D'Angelo's 'Black Messiah' Is Available To Stream Right Now

Listen To D'Angelo's First Album In 14 Years
Singer D'Angelo (born Michael Eugene Archer) performs on stage at the Aire Crown Theater, Chicago, Illinois, April 4, 2000. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)
Singer D'Angelo (born Michael Eugene Archer) performs on stage at the Aire Crown Theater, Chicago, Illinois, April 4, 2000. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

After 14 years out of the spotlight, D'Angelo released "Black Messiah," a new album, which debuted with little promotion at a New York City listening session. Featuring 12 new tracks, it arrived at midnight on Monday, available on iTunes and to stream on Spotify (below). The debut single, "Sugah Daddy," premiered on Sunday.

"Black Messiah" features lyrics from Q-Tip and Kendra Foster, and backing by Questlove, James Gadsen and Pino Palladino. In an introduction for the album (see it all at Pitchfork), D'Angelo wrote, "'Black Messiah' is a hell of a name for an album. It can easily be misunderstood. Many will think it's about religion. Some will jump to the conclusion that I'm calling myself a Black Messiah. For me, the title is about all of us. It's about the world. It's about an idea we can all aspire to. We should all aspire to be a Black Messiah." He references Ferguson and Occupy Wall Street, but not every song on the album is politically-based. It's all sexy as hell, like his previous work.

D'Angelo's last record, "Voodoo," came out in 2000. Since then, critics and fans have been curious of his whereabouts. A 2012 GQ profile called "The Return of D'Angelo" focused on his struggle with addiction, and he's been teasing "Black Messiah" for at least a few months. (His manager teased a new album in an interview with Billboard back in June.)

Listen to the whole thing now:

Before You Go

Tapestry (1971) - Carole King
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Having spent her teens and 20s co-writing iconic hits like "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," wunderkind King released Tapestry, her second solo record, the day after turning 29. The sonic equivalent of a really good cup of coffee, it went on to win the 1972 Grammy for Album of the Year, and has sold more than 25 million copies since its debut. Not bad for a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn.Don’t own a copy? Trust us—your sister does. And your daughter. And probably your mom, too.
Born to Run (1975) - Bruce Springsteen
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From the sweet opening notes of "Thunder Road" to the echoing end chords of "Jungleland," Springsteen’s monster third album pulls off a delicate balancing act: It’s orchestral but never overwhelming, momentous but intimate, and profound, but never pompous.

Part of that comes from Bruce’s distinct, blue-collar lyrics, in turns joyful and melancholic. And part of that comes from the unparalleled E Street Band, whose contributions cannot be overstated—especially pianist Roy Bittan and saxophonist Clarence Clemons. That’s him supporting Bruce on Born to Run’s iconic cover, and when he passed in 2011, Springsteen eulogized: "He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music." R.I.P., Big Man.
Folsom Prison (1968) - Johnny Cash
Rebounding from drug abuse and looking for a comeback, making an album at California’s Folsom State Prison just made sense for The Man in Black. The penitentiary was the subject of his 1955 tune, "Folsom Prison Blues," and its inmates were among his biggest fans. So, in January of 1968, he gathered Carl Perkins, June Carter, and many more, and went to work, playing two live shows and committing 16 tracks to record.

Needless to say, At Folsom Prison was a hit. In fact, the album was so successful, Cash followed it up in 1969 with At San Quentin, which was nominated for Album of the Year and included one of Cash’s signature tunes, "A Boy Named Sue," written by poet Shel Silverstein.
I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You (1967) - Aretha Franklin
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Throughout the early ‘60s, Aretha Franklin was an up-and-comer—a well-regarded R&B vocalist with a few semi-successful singles. Then, a few days before turning 25, she released I Never Loved a Man, a murderer’s row of soulful tracks that she belted the hell out of, lead off by the enduring "Respect." The record went to #2 on the charts, and kicked off a string of albums—six in three years—that would cement Franklin’s reputation as the era’s greatest singer, a title she would hold until her goddaughter, Whitney Houston, came along.
Exile on Main Street (1972) - The Rolling Stones
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Sticky Fingers had more hits and Let it Bleed sold better, but Exile, the Stones' 12th American studio LP, is their fully realized masterpiece. Hugely influenced by American blues and country music—tracks like "Shake Your Hips" and "Sweet Black Angel" wouldn’t be out of place on CMT—the 67-minute double album is a rollicking honky tonk of a good time. It may have helped that guitarist Keith Richards was on massive amounts of drugs during recording. (Or maybe not.)

