Black Messiah


Since I find a way to mention him in nearly every blog post I write, I feel it necessary for me to comment on certain recent developments.

Fans have been waiting very near to 15 years for a follow up to D’Angelo’s landmark album, Voodoo. The follow up has been promised by a myriad of people for about three years, with no real concrete evidence that it was as done as was anecdotally communicated.

Friday night, a trailer on YouTube started hitting pop culture websites. This trailer seemed to herald the official return of D’Angelo with his third album, entitled Black Messiah. Even crazier, there was a picture that immediately started hitting the rounds from Twitter, showing what looks like a very real and official jewel case of the album, with a caption stating December 16th as the release date.

In theory, this is the best music news I could possibly hear. This is the follow up to my #1 favorite album. It’s new music from D’Angelo. But in reality I’m a little nervous.

Here’s why, at the risk of sounding ridiculous for being nervous to listen to an album of music. I’ve lived with Voodoo