D' Angelo

by Scarlet Waters

So when he starts screaming “Yeah YEAH! Yeah YEAH—YEAH YEAH YEAH!” at the end of Untitled: How Does it Feel, I am pretty much screaming along with him.  So to answer your question Mr. Michael Eugene Archer (his birth name), (ahem), it feels really GOOD!  This has got to be in my top 5 greatest love-makin songs ever made.  This song is what pulled many of us into D’Angelo’s musical stratosphere, but in an ironic twist, it actually served to propel him out of the limelight. 

 

Many of us were already hip to his first album Brown Sugar that had songs like a mystical remake of Smokey Robinson’s Cruisin, and the title track Brown Sugar that despite the industry’s branding of Neo-Soul, was clearly Funk-oriented to those of us who know.  The album went platinum by 1996 and sold an estimated 2 million copies. 

Untitled: How Does it Feel is a song from D’Angelo’s second album Voodoo, which he released 4 years later in 2000, but it seems to mark an awakening in him that made him aware of his discomfort with the sex-symbol status that the record industry was attempting to force onto him.  Along with songs that will live on in infamy in Soul and Funk music like Devil’s Pie, and One Mo’Gin, he did another soul-stirring remake of the classic Roberta Flack tune Feel Like Making Love. 

 

 

 

 

This discomfort with fame and the sex-symbol status that was forced onto him by the video for  Untitled: How Does it Feel, caused him to retreat into relative obscurity.  I hope at this point, that the general public is starting to get a better understanding of how difficult it is for artists to maintain their equilibrium in an industry that only cares about the bottom line—which is that dollar. 

 

D’Angelo endured many life trials during his long hiatus from the music business including the suicide of his best friend, subsequent addiction problems including a DUI arrest, a serious car accident, and deeply personal issues revolving around his need for musical freedom in an industry that seeks to impose limitations on artists to ensure profits.  D’Angelo’s roots in and love of Gospel, Blues, Soul, R&B, Rock & Roll, Jazz, and Funk and his great musicianship just would not allow his soul to be comfortable with these limitations, and he has fought for years to achieve his own sense of musical and artistic freedom. 

 

Over the years he has continued to produce and write for many artists including Angie Stone, Erykah Badu, Lauren Hill, J. Dilla, Snoop Dogg, Common, Raphael Saadiq, and Gerald Levert.  His third studio album, Black Messiah, was released in 2014 which won Best R&B album at the 2015 58th Annual Grammy Awards, as well as Best R&B Song for Really Love. 

 

Having now achieved a sense of comfort in his own skin and peace with himself, D’Angelo continues to perform world-wide with his band D’Angelo And The Vanguard, releasing music in his own time and in the style that he wishes

 

READ: Anderson Paak: Young Heart, Old Soul

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