The moment we have all been waiting for, the return of ‘Brown Sugar’ himself, R&B singer D’Angelo. This past week, the R&B vet made his was to Brooklyn to give an in-depth interview with Red Bull Music Academy‘s Nelson George at the Brooklyn Museum. Since his first solo album, Voodoo, fans are soaking up his new reappearance.
The VA-bred singer discusses his early days being in a rap group called I.D.U. (Intelligent, Deadly But Unique), journeying to New York to find a record deal and his history of music. The Roots drummer, Questlove (who later partook in the conversation), also added his history with the ‘The Soulquarian’ sleep-over sessions at Electric Lady Studios in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Check out a few excerpts below:
On The Beatles and Prince being one of his inspirations:
I don’t know who wasn’t influenced by them. The thing about them, they were the masters of….and I say Prince too, I loved how Prince was doing it…all these eccentric ideas and they were able to fit it in a simple pop format that could be considered formulaic or whatever, but to be able to fit all of that, your vision into this simple format whether it be a pop song or a 12-bar blues or whatever, I think that’s the challenge and I think they were the best at it.
On his music changing over time:
I feel like it’s expanding and the music itself is expanding. I just think its a different generation, everybody calls it the iPod Nation or what have you, but I think its less segregation of genre, I think. More people are welcome to ‘I don’t give a f*ck if its called this or that’, if it’s good it’s good.
On finding young talented musicians in the church:
The thing about the church is… what I learned, early, is that they used to say ‘Don’t go up there for no form of fashion’, so I guess what that means is listen, we’re up here singing for the Lord so don’t try to be cute, because we don’t care about all that we just want to feel what the spirit is moving through you. That’s the best place to learn that, you know so you shut yourself down and you let whatever’s coming, come through you.
On what other career path he would have chosen if he wasn’t a musician:
I’m scared to say it but you know what everybody back home thinks that this is what I’m going to do. That I’ma take the Al Greene route but I don’t see it but I don’t know I don’t think so…I always looked at when I’m on stage, that the stage is my pulpit and when we’re playing and getting the energy back and feeding it to the crowd and that exchange is happening, that that’s my ministry and I’ve always looked at it like that.
On being tempted to go back and do gospel music:
I’ve definitely want to do a quartet album, I love quartet. I’m still fascinated with that whole world. Before the first European tour, that’s what I did in Richmond.
Check out the insightful conversation below: