The shock that R&B Jesus actually returned to perform music has subsided. D’Angelo has even been doing press here and there. However, he hasn’t done a television interview. That changed when he sat down with Tavis Smiley for his first in 10 years.
The first of two parts is currently available for your viewing pleasure. The talk is more esoteric than what you typically see in eye-opening comeback interview. Smiley and D’Angelo, both being from a Pentecostal background, spend a good portion of the interview connecting spirituality to black culture in addition to discussing influences (Prince and George Clinton) and the inspiration behind Black Messiah. Read some of the key quotes below.
On religious influence:
“It totally informs everything I do. When I go on stage, I bring that with me. Everyone has their own way of reaching that place. But my way has always been that. When I come on the stage with that authority, with that source, there’s nothing that could touch that. A lot of the time before we come on stage … me and the Vanguard, we pray. Before we start a prayer, I sing an old spiritual song from way back in the woods.”
“My good friend Kamaal Fareed, Q-Tip, always says that we’re not trying to preach to the converted.”
On getting better during his 14-year absence:
“I’m always writing and learning. It’s about growth — I’m growing as a musician and a guitarist. You never want to be at a place where you feel that you’ve arrived. It’s always an upward incline, that’s what a true artist is supposed to be doing.
“Those are the types of artists I loved. Prince, you never knew what to expect from him from one album to the next.”
On Black Messiah‘s sociopolitical lyrics:
“There’s so few doing that right now, and that was funny to me because there’s so much going on. The Black Lives Matter movement is going on, young black men and women are getting killed for nothing. I’ve always been a big reader and fan of history, and I love the Black Panthers. … I’m not trying to be like a poster child or anything of the movement, but definitely a voice as a black man—as a concerned black man and as a father, as well.”
UPDATE: The second part of the interview is here.
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