And hey, if "Tumbling Dice" isn’t the one of the best rock-and-roll songs ever written (if not the very best), we don’t know what is.
Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970) - Simon and Garfunkel
A massive smash in terms of both sales and critical reception, the final studio album from the Queens folk duo did everything right, from the soaring chorus and magnificent production of the title track to the simple sweetness of its closer, "Song for the Asking." And while the lion’s share of the credit goes to Paul Simon, who wrote and composed almost every tune, Art Garfunkel deserves a hand for his gentle harmonies and lilting vocals—imperative to the LP’s overall sound.

A sad postscript: Bridge Over Troubled Water cemented Simon and Garfunkel’s place in music history, but at the cost of their partnership. Their relationship grew tense over the year it took to record, and they broke up shortly after its release.
Songs in the Key of Life (1976) - Stevie Wonder
Few musicians are more productive, proficient, or profound than Stevie Wonder was in his mid-20s. And while Talking Book and Innervisions could have easily appeared anywhere on this list, the sprawling, dynamic Songs in the Key of Life ultimately gets the nod. Joyous and thoughtful, it’s Wonder’s magnum opus, an 85-minute treatise on love, family, community, salvation, and the power of music. Quite deservedly, it won Stevie his third Album of the Year Grammy in four years.

P.S. The thing moves. Just listen to "As" or "Sir Duke" and try not to shake what God gave you.
Pet Sounds (1966) - The Beach Boys
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Widely considered one of the best pop albums of all time, Pet Sounds is billed as a Beach Boys record, though it’s almost entirely the work of the band’s resident eccentric genius, Brian Wilson. After suffering a nervous breakdown on tour in 1964, Wilson retreated to the studio to A) perfect his layered, astoundingly detailed songs, and B) do a whole lot of drugs.

The result wasn’t received well at first—even by the other Beach Boys. "Mike Love famously didn't like the album," says Brian Ives, producer at Radio.com. "But Paul McCartney did; it inspired him to start work on Sgt. Pepper." Audiences warmed up over time, and today, Pet Sounds is a trippy, gorgeous cultural touchstone.

"And come on," Ives adds. "'God Only Knows' is one of the loveliest songs of all time."
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) - The Beatles
"In which the Beatles take on a new identity, and are still great," says Ives. "It's one of the first concept albums, and the album that arguably paved the way for high-minded progressive rock." The band had dabbled in psychedelia with Revolver, but Sgt. Pepper is the culmination of their experimentation, a tour de force of evocative lyrics, daring arrangements, Eastern spirituality, and—you guessed it—drugs.
Not only that, "It contains one of John Lennon's finest moments with 'A Day in the Life,'" Ives says. "And, in hindsight, one of Paul's funniest: 'When I'm Sixty-Four.'" Another Album of the Year, it spent 15 weeks at No. 1. You definitely have it on vinyl somewhere.
Rumours (1977) - Fleetwood Mac
What album could possibly usurp Sgt. Pepper for our top spot? Here’s a hint: Take two impossibly attractive American singers, add three blues-minded Brits, give them a ton of cocaine, and make sure they all sleep with each other.

The result? Rumours—a hands-down gem that, 37 years later, still sounds like it could have been made yesterday.

"It may have been painful for the members of Fleetwood Mac, but it was great for everyone who ever listened to this album (which is almost everyone in America for at least two decades after its release)," says Ives. Between classics like “The Chain” and “Gold Dust Woman,” he says, "The definitive '70s FM radio record holds up remarkably well, and their current tour has been a can't-miss affair (no pun intended)."

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