D’Angelo has a new album, his first one in 14 years, Black Messiah, and it is available at midnight tonight. Just like Beyonce did, when she released her self-titled album via the Internet, D’Angelo has marketed his new album directly to his fans with this surprising move. If Black Messiah has anywhere near the success that Beyonce’s album had, D’Angelo’s marketing method could prove to be quite a lucrative one for him.
The Grammy-award winning musical artist, D’Angelo, invited a few journalists and celebrities to a listening party so that they could get the chance to hear his third album in advance of its digital release at midnight, when it will be available to all of his fans on iTunes. Questlove and Spike Lee were among the celebrities there. Questlove, frontman and drummer for the Tonight Show‘s house band, The Roots, collaborated on three of the 12 songs on Black Messiah. Q-Tip and Tribe Called Quest were other collaborators on Black Messiah.
D’Angelo has ended a long dry spell with the release of Black Messiah. His last album, Voodoo, was received, in general, with favorable reviews by critics. Yolanda Sangweni, ESSENCE.com Entertainment Editor, described the album as “gut bucket blues,” while the ESSENCE Entertainment Editor, Cori Murray, said that the first songs on Black Messiah reminded him “of Prince’s Controversy album.”
The renowned R&B artist first hit the musical charts 20 years ago. He did it with the collaborative effort, U Will Know, along with the other famed singers who made up Black Men United, R. Kelly, Gerald Levert, Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, Raphael Saadiq and Usher. D’Angelo wrote the music for the song. The person who wrote the lyrics was none other than his brother, Luther Archer.
The following year marked the release of D’Angelo’s debut album, Brown Sugar. The album had the three top ten R&B hits Crusin’ Brown Sugar and Lady on it. His second album was not released until four and a half years later, as the Grammy-award singer took some time out to do soundtracks and work with other musical artists.
His second album, Voodoo, debuted at number one on both the R&B and Top 200 charts. He then promoted the album with a world tour. In 2009, the news came out that D’Angelo was going to release a third album, James River, with Prince and other R&B recording artists taking a role in it.
In June 2010, a new album and tour was announced but nothing came of it. Then, in 2012, D’Angelo did some concerts in Europe, including an appearance at Bonnaroo. Two years later, in 2014, further news came out that he was recording new material in the studio. Only a couple of days ago, on December 10, a video on YouTube suggested that his album was imminent, though no release date was mentioned. Few people suspected that the album, Black Messiah, would be out this soon.
Q-tip wrote about the release of Black Messiah on Twitter. Representatives for D’Angelo confirmed that the album would be released at midnight, on Sunday, December 12.
In an information sheet handed out at the listening party on Sunday afternoon, D’Angelo stated that some people might think, by titling the album Black Messiah, he was calling himself “a Black Messiah.” However, he continued, adding “the title is about all of us.” He wrote that the name of the album is “about an idea we can all aspire to,” and that everybody should “aspire to be a Black Messiah.”
D’Angelo released the first song from Black Messiah on Saturday, Sugah Daddy. It drew praise from music critics and fans alike. On the 12 songs that make up Black Messiah, D’Angelo makes references to people rising up around the world, from Occupy Wall Street to Egypt to Ferguson. The thematic message of the album seems to be that we all can be “Black Messiahs,” or leaders working to achieve needed changes, in our own ways.
Besides Sugah Daddy, the other eleven tracks on Black Messiah by D’Angelo include the first song, Ain’t That Easy, as well as The Charade, 1000 Deaths, Really Love, Till It’s Done (Tutu), Back in the Future (Part I) and (Part II), Prayer, The Door, Betray My Heart, and Another Life. Be sure to check out and download Black Messiah when it gets released digitally at midnight!
Written By Douglas Cobb