New York (PRWEB) December 8, 2008
Contrary to various media reports, producer, composer, performer, D'Angelo has not signed with Sean "Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy Records. Both gentlemen hold one another in the highest regard, however the stories circulating in the press are false, according to D'Angelo's manager, Lindsay Guion. D'Angelo is signed to the RCA Music Group (J Records), a unit of Sony Music Entertainment, Inc.
D'Angelo is currently in the studio putting the finishing touches on his eagerly anticipated full-length album, scheduled for release in Spring 2009. Thus far, he has recorded with Raphael Saadiq, Q Tip and Roy Hargrove. D'Angelo is expected to collaborate with Prince, Cee-Lo and other stellar talents. A single entitled, "I Found My Smile Again" was recently released and is available exclusively on iTunes.
Whenever there's a discussion about the constantly-evolving pantheon of soul music, the spirited conversation will invariably be whittled down to a needle-point, and the discourse dominated by several titans whose amazing artistry and larger than life persona has served as a working blueprint for those who would dare follow in their proverbial footsteps. Any modestly informed exchange inevitably lands at the doorstep of Marvelous Marvin Gaye who dominated the 60's and 70's with poignant compositions of social commentary that remains as relevant today as they were before the legendary studio sessions wrapped, and the prolific powerhouse Prince Rogers Nelson who owned the 80's and early 90's with classic hits that explored the eternal dichotomy of Spirituality vs. Sexuality, while bulldozing through the color-barrier that previously existed at MTV during its infancy. The very next sentence uttered has to firmly steer the focus solely to the Dynamo-Also-Known-As D'Angelo, whose heralded arrival as a musical prodigy on the soul music landscape with an instantly recognizable musical styling and trademark vocal affectations, birthed a whole new movement in black music.
Moviegoers were the first to be treated to D'Angelo's remarkable talents as a songwriter, composer, and musician via his contribution to the 1994 hit film Jason's Lyric starring then-starlet Jada Pinkett Smith and future Oscar award winning actor Forrest Whitaker. D'Angelo truly served up one of the most satisfying appetizers to date before the release of a debut album, when he penned the uplifting male rite-of-passage anthem "U Will Know," which boasted an All-Star line-up of all-male R&B heavy hitters, including but not limited to Brian McKnight, Usher, R.Kelly, Joe, Keith Sweat, Boyz II Men, Tevin Campbell, Raphael Saadiq, and the late great Gerald Levert. D'Angelo chose not to feature his own vocals, but instead just tickled the ivories and served as a New-Jack choir director in the accompanying music video and the memorable live performance at the Soul Train Music Awards. The song was a smash and D'Angelo had yet to sing a single note.
With the stage set thanks to the runaway success of "U Will Know" and industry insiders abuzz following several highly-touted showcases, D'Angelo was indeed ready for his close-up. He set the summer of 1995 ablaze with the provocative scorcher, Brown Sugar, his debut single from an album of the same of name. The track didn't remotely sound like any of the producer driven hits pervasive on Black radio at the time, all featuring drum machines and endlessly looped samples. Instead, as soon as the song begins and his buttery falsetto ad-libs play cat and mouse with the organ refrain, and as authentic musical instruments produce the heavenly groove, you instantly feel you've been allowed beyond the velvet rope into an intimate nightclub featuring Roy Ayers. However, as the verses unfurl, not only is there D'Angelo's distinctly soulful tenor to feast on, but the delivery is much aligned with the flow of many MC's of the day. The Brett-Ratner helmed music video presented D'Angelo as an organ player on lead vocals in jazz trio in a "cigarette-smoke filled" throwback nightclub setting, all the while looking the very essence of Hip-hop edginess rocking cornrows and a swagger that would make him an overnight sex symbol. To further blur and ultimately blend the lines of the seemingly mutually exclusive camps of the mature R&B audience and the rising Hip-hop generation, Brown Sugar was interpreted as a traditional love song about a femme-fatale by the former and as an ode to the joys of pot by the latter. In one fell swoop, D'Angelo appeared to have done the impossible, bridging the chasm that existed in black music at the time by virtue of his artistry and iconic image.
The follow-up single "Cruisin'" was a perfect vehicle for D'Angelo to pay homage to a soul legend and musical influence, Smoky Robinson, while making the classic song palatable for a whole new generation unfamiliar with 70's soul. The third time was indeed the charm with the release of "Lady", a musical collaboration with former Tony Toni Tone front-man, and renaissance soul man, Raphael Saadiq. The song featured what was quickly becoming D'Angelo's signature sound: an undeniable mid-tempo groove with a heavy front-and-center bass line, prominent piano, and gloriously intricate vocal harmonies. The song became his most successful to date, becoming a top 10 pop hit and pushing album sales north of two million in the U.S. alone. The musical partnership forged between D'Angelo and Saadiq would prove to be a successful pairing many times in the future.
There was a five year hiatus between Brown Sugar and his sophomore effort, but there would not be a drought in musical offerings. D'Angelo's talents were in high demand by a host of music artists and the film industry, and he graciously obliged, producing some of the most beloved material in his illustrious catalogue. He and newcomer Erykah Badu teamed up for the dreamy re-working of the Marvin and Tammi Terrell classic "Your Precious Love" for the High School High soundtrack (1996). Erykah went on to become his female counterpart for this new chapter in soul music. Diehard Prince fans were gleefully stunned when D'Angelo covered the obscure B-side "She's Always in My Hair" to perfection for the Scream 2 soundtrack in 1997, just as old school heads were treated to an arguably definitive remake of "Heaven Must Be Like This" by funk pioneers Ohio Players for the Down in the Delta soundtrack in 1998. One of the most stunning productions delivered during D'Angelo's "sabbatical" that closed the decade on a lofty high note, was a colossally celestial coupling with Lauryn Hill on "Nothing Even Matters" for the seminal album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998).
D'Angelo helped to usher in the new millennium with his highly anticipated second opus Voodoo (2000) that effectively lay to rest any fears of the all too common sophomore slump; rather, he delivered on the promise of Brown Sugar exponentially. The single "Untitled (How Does It Feel)", an obvious tribute to the classic slow jams created by His Purple Highness, presented D'Angelo at the apex of his crooning game. However, it was the music video that caused pure pandemonium, featuring D'Angelo as a shirtless Adonis that catapulted him into the stratosphere and firmly cemented his place as the reigning King of Soul. The music video was nominated for four MTV Video Music Awards, "Untitled" itself went on to garner a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Voodoo seized the trophy for Best R&B Album.
To learn more about D'Angelo visit Myspace.com/dangelo.