D’Angelo‘s new album, the neo-soul legend’s third overall and first since 2000′s watershed Voodoo, is available now. This is a sentence we’ve been wanting to write for, well, almost 14 years, but as of midnight last night, it’s actually true. You can stream Black Messiah below or buy it via iTunes.
Officially credited to D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah premiered during a listening party overseen by the Roots’ Questlove on Sunday night before being released to digital outlets. As Rolling Stone reports, Questlove is among the contributors to the 12-song set, alongside Q-Tip, Voodoo bassist Pino Palladino, veteran R&B session drummer James Gadson and Parliament Funkadelic associate Kendra Foster (the last of whom is credited with co-writing eight of the songs).
Get back to me in 14 years, but the album’s oozing, unpredictable mix of funk and soul certainly sounds at first pass like a worthy successor to the D’Angelo discography. The album’s promotion also puts it in a political context, with the singer reportedly writing in a booklet handed out at the listening session, “It’s about people rising up in Ferguson and in Egypt and in Occupy Wall Street and in every place where a community has had enough and decides to make change happen.” Billboard highlights a lyric that’s particularly resonant after this weekend’s New York over a grand jury’s decision not to indict in the police-involved death of Eric Garner: “All we wanted was a chance to talk, ‘stead we only got outlined in chalk.”
Black Messiah, it’s true, has been a long time coming, but there were reasons to hope it might finally arrive this year. Last month, D’Angelo announced a European tour. He performed at this summer’s AfroPunk festival, though there was some uncertainty when his name disappeared from the website (AfroPunk co-sponsored Sunday’s listening session). In May, he gave a lengthy interview for Red Bull Music Academy (the other listening party co-sponsor). Shortly afterward, D’Angelo’s manager Kevin Liles said the album would indeed be released in 2014. For years, though, Questlove had been saying a new D’Angelo LP was only a few percentage points from completion, so this time it’s just a thrill that the math worked out.
Enough words; listen below.
Black Messiah (December 15, RCA)
1. Ain’t That Easy
2. 1000 Deaths
3. The Charade
4. Sugah Daddy
5. Really Love
6. Back in the Future (Part I)
7. Till It’s Done (Tutu)
9. Betray My Heart
10. The Door
11. Back in the Future (Part II)
12. Another Life