Who is D’Angelo?
Michael Eugene is a Neo-Soul multi-instrumentalist, mostly known for his smash hit single “Untitled (How Does it Feel)” off of the critically acclaimed “Voodoo” released in January 2000, Voodoo went on to win a grammy for best R&B Album, alongside Untitled winning a grammy for best R&B Male Singer. D’angelo became a very important artist of the Neo-Soul movement in the late 90s, and early 2000s. In 1995, D’angelo branched off from his previous musical endeavours into what would be his first solo debut “Brown Sugar”. EMI signed D’angelo in 1991 after hearing a demo tape he had presented to them, the songs on the demo tape were originally for his past group, but soon realized he would be able to do his thing better as a solo act. D’Angelo was born in Richmond Virginia, when he was 18 he dropped out of high school and moved to New York City where he would start his music career.
A few months ago I started reading Questlove (Drummer from the Roots)’s autobiography “Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove“. This is an excellent read if you’re into the hip hop and soul scene, and want to learn about music that surrounded Questlove during the early 90s and early 00s. He worked with D’Angelo on his album Voodoo and described D’Angelo as an insane perfectionist, making Quest extremely meticulous with his drum beats that would otherwise take little to no brain power. For D’Angelo, it was all about the feeling he got from every instrument being presented, and with that in mind, you’re able to hear that emotion coming from every instrument on Voodoo. I hadn’t heard about D’Angelo before, but was very intrigued by his work, and started off with his first album “Brown Sugar”.
Right off the bat you’re hit with that sexy, suave, and soul warming vibe that D’Angelo gives you in every track of his. The title track “Brown Sugar” has this background ambience that resonates romance and sexual tension naturally, with a very warm and comforting bass line progressing throughout the song, and D’Angelo stating that he “wants some of your brown sugar”. This theme of r&b, neo-soul flavour is presented throughout the entire album, but in diversity, like in the song “Crusin’” which is a song about driving around with the windows down, mind full of euphoria and bliss, with a girl or guy friend by your side, reciting: “I love it, when we’re cruising together”. The thing that really grabs my attention with D’Angelo, is that he does that R&B sound so effortlessly, the songs flow so smoothly, and there’s no attention grabbing choruses or breaks or other cookie cutter tools that are prominent in most top 40 pop/r&b music nowadays. Rather, D’Angelo focuses on the feeling of the track, and lets the listener feel that emotion throughout the entire play through, with no interruptions. D’angelo is pure, raw soul music.
Songs to check out on the album: “Brown Sugar“, “Shit, Damn, Motherfucker“, “Cruisin’“, and “Higher“
Check out the album on Spotify: