14 years ago I walked into HMV and purchased Voodoo by D’Angelo. I bought Brown Sugar at the same time, mainly because I didn’t have the funds in 1995 but a weekend job allowed me to buy both Voodoo and Brown Sugar. I couldn’t ever choose which I love the most, it’s impossible. D’Angelo has been a huge love of mine for so long, and to wake up knowing a new record was out today was great news. There have been so many brilliant moments in music this year, for me. And I could have happily listed them off until this morning- pre D’Angelo release. So now, I can pretty much say that Black Messiah is THE most important and best thing to happen to music this year.
I’m not sure how to write about Black Messiah. I could pick apart every song and go on about why they are so good, I could go on about why it is so important for someone like D’Angelo to release this record or maybe combine them both and ramble on. I don’t know. I really don’t. I guess if you want a standard review, you’ve got the likes of *insert name.*
So, is Black Messiah a masterpiece? Was it worth the wait? Yep and yes some more. What you need to understand is that D’Angelo is the best R&B singer around. The guy just oozes real soul. He’s not some auto-tune buffoon relaying on producers to make him relevant. Even when he wasn’t making music, he was relevant. Always. This is the guy you listen to when you want to escape the modern world and go way back in time. He’s got nostalgia (I hate that word, sorry) flowing through his music. Marvin never really died. The thing about Black Messiah is it has been released at a time where something like this is truly truly needed. Sure he is known for his romantic wordplay, but Black Messiah is graciously political in all the right places.
This record is a touch of Al Green and Sly Stone, comparing D’Angelo to anyone current would be offensive to his music because if it wasn’t for him… But anyway, Black Messiah is the most important record of the year. That’s all we really need to know.
If you want your heart broken in a non romantic sense, then play and listen very carefully to The Charade. It captures everything that has been going on with yet again, police brutality and lack of a justice system. If “All we wanted was a chance to talk, ‘stead we only got outlined in chalk. Feet have bled a million miles we’ve walked, revealing at the end of the day, the charade.” doesn’t move you, then maybe you side with the police. D’Angelo is a brilliant writer, a fascinating story-teller. Shit, Damn, Motherfucker will always be my favourite song by him because of how he puts you in that situation. There is something beautiful in the way he writes about pain, with a sort of child-like innocence to it all. He’s someone who watches and writes about it so effortlessly yet careful. He just knows what to say, and my god, I am happy the wait is over.
But let’s be honest now, any record that credits Q-Tip and Questlove is going to be nothing short of genius. Kids that were probably created to the sounds of Brown Sugar and Voodoo now have the opportunity to understand why D’Angelo is so so important. Black Messiah is a result of years of on and off, up and down. But it is here. It is finally here.
We’re living in a time where we have gone back, too far back. A time where we were supposed to have learnt from. Some have, others evidently haven’t. Black Messiah is THE record to zone out from the real world to. It’ll ease some hearts, unleash some tears and speaks so much truth. It is the most powerful record of the year. Hype isn’t always deserved, but when it comes to this- oh it is truly needed. The greatest singer around is responsible for the greatest release of the year, that’s all there is to it. Black Messiah is a real Soul/Funk record that will appeal to anybody and everybody, it’s just so bloody good. Music is powerful, trust no one who thinks otherwise. This record is an expression of desire for unity and freedom, if that doesn’t make you want to see a change in the world then I feel bad for you, I really do.
The record ends with Another Life, a six minute dreamy gem to drift you off some place else but keeps you in the moment enough to hit play all over again. Each song gives you something new and a different way of seeing things. Frustration and love trickle through the Black Messiah. 14 years is a crazy long time, but if this is what happens then maybe it’s alright. But, D’Angelo don’t leave us so long again.