Plenty of bright musical minds burn out before their time, but some, like retina burn, linger on in one’s peripheries. D’Angelo is one of those acts who, despite being AWOL for over a decade, remains much missed.
The R&B prodigy is responsible for Brown Sugar (1995) and Voodoo (2000), two straight-up classic albums of self-penned, carefully orchestrated neo-soul. Despite finding himself in a fairly unassailable position, D’Angelo was stymied by personal difficulties, and ended up drifting away from music. Thankfully, 2012 has seen the Virginia native heading back out onto the road for a series of comeback gigs. In a revealing new interview with GQ [via Pitchfork], D’Angelo offered some insight into the new record.
According to D’Angelo’s engineer Russell Elevado, D’Angelo has recorded over fifty tracks for the album, which he hopes to whittle down to twelve. D’Angelo’s label are pushing for a pre-September release date, but there’s not certainty that a new album will arrive this year. D’Angelo also weighs in on reports that the album is called James River (it’s not).
There are plenty of fresh revelations about D’Angelo’s difficult decade. The singer describes being hit by an “avalanche of shit” after having released the album: a spiralling cocaine habit, the death of numerous family members and fallouts with resident label Virgin and regular collaborator Questlove. A near-fatal car accident in the 2005 capped off a period of decline for the once mercurial singer.
Having spent time getting clean in Antigua, D’Angelo got back into music (according to Questlove “He can play the shit out of it, and I don’t mean no Lil Wayne shit.”) and got his body back into gear. D’Angelo also reveals that J Dilla’s death in 2006 was the main turning point in his recovery: having had a phone conversation just before his death, D’Angelo “felt like I was going to be next. I ain’t bullshitting. I was scared then”