Can D’Angelo Make A Comeback Without Bringing Swexy Back?
by Charing Ball
A recently released cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” by D’Angelo has got everyone all grooving and excited, including yours truly, with thoughts that another D’Angelo album would be dropping any day now. However, ?uestlove (of The Roots crew), who originally tweeted the song, said that the cover is actually 8 years old. And that I, and everyone else impatiently awaiting, will have to spin his old stuff just a minute longer before his new album dropped. He also said that the album, tentatively called James River, is 97 percent done (what does that translate into anyway – a few extra ooohs and aaahs?).
So while we wait for D’Angelo’s long overdue return to music, which has been promised to us for two years now, I thought I’d speculate about whether or not he could make a comeback. And I don’t mean can he come back, drop an album and do relatively well sales-wise. But will we still receive him musically without the added status as a sex symbol?
It’s been 12 years since the cornrowed, gapped tooth, falsetto followed up his award winning debut album Brown Sugar with highly praised second album Voodoo. When he released his first album, D’Angelo was a pudgy piano player preaching to our souls with song such as Those Dreamin’ Eyes of Mines, Lady and When We Get By. That album was an instant classic and served as a breath of fresh air among the other producer driven R&B-Pop acts, which was dominating music at the time. He was also one of the founding members of the neo soul genre, which was a throwback to black soul, blues and jazz music artist of earlier decades.
Despite the relative success of Brown Sugar, it would take his second album Voodoo to propel his career beyond the limited audience that a neo-soul genre could provide him. Although music-wise, the album was just as dope as his first offering, the record buying audience was slow to catch on to this new experimental side of D’Angelo. That was until he dropped some weight, beefed up and had his chiseled naked body sensually asking us “How Does it Feel?” That video had all the ladies standing extra close to the television, trying magically to peer down below the TV pane and all their jealous, hating-A$$ boyfriends responding, “put some damn clothes on!”