Black Messiah, D'Angelo 2015
Contrast Black Messiah with To Pimp A Butterfly and I think it's clear that the racial bias, structural racism and police brutality have a heightened sense of importance in our country right now. Who you speak to will determine if they think it's long overdue or that it's an over sensationalized trend of bad apple police officers. Regardless, it's impossible to ignore what's currently going on within the United States. If you're familiar with the blog, my tweets, etc, you know where I stand on this, but that's not what this post is about.
Black Messiah is what I was hoping for from To Pimp A Butterfly. Black Messiah is musically forward, diverse, representative of the times and it emphasizes issues similar to To Pimp A Butterfly. The transitions are so smooth that you will be abruptly disappointed when the last track ends. D'Angelo's rightfully renown career has been resurrected after setbacks which nearly prevented his art to continue. I fully expected D'Angelo to make it to the level he is now back in the 00's, but it wasn't in the cards. Brown Sugar changed my life and Voodoo was a great album too. I was hoping for more projects and collaborations from D'Angelo over the past 15 years, but my interest in R&B faded after D'Angelo and Maxwell faded from the scene. To this date, my interest has only piqued when Maxwell dropped BlackSummersNight and now Black Messiah brings me back to the genre temporarily. The whole trap soul era has me seeking soul music in other places.
D' Angelo's style is still defiantly analog and fresh as if he never left. It's an album I wouldn't hesitate to let my kids listen to when they're young, but I would probably skip past the "cracker Christ" clip from Farrakhan. Other than the Farrakhan clip, there isn't much else that's overtly racially aggressive on the project. It's not militant or angry, which I can appreciate when it comes to artists that address racial issues, because that's where the majority of artists go. For the most part, D'Angelo gets his message across without being literal or forced. Also, Black Messiah achieves all of this while remaining uplifting.
Black Messiah is a perfect summer album for lounging. It's a project that lends itself to be heard from beginning to end. The genre mash-up is welcomed because creativity and experimentation is few and far between. D'Angelo's influences like funk, Prince, soul, R&B, rock, Spanish music and hip hop all make their way onto the project. The record plays like a contemporary historic interpretation of music over the past 75 years.