D’Angelo Will Unveil New Album ‘Black Messiah’ at NYC Listening Party
UPDATE: At a D’Angelo listening party Sunday night, host Nelson George announced that the singer’s new album Black Messiah will be available at midnight Monday morning.
After 14 years, numerous false starts and nearly two years of D’Angelo‘s next album being “99 percent done,” the singer will unveil the follow-up to 2000’s Voodoo this Sunday.
The R&B singer will play the completed album, Black Messiah, in its entirety at a listening session in New York hosted by writer Nelson George and organized by Red Bull Music Academy and Afropunk.
As Consequence of Sound notes, D’Angelo’s manager Kevin Liles shared a mysterious teaser trailer to promote the album.
George and the singer sat down in May at New York’s Brooklyn Museum for a public discussion. When the topic of “neo-soul” came up, D’Angelo hinted that he was embarking on a new musical direction with his own music. “I respect [the term] for what it is, but anytime you put a name on something, you just put it in a box,” said D’Angelo. “You want to be in a position where you can grow as an artist. You never want to be told, ‘Hey, well, you’re a neo-soul artist.’ Right now, I’m not. We’re going someplace else.”
D’Angelo also referenced his return to the spotlight, which began with a triumphant covers set at Bonnaroo 2012. Since then, whispers of a new album have appeared periodically.
Shortly after Bonnaroo, Questlove told Rolling Stone that D’Angelo had recorded nearly 30 tracks at Electric Lady, the same New York studio where the singer cut Voodoo. “He is about to take a radical 180 turn with this record,” Questlove said at the time. “It’s going to throw people off the same way that Prince’s Dirty Mind threw his R&B fanbase off. In the past few years, he’s discovered Bowie and Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Pet Sounds, Captain Beefheart and Zappa.” At the time, Questlove said that the musician was experimenting with guitar arrangements and creating his own keyboard sounds.
In January 2013, Questlove told Billboard that D’Angelo’s album was “99 percent done.” “I would not be far off by saying this is probably my generation’s version of Sly [and the Family Stone’s] There’s a Riot Goin’ On,” the drummer said. “It’s potent. It’s funky. It’s an extremely hard pill to swallow.
“It’s going to take you about 10 years to digest this record,” he added. “Totally brilliant. Just the way this society works with music…being able to judge if something is a classic after the first listen, you can do that after 30 seconds on this. And the fact that we started this record in 2004, and it still sounds like it came out five years from now, it is a testament to the timelessness of it.”
In a June interview, Liles said that the Bonnaroo show inspired D’Angelo to want to finish the album. “He very bluntly put it, ‘Kev, the studio and the stage: that’s my lifeblood. Now that I’ve touched it again, now that I see it again, I wanna be sure that the baby I’m about to have – the album – that I take it to the point where it’s all it can be.'”