If you’re a music lover of a certain age, too young to remember when contemporary R&B wasn’t joined at the hips with rap, or didn’t come dressed up in a shimmering electro-pop sheen, we’ll forgive you for asking.
Now let the history lesson begin! Flashback to 1995, back when 21-year-old D’Angelo (born Michael Eugene Archer) was quickly becoming one of the hottest things in music. Released that year, his debut album, Brown Sugar, helped usher in the era of neo soul, and with Voodoo, his long-delayed 2000 sophomore album, for whose “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” video he bared both body and soul (literally!), he became an R&B rarity: a sex symbol capable of seducing both fans and critics with his bulging talent.
The only way was up, it seemed. But instead of ascending, D’Angelo dropped out. In some ways, it wasn’t so surprising. When I met D’Angelo in the mid-˜90s before a taping of MTV Unplugged, I was immediately disarmed by his cheerful but low-key and unassuming manner. He easily could have passed as any guy in the audience who’d wandered into the performer’s circle by mistake”and I mean that as a compliment. Modesty in a hunky package, D’Angelo, unlike the egocentric superstars crowding the charts today, clearly wasn’t in it for the star trip. Whether sitting at the piano or plucking a guitar, he was playing for love of the game, not the “F.A.M.E.” and “Fortune” (to quote the crass titles of the two most recent albums by Chris Brown, D’Angelo’s modern-day antithesis).
After taking five years to release his sophomore effort, D’Angelo spent the next decade well outside of the spotlight, only making occasional scattered appearances on leaked songs and other people’s records (including Mark Ronson’s Record Collection). And like so many musical geniuses before and after, he was plagued by demons, which may or may not have shaken up his turbulent romance with fellow singer Angie Stone, the mother of his teenage son Michael, and which definitely led to several legal scrapes, including a 2005 arrest for drunk driving and drug possession, and another in 2010 for soliciting a female undercover police officer for sex in New York City. (more…)
Bonnaroo rocks again
Bonnaroo was this past weekend, and there were many moments that were to be expected: Radiohead was stunning, Eminem was fierce, Danzig tried to punch out a photographer. Then there were the surprises”The Root’s tribute to MCA, Alice Cooper performing Born This Way and, best of all, the return of D’Angelo. The R&B singer, who’s been out of the spotlight for 12 years, was introduced by ?uestlove during The Roots’ set, and took the audience through classics by Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, and Parliament. Watch him perform She Came in Through the Bathroom Window below.
Glen Campbell, Josh Homme star in A Better Place
Glen Campbell’s video for A Better Place is nothing if not poignant. In it, the country singer, who is battling Alzheimer’s, flips through photos of his life, reminiscing about the good times as Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age hovers nearby. A Better Place is intended to be Campbell’s last video, and is the single off his final album Ghost On The Canvas. Just listen to the line Some days I’m so confused Lord, my past gets in my way, and try not to get teary-eyed. We failed.
Lady Gaga strikes back
After being hit with a pole wielded by a backup dancer during her concert in Auckland and suffering a mild concussion and black eye, you’d think things get better for Lady Gaga. But NOOOOO, along comes Madonna with a couple of kicks to the singer while she’s down. Gaga responded to Madonna’s jabs during her Auckland concert”and she did it while PLAYING A KEYBOARD MOTORCYCLE, people! Check it out below. Oh, and Gaga, we think the black eye looks boss.
George Washington is rolling over in his grave at this one. Greta Hawkins, principal of PS90 in Coney Island, banned kindergarteners from singing Proud To Be An American at their commencement ceremony, deeming the lyrics too grown up. But she let the class perform Justin Bieber’s Baby, naturally. You know, cause the lyrics Are we an item / Girl quit playin‘ are totally age-appropriate for a five year old.
Lauryn Hill in trouble for tax evasion
Did you want to know the whole story behind Lauryn Hill’s refusal to pay taxes for two years? Neither did we. But the singer felt compelled to write a meandering explanation on why she didn’t pay taxes on her $1.8 million income. If you feel like reading a bunch of bull, knock yourself out.
Kanye West chastises Dubliners
When Dubliners throw coins, Kanye West throws shade. The rapper stopped his show after discovering someone had thrown a coin up on stage, and then blamed the coin for messing up his flow, saying Don’t throw no hard sh** onstage. Yeah guys, only the soft variety, please.
- Usher covers Pumped Up Kicks
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- Pink has gallbladder removed
- Andrew W.K. to speak at My Little Pony conference
- Katy Perry and Cheryl Cole dish to Graham Norton
- Kim Kardashian buys Kanye West a Lamborghini
- Stream Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel
- Usher, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj to play BET Awards
- Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe reaches No.1 spot
- Kanye’s Air Yeezy shoes sell on eBay for $90,300
- Carrie Underwood supports gay marriage
- Chocolate Rain’s Tay Zonday gets low on Call Me Maybe
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- Watch Skye Ferreira’s Red Lips video
His debut album, Brown Sugar launched him into super-stardom in 1995 and helped the neo-soul movement gain real traction on the mainstream. His single Lady peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was a major commercial success. He appeared on Lauryn Hill‘s track Nothing Even Matters, from her groundbreaking album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and recorded his hit single Devil’s Pie for the film Belly in 1998. To top it off, he fathered a child with fellow neo-soul star Angie Stone.
D’Angelo’s sophomore album Voodoo debuted at #1 in 2000 and won two Grammy Awards for Best R&B Album and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. It was ranked #488 on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003. The album’s second single, Untitled (How Does It Feel), was nominated for four MTV Video Music Awards and is ranked #44 on VH-1’s list of 100 Greatest Videos Of All Time.
He seemed to be on top of the world when he suddenly vanished from the public eye. Rumors of drug addiction swirled and D’Angelo all but disappeared, abandoning his place among music’s elite. In a recent interview with GQ, Michael D’Angelo’ Archer finally let the world in on the dark hole he’s been hiding in for the last twelve years.