Hark! What is this? A Christmas miracle?
It took about 15 years and lots of dashed promises and hopes, but with a twinkle in his eye and a sly smirk, D'Angelo decided to give us an early, wrapped present in the form of Black Messiah.
In a surprise attack, while not a creature stirred, and everybody had already unleashed their end-of-the-year lists (I see what you did there D), over the weekend some goodies were left in our social media boxes with care as a brief announcement of the album's arrival popped up on YouTube, then a few hours later, the track "Sugah Daddy" materialized. D and his Vanguard troop decided to keep spreading the soul cheer 'round as he saved the biggest gift for last as Black Messiah dropped in full on iTunes and Spotify at midnight --- and of course everybody and their mama lost their collective minds.
As brilliant as this master release game plan was (how did we miss that it had been in motion since June?), what D had to say about the album is equally insightful, as it reads in the album's liner notes:
"'Black Messiah' is a hell of a name for an album. It can easily be misunderstood. Many will think it's about religion. Some will jump to the conclusion that I'm calling myself a Black Messiah. For me, the title is about all of us. It's about the world. It's about an idea we can all aspire to. We should all aspire to be a Black Messiah."
It's about Ferguson, and in Egypt, in Occupy Wall Street and in every place where a community has had enough and decides to make change happen. It's not about praising one charismatic leader but celebrating thousands of them. Not every song on the album is politically charged (though many are), but calling this album Black Messiah creates a landscape where these songs can live to the fullest. Black Messiah is not one man. It's a feeling that, collectively, we are all that leader."Spreading that good will towards man y'all.
Yours truly has called in "D'Angelo Ill" today to put aside a slice of time to digest the supreme soul and testament (and mumbled enunciation...) that is awash in this, and on first spin, "Really Love", "The Charade" , and the album shattering closer "Another Life" sound good to my ears, but that will probably change in the next few days, because yes, my Audio Children, the album is that good. D'Angelo still meditates in the church of guitar washed backwoods soul, but for all of his fuzzy lyrical mumbles and wailing falsettos, he's still pretty much given us somethin' we can feel that is out of time, but is still so lounging in it. Well, it took almost half a decade for D'Angelo to tinker and be the keen perfectionist on it so naturally we weren't going to get anything less than stellar, right?
Black Messiah has risen (it has already soared up to #1 on iTunes!) and in a time where soul and R&B music are in vastly different stages, this is a bold and somewhat foreshadowing entry to how the genres are going to sound in the coming year. The game plan has shifted...