D'Angelo is worth the wait

BACK IN ACTION: D'Angelo
BACK IN ACTION: D'Angelo

THE last time D'Angelo released an album, 14 years ago, the world was gripped in the uncertainty of Y2K. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were non-existent and the proliferation of cellphones was minimal.

D'Angelo was at the forefront of the neo-soul movement of the '90s. The release of his debut Brown Sugar was epoch making along with Erykah Badu's Baduizm, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill blazed the trail for the sound.

Since 2000, D'Angelo has not given interviews or live performances, and released no new material, except for minor collaborations and sporadic demos leaked on the internet.

He returns with Black Messiah to claim his crown as the godfather of neo-soul. Fellow musicians and celebrities have joined the chorus of welcoming the 40-year-old back.

The music has changed somewhat, but there's still a sense that he's caught in a time warp. There is a tinge of rock on the opening track Ain't That Easy and 1000 Deaths.

The staccato of the jazzy Betray My Heart and playfulness of its beat make it a finger-snap inducing lively track. He serves funk generously on tracks like Sugah Daddy, Back To The Future (Part 1) and Till It's Done (Tutu).

There are some unwelcome auto-tune traces and Prince-like elements on The Charade.

The album is also political. Its cover is a photo of outstretched arms from a march and he cites recent protests around the world as inspiration.

"It's about people rising up in Ferguson and in Egypt and in Occupy Wall Street and in every place where a community has had enough and decides to make change happen."

He might as well have included South Africa with our recent service delivery protests.

Music is richer with this comeback of the decade.

 

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