D’Angelo revolutionized soul music like few others. As part of the Soulquarian movement, and friend and collaborator to Questlove, Lauryn Hill and Raphael Saadiq, D’Angelo continued the legacy of Marvin Gaye and Prince, while fusing it with an off-kilter beat flourish akin to that of J Dilla. With his first album Brown Sugar, D laid the cornerstones of his take on modern R&B and slow jams: low slung, lazy, and hazy love songs that tipped a hat to everyone from Curtis Mayfield to Al Green, Sam Cooke to Jimi Hendrix, and Sly Stone to James Brown, all while maintaining his own raw, gospel-steeped sensuality.
But it was his follow-up Voodoo that cemented his reputation as an iconic artist, earning him many awards, including two Grammys, and multi-platinum sales across the board. D’Angelo has had his fingers over multiple classic albums, including LPs from Common, Slum Village, Q-Tip, BB King, Roy Hargrove, The Roots, Method Man: the list goes on.
Renowned for going deeper into arrangements and songwriting than almost anyone, D’Angelo has dedicated his life to the pursuit of the sweetest musical moments. That much is obvious on first listen to his newest album, Black Messiah. Released on December 15th, 2014, it came nearly 15 years after the release of Voodoo. In this exclusive interview conducted earlier this year, Chairman Mao asked D’Angelo to delve into the influences and inspirations behind his new album.