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Josh Hurst

D'Angelo - Black Messiah

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Out at MIDNIGHT TONIGHT.

 

Makes me look pretty foolish for posting my Top 10 so early this year.

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This sounds amazing under headphones. The time spent on this project really shows. And surprisingly, in this case, that's a good thing.

 

Man, I hate it when nostalgia-based thoughts like this occur: But this is the kind of work I want to be hearing from Prince at this stage in his career. This has that spirit... wild new frontiers of sound explored in a sturdy R&B-soulmobile. Dizzying harmonies.

Edited by Overstreet

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So the black Kevin Shields actually did it. Merry Christmas, music lovers.

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I have listened to this and nothing else over the past two days, and it really is a magnificent piece of work. The Prince comparison is apt, primarily for how much fun D'Angelo seems to be having with the human voice; the closing track, as many have noted, sounds like the missing piece from Sign O' the Times. I hear plenty of Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and Al Green as well.

 

I love the disorienting effect of all the vocal tracks, but more than anything: This is such a killer drum record. The songs touch on a lot of different sounds and production styles, yet it all seems so fluid and natural-- everything unfolding like it's one endless groove.

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... meanwhile: The album was originally slated for release in 2015, but was bumped up at the last minute as a response to nationwide protests and civil unrest. Thus, the album has the unique distinction of being 14 years in the making, and also a rush release.

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I love the disorienting effect of all the vocal tracks, but more than anything: This is such a killer drum record. The songs touch on a lot of different sounds and production styles, yet it all seems so fluid and natural-- everything unfolding like it's one endless groove.

 

YES. I've listened to this a few times now and really, really dig it. My appreciation for it'll grow in the next year, I'm sure, but for now my favorite piece of the puzzle is the drums. Questlove, I presume? 

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I love the disorienting effect of all the vocal tracks, but more than anything: This is such a killer drum record. The songs touch on a lot of different sounds and production styles, yet it all seems so fluid and natural-- everything unfolding like it's one endless groove.

 

YES. I've listened to this a few times now and really, really dig it. My appreciation for it'll grow in the next year, I'm sure, but for now my favorite piece of the puzzle is the drums. Questlove, I presume? 

 

 

The CD insert credits three total drummers, though I believe ?uesto handles the majority of the songs. He is actually credited as co-writer on "The Charade" and "Another Life," as well.

 

I know that the drummer on "Sugah Daddy" is soul/R&B legend James Gadson, who is knocking on 80 but turns in a sublimely funky hambone performance on that track.

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Love this:

 

 

When Black Messiah emerged late Sunday night, there were plenty of jokes about how every music critic in the world was now scrambling to revise his year-end lists, which, I don’t know, sure, I guess. What I do know is that on a January night in 2000, I ventured out into the freezing cold to stand in line at a Tower Records that no longer exists so I could buy a copy of Voodoo at the stroke of midnight. I was 20 years old and took it home and listened to it well into the early morning, convinced it was the best album that had ever come out in my lifetime, the kind of thing you convince yourself of when you’re 20. All I wanted that night was to hear the next D’Angelo record, talk about it, write about it, and I’ve wanted that every day since. Music like this is made for a different list.

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John Mulvey:

 

 

Instinctively, it feels like a wonderful record, not least because of the way some very loose virtuosity - the scratchy Spanish guitar on "Really Love", for instance, where you can hear D'Angelo's squeaking on the strings - sits in kinetic, ultra-sophisticated arrangements.
...
I have noble plans to live with "Black Messiah" for a couple of weeks and try and write a different kind of review in the new year; remind me if I don’t get round to doing it. I don't think there's anything innately unprofessional or rash in gushing at speed over one of these snap releases - I mean, as a journalist, it's in my nature to want to tell everyone, as soon as possible, how great "The Charade" is here, and how much it reminds me of the psychedelic density, the saturated sound of Prince on the bridge between "Parade" and "Around The World In A Day".

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I've listened to it more, to see if I've cooled on it, and I haven't. I think it may well be a masterpiece - not a term I use often or loosely.

Edited by bloop

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He seems to know a lot, but to what end? The vast majority of critics who have just as much background knowledge continue to rave. I'm sticking with "instant classic" myself.

Edited by bloop

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One-post digression to discuss the whitest of white artists: How often has the same performer scored two singles among the Top 10 Pazz & Jop singles of the year -- in the Top 5, no less!

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One-post digression to discuss the whitest of white artists: How often has the same performer scored two singles among the Top 10 Pazz & Jop singles of the year -- in the Top 5, no less!

 

Second-post digression: Am I the only one who thinks "Blank Space" is a weak single?

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I heard Blank Space this morning again during my commute (I've heard it several times, but rarely from the beginning of the song, as I did this morning) and really dug it, but yeah, it's not a particularly complex song or anything. The hook is pretty good, sure, but I don't know if that's enough to justify such high placement on the list. Shake It Off is far better, IMHO, although it's not particularly complex either. It just feels more ... revelatory, or something. (I'm looking for some reason beyond the song itself to justify the high placement of that particular track.)

Edited by Christian

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"Blank Space" was stuck in my head for days. I rather like it, but I'm sure it's aided by the visual accompaniment of the video, which is just funny.

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Has anyone read anything about the inclusion of The Lord's Prayer ("Prayer") on this record? It was a nice surprise during my first listen. I'm interested if anyone writes about the significance of its inclusion here, and about the album's messianic themes. 

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My students are going to write a paper comparing MLK's civil rights rhetoric to contemporary race issues (e.g. how he might respond if he were still alive), and I'm going to use the "Charade" SNL performance as an example of someone speaking out.

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Curious to know if there's a connection.

Edited by Overstreet

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Black Messiah is the name of a great Cannonball Adderly album, too. Definitely a term with some roots in jazz and soul.

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