5 reasons d’angelo needs to release an album this year

February 11, 2014

I sat waiting for him to take the stage. The crowd was getting restless. 20 minutes passed. Nothing. A glimmer of hope came in the form of his band members Jesse Johnson, The Time guitarist, legendary bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Chris “Daddy” Dave. They played a couple of riffs for a minute, then left.
45 minutes passed still nothing. One man asked, “where is he?” A woman smacked her lips with an attitude and responded, “You saw him on the BET Awards? He’s probably in some crack house somewhere. ” I drowned them out and tried to remain positive. Almost an hour passed, still nothing. Rude comments flew like fastballs, and the crowd started to boo. My heart dropped.

By Loy Alexandra, AFROPUNK Contributor *

I had waited YEARS to see him. I’d discovered him when I was nine. My dad left Brown Sugar on his dresser. Being nosey I sneaked it into the cassette player. I listened confused. “What the heck was that?” It sounded more like whining than singing to me.
It wasn’t until college that I came to respect D’angelo for what he truly was – a musical genius. One morning while preparing for class they played Cruisin’ on the radio. Immediately after class I rushed to the record store and got everything with his name on it.
Listening with new ears I realized his discography, though short, was impactful. I’d discovered Brown Sugar was the harmonious result of when soul and hip-hop collide. And Voodoo was in a league of its own. Accompanied by beautiful messy instrumentation, D’angelo’s voice sounded as ancient and regal as the Pyramids in Africa. I concluded after a thorough listen, both Brown Sugar and Voodoo were two of the greatest contributions to musical history in the past 20 years.
From there, all I needed for my life to be complete was to hear him live. You could imagine my excitement when I found out he would be coming to my city.
And I sat there, in full anticipation of seeing for the first time a man who had become like a myth to me. A man I knew existed in reality, but seemed only alive on my stereo.
I shook my head as the boos got louder and whispered to myself, “Come on D. Don’t do this. Not today. I don’t care about anybody else performing. I came specifically to support you. I’ve been waiting for this. A long time. Don’t disappoint me.”
It was like we telepathically communicated –crazy I know- because as soon as I said my last words, the lights dropped. The band started to play the Donuts (Intro) by the late legendary producer J. Dilla, and D’angelo entered from the crowd.
What I witnessed after that was probably the most breath-taking moments of my life. He sounded more amazing in person, than any audio from live performances or albums I’d heard. I left that concert just knowing an album would be released. That was in 2012. Here we are on his 40th birthday in 2014. Still no album. I write these 5 reasons D’angelo should release an album THIS year in the hope that somewhere, my words and the universe will conspire to make it happen. Here goes…

1. It’s been too long
This goes without saying. It has been 14 years since the release of Voodoo in 2000. Although he’s taken sabbaticals between albums before – it was five years between Brown Sugar and Voodoo – a 14 year break is unacceptable. Do you know how long that is? Me personally, I’ve graduated from middle school, high school, college, law school, and got my first professional job in that span of time. That is an ENTIRE lifetime of absence. I understand the creative process takes a while, but 14 years? Come on D.

2. The continued false hope is a slap in the face to fans.
I have heard D’angelo’s musical partner in crime and Roots Drummer Questlove, repeatedly give percentages on how finished the album is. First it was 75% ready. Then 85% ready. Then 99.9 % ready. Russell Elevado, D’angelo’s engineer, has tweeted on more than one occasion they were putting the finishing touches on the album. Q-Tip and others have tweeted they’ve heard songs from the album. Recently, they released 1 second (okay it was a little longer but still super short) video clips of him in the studio. To repeatedly get our hopes up only to be disappointed is a slap in the face. Pretty soon it will get to a point where fans, even loyal ones, will be so fed up with the repeated disappointment, they will lose all interest. He should release it now, while we still care.

3. Despite some people’s negative reactions to his return, he has a loyal fan base.
From the negativity folks spewed at Essence Fest about his physical appearance, to the crazy tweets people made during his BET Awards performance, it’s obvious everyone was not excited about his return. In spite of this, there are still people ALL AROUND THE WORLD, who love and appreciate D’angelo’s music. Don’t believe me? Just check music message boards, blogs, tweets and statuses. Even after all this time people are still talking about the influence his music has had on their lives, and his albums are still in their rotation. While he might be an afterthought to some people, there are folks literally begging for a new album. Those people shouldn’t have to wait any longer because of some folks bad reactions.

4. I’m offering him an apology for what he went through during the Voodoo Tour.
It’s understandable that D’angelo downplays his anger about being sexually objectified during the Voodoo Tour. Our society has taught men that it’s not masculine to talk about their uncomfortability with being sex objects. Their supposed to like the attention. And while it’s activism for people to talk about how wrong sexual objectification against women is, it’s trivialized when it comes to men. Case and point, Jezebel did an article on D’angelo and objectification. In the article, the author admitted to not being able to feel sorry for him because it’s what women go through on a daily basis. As a woman, yes I know it’s true. However, two wrongs don’t make a right. Objectification of any HUMAN is wrong. D’angelo and Questlove put everything they had into making the Voodoo tour something people had never experienced before. For example, watching old footage to study their heros Marvin, Prince, Jimi, James and P-Funk, trying to bring that soulful spirit to a new generation. They even assembled an all-star band of musical legends to create what they described as the “perfect art machine.” To put in all this work only to be met night after night with what Questlove describes as, “F your art. We want your body,” I can only imagine what he must have felt. So I want to personally extend my apology to D’angelo for what he went through (even though I was too young to go to the Voodoo tour back then). I want him to know that there were actually people out there who appreciated him shutting it down on stage for 3 hours.

5. The world needs his gift.
Marvin Gaye once said:
“I hope to refine music, study it, try to find some area that I can unlock. I don’t quite know how to explain it but it’s there. These can’t be the only notes in the world, there’s got to be other notes some place, in some dimension, between the cracks on the piano keys.”
No other contemporary artist is more of an embodiment of Gaye’s quote than D’angelo. He’s not just a musician. He is a musical historian. A mad scientist of sorts. Always dissecting and studying the Gospel, Soul, Funk and Rock roots his musical ancestors laid before him, and consistently finding ways to weave them together to create new sounds. Also, in addition to the multiple instruments he already knows how to play, this man single handily taught himself how to play the guitar during his absence. I don’t care what anyone says, he’s been blessed with a musical gift out of this planet. It is meant to be given to the world, not kept selfishly to himself.
To wrap up this article, if I could say anything to D’angelo on his 40th birthday it would be this: The world has enough darkness. It needs more light. Your music is a beacon of light D’angelo. Don’t deprive us of its glow. Happy Birthday!

* Loy Alexandra is a Chicago based Attorney and Freelance writer who writes about faith, personal development and pop culture. Follow her on twitter @Sherontraining.