Return of the Black Messiah of Groove: A Review of D’Angelo’s New Album


By dmingus

Trapped inside the groove, I didn’t like that so much. He sang with that shrill voice that endears you to a man as long as that  man’s intention is fostering clarity and your complete understanding. Outside of that,  you don’t have to understand everything poppa say as long as you get the point. That’s where reading the lyrics came in.

 The music makes some sense other than bop your head–leading me to believe D’Angelo gonna be as cool as he wanna be. Corn-rolled, soul outback, skinny or fat, D’Angelo makes music that incites our sensualities, moaning our individual stories. We can all play in his sunshine ’cause honestly it’s some cool music. The background sounds of the spine. Makes me think of things like: So do we all come from Africa? There really were dinosaurs? Are most UFO sightings in the Midwest? Oh, I gotta bob my head to this because this is a groove.

See, back in the groove. I don’t like that so much.

Crawling through a systematic maze
And it pains to demise
Pain in our eyes
Strain of drownin’, wading into your lies
Degradation so loud that you can’t hear the sound of our cries (doo, doo)
All the dreamers have gone to the side of the road which we will lay on
Inundated by media, virtual mind fucks in streams

[CHORUS]

All we wanted was a chance to talk
‘Stead we only got outlined in chalk
Feet have bled a million miles we’ve walked
Revealing at the end of the day, the charade

This is the opening of the song “Charade.” The inverted guitar sounds of longing. I didn’t make out a single word of it.

 It’s as if D’Angelo is a souleptic who succumbs to fits of soul styling that render the story an athletic event only our human umph can make out. But that heartbeat groove was there. The music bubbled as if it was an admission that had to be told. Ohhh, that groove. That church mother falsetto leading the walk to sunshine. D’Angelo makes the music our bodies produce as we go uphill.

It grows for sure. A porch gospel, this version of happiness is home to everyone who could remember being loved as a child. Having fun and friendship. Black Family. Hearing a story and being undeniably apathetic because we all desire something that we do and do not have. That’s why D’Angleo’s grooves are not that interesting to me, however thrilling and fun they may feel.

With everything I am, I am glad he is around because I need to hear a church do something other than capitalize on guilt rather than the fun of us. The pledge to laughter, the physicality of being physically near someone you trust. That church is D’Angelo. His choice of smoke, coke, drinks whatever, his gospel reminds me of my body–our bodies.

But that’s music. Back bone music. That standing bass, sudden shifts (neck bone to the collar-bone to the knee-bone ain’t gon’ ever change) just like my life bending through situations and mind sets. I need to hear you, D’Angelo. But if you are what I think you are, then your voice is whatever instrument you be at that moment. Your voice simply cries in the wind–bringing a melancholy hope-groove with it that can be heard in living bones. If I am right, then let us thank God for lyric books. Everything else is up to how far you can go with him.

I went to the lyric booklet and became a little more forgiving of the D’Angelese dialect, less digitized, analog production on Black Messiah. Is it music? Who the fuck answers shit like that?  I’m trying not to do that.

Performed live, the album is probably going to be jarring because we thought whatever was great about late 70’s, early 80’s music was dead. It will probably feel like “hey maybe I should change my living room into a lounge, have a salon or something. Maybe I should introduce a child to the spirit of 70’s soul. Or dance in my house and make a grimaced face while rhythmically bending at the kitchen sink while cleaning or prepping a meal.”

D’Angelo is a beautiful musician–thump dreamy and whimsical with his melancholy. He has a bass line, a standing bass which seems to want for nothing other than to rhythmically worship the heart beat. Expecting anything else is like asking the legs to do what the tongue does.

Groove.

P.S. For all those of you who don’t speak “D’Angelese,” this might help:

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