mark Whitfield, then sprouted wings on later recordings and tours with trumpeter Roy Hargrove and guitarist Charlie Hunter. Though the openness of his tracks attracted the nouveau avant-garde’, when it came time for the mega hits, D’Angelo found the perfect partner in Raphael Saadiq, the former lead singer of Tony! Toni! Toné! who co-penned and co-produced his two biggest love songs: "Lady" and "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" - which both peaked at 2 on Billboard’s Top R&B Singles chart. D returned the favor as a guest on Saadiq’s ghetto fabulous "Be Here."
It wasn’t long after his meteoric ascendance to soul royalty status that D’Angelo was recording duets with two of the most conscious daughters in the game: Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill. To flex his affinity and affection for the soul gold of old, D’Angelo recorded plenty-plenty covers, including Smokey Robinson’s "Cruisin’," Prince’s "She’s Always in My Hair," and original Temptations member Eddie Kendricks’ revolutionary club classic "Girl, You Need a Change of Mind." Best of all was his take on Roberta Flack’s "Feel Like Makin’ Love" (so sexy it was prominently used in an episode of the “The ’L’ Word”) and "Heaven Must Be Like This," a serene masterpiece primarily penned by Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner of the Ohio Players that sweetly captured the crux of D’Angelo’s spiritual and sensual sides.
D’Angelo’s most memorable - and notorious - promotional stunt was his beefcake video turn for "Untitled." By the arrival of Voodoo, brother man definitely had his mojo workin’ - boasting a six-pack and musculature for miles. The camera lovingly and languorously panned his chocolate chiseled torso - stopping just short of his crotch. The most enamored of admirers were reported to have rushed their TV sets, peering directly down the screen, in vain, for…“more.”
Now all fans are fiendin’ for more of his music, which the man will begin delivering this year. D’Angelo spent the last few years tightening up his game. Now “Playa Playa 1” is back in the lab orchestrating both new music and his return. And when all the galactic elements align within their righteous celestial patterns, you can best believe Brother D’Angelo will be breakin’ us off with some wickedly twisted new alchemy.
- A. Scott Galloway
March 7, 2008
D’ANGELO’S TOP TRACKS & MUSIC VIDEOS COLLECTED FOR NEW VIRGIN/EMI RELEASE: ‘THE BEST SO FAR…’
To Be Released June 24, CD/DVD Includes Top Hits, Rare Tracks & 7 Previously Unreleased Music Videos from Hip-Hop/R&B/Soul Innovator; Digital Album, Video Downloads & Ringtunes Also Available
Hollywood, California – May 7, 2008 – D’Angelo’s top hits, music videos and collaborative tracks to date, including rare recordings for soundtracks and other compilations, have been gathered for the first time for The Best So Far…, a new career and label-spanning release that showcases his award-winning talents. Featuring 17 audio tracks and seven previously unreleased music videos, The Best So Far… will be released June 24 on CD/DVD by Virgin/EMI. A 15-track digital album and four video downloads will also debut June 24, as well as four ringtunes.
By the age of 18, D’Angelo was a three-time Amateur Night at the Apollo winner. He established himself as a spectacular new solo talent at the age of 21 with the 1995 release of his debut album, Brown Sugar, trailblazing new musical ground as an innovative songwriter and vocalist. With his sultry grooves and cool falsetto, evocative of artists such as Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Prince, D’Angelo carried classic soul’s torch into new territory.
Brown Sugar’s double platinum success was followed by extensive touring and recording for soundtracks and other releases, including a cover of Eddie Kendricks’ “Girl, You Need A Change Of Mind” for Get On The Bus, The Ohio Players’ “Heaven Must Be Like This” for Down In The Delta, and Prince’s “She’s Always In My Hair” for Scream 2; and a duet with Erykah Badu of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Your Precious Love” for Marvin Is 60: A Tribute Album.
By the time D’Angelo’s second album, Voodoo, debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums and Top R&B/Rap Albums charts in January 2000, he was fully established as a soul superstar. Produced and written by D’Angelo and recorded live with no overdubs, Voodoo won the year’s Grammy Award for Best R&B Album, and D’Angelo also won the Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for “Untitled (How Does It Feel).” The album features a who’s-who of collaborators, including trumpeter Roy Hargrove, Raphael Saadiq, Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, Lauryn Hill, Q-Tip, Method Man and Redman. D’Angelo’s cover of Roberta Flack's "Feel Like Makin' Love" is so sexy it was prominently used in a third season episode of the “The 'L' Word” and included on the show’s soundtrack release.
2000 was a banner year for D’Angelo, and he spent much of it touring across the U.S. and internationally to support Voodoo. Rolling Stone magazine named him “Soul Man of the Year” and, in his Village Voice review of a March 2000 concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, Robert Christgau (“The Dean of American Rock Critics”), hailed D’Angelo as “R&B Jesus” and christened himself a believer: “D'Angelo sang and danced and preached and flexed and crooned and humped the floor and covered Roberta Flack and snapped a mike stand in two and danced and sang and sang some more. Everything meshed; all stops were pulled out. It was already the greatest concert I'd seen in years when Redman and Method Man propelled the climactic ‘Left and Right’ through the vaulted ceiling. I flashed on P-Funk's ‘Sadie,’ Apollo 1981. What a privilege to experience such a thing again.”
All video content is provided by Youtube, and any questions, comments, or concerns regarding such content should be directed to Youtube