Sunday, August 10, 2008

Are you ready for the new D'Angelo?

D'Angelo on set of THAT video..."This is my MTV diary. You think you know..."

So my boy texted me the other day asking if I read the Spin Magazine article on D'Angelo. "Of course (I haven't)" I replied. Thus, priority one was finding this article. Supposedly folks were scouring the internet for this article but to no avail, complaining that it was nowhere to be found and being pulled down from sites. Meanwhile, the Gent found Spin Magazine's free digital version and read the article at his leisure. (Good move on Spin's part, they may have gained a new subscriber here.)

I won't go into details about the article, but it indeed satisfied my curiosity. One thing I will note is the response sparked by "Untitled" (his intended tribute to Prince) or more so the video to "Untitled" that bisected D'Angelo's career simultaneously blessing and cursing the preacher's son. I must admit most non-Black folk I've spoken too about D'Angelo only know him as 'the naked dude in that video'. Couldn't remember a word of the song, but they knew the video. Roy Hargrove remarked that on tour D'Angelo could barely get through a song without folks heckling him to take off his clothes.
The catcalls had an undeniable effect on D'Angelo. "He'd get angry and start breaking shit," Thompson remembers. "The audience thinking, 'Fuck your art, I wanna see your ass!' made him angry."

For D'Angelo, who, as Trenier put it, "isn't a sexy dude" but a "real musician who wears glasses and plays video games," the objectification appeared to do lasting damage.

Word? Yet people wonder why so much of today's music sucks. You're there listening to the heart of the aural revolution and you could care less. You just want dude to be naked? Go to a strip club then. Ask them to throw on some D'Angelo and get your ones out. That's on your level. I mean, I've had to argue cats about how Voodoo is musically a better album than Brown Sugar. [Lyrically is another debate.] The question though is 'if an artist isn't understood by the public is it on him/her to dumb it down or on them to try to grasp his/her expression? ' Though if you didn't want to be exposed to his art, why attend his show? Maybe that's all part of the business side. The customer is always right, correct? But there is definitely a line at which you inform an unacceptable customer that they can shop somewhere else. "No shirt, no service." [Both are the nice way of saying "get the f*ck out!"] ::sigh:: "I don't want nothing... to do with you."

The article closes posing the question whether we will see the chiseled hunk of 2000 or the pudgy crooner of 1995 on the next D'Angelo run. Honestly, I hope it's the crooner. Because it really shouldn't matter. In fact, looks shouldn't matter in music at all. I doubt anyone was asking Robert Johnson to take off his shirt. Just like I doubt folks heckle Jill Scott (who tops my big girl list) to take it off before "Crown Royal". Besides, my survey says y'all didn't think 'D' was all that cute in the face anyway. So hopefully, a less attractive D'Angelo will put the focus where it should be. Maybe then folks will actually notice the art put forth by the Soultronics crew and the man one critic dubbed the "R&B Jesus".

I doubt it though. [If the "sexy" picture wasn't up there, would you have read this post?] Rather, I fully expect his next album to barely meet public anticipation and the consensus ultimately will be to pan the offering. That's what happens with anything off the beaten path. Doesn't bother me too much, I'm somewhat grateful when I want to nab an album and I can still find a copy in-store since my interests do lean toward those off-center artists that aren't marketed very well. And since people aren't trying to find better music on their own, I usually get a few months of that "in the know" feeling before enough buzz builds that those artists catch fire (e.g. > Glenn Lewis, Dwele, Raheem DeVaughn, Ab). Folks aren't ready yet for more D'Angelo, just like they wouldn't have been ready for James River in 2005. Not enough vocoder saturation on the radio yet, only a mere 6 out of 7 songs.

However, it isn't all the public's fault there was no new D'Angelo album to cop in 2005 (though Lyrical Odyssey 1.3 was a nice substitute). Many of the delays/setbacks fall on the innovator himself. True to iconic artist fashion, he teeters the line between immortality and self-destruction daily. I'll let you read the article yourself to find out what all D'Angelo has been up to and what he is/isn't up to currently. For good measure though, they put THAT video frame by frame across the top of the article. Enjoy.

(Source: David Peisner/Spin Magazine) [Spin Magazine: Body & Soul]

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