D’Angelo is an American R&B singer-songwriter, producer, and instrumentalist. He was one of the most influential musicians during the rise of the neo-soul movement, often drawing comparisons to his influences, Marvin Gaye, and Prince.
1995’s debut Brown Sugar had already strategically positioned D’Angelo—born Michael Eugene Archer and Virginia-raised to a Pentecostal preacher father—as the next Hendrix-like deity in black music, after Prince and maybe Lenny Kravitz. But since its release, D’Angelo had become distracted by weed and weightlifting, shaken by the deaths of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. and debilitated by sophomore pressure. In the interim he’d fathered two children, switched managers and jumped to a new record label. He wanted to be like Sly Stone, George Clinton and Al Green. And most of all, he wanted to be like Jimi Hendrix.
What happened next only added to D’Angelo’s myth. Having hit mega-stardom with the single “Untitled” and its intensely sexual video, a follow-up was slow to come. So slow, in fact, it still hasn’t arrived. Though he’s since made guest appearances and even toured in 2012, his silence – both musically and in his refusal to talk to the press – has only helped his cult of status grow. Even if he never releases another album, he’s already given us so much.
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Voodoo was like crack for purists—this was Real Music, serious as a heart attack, deeply reverent and worshipful of the past. D’Angelo once said about the content of Voodoo: “This album is a personal testimony about my life and my emotions. My life kinda changed overnight when Brown Sugar came out. It took me a while just to get used to that – the attention, the money, and everything that comes along with that… At times I felt like I wanted to run away from it. I still reject a lot of shit. A lot of people say, “Well you’re a superstar now.” If I start to look at it like that, then something’s wrong. I have to continue to remind myself why I’m doing this and the things that inspired or motivated me way back before Brown Sugar ever happened and before I ever got into this business – just my love for the music and wanting to reach the people.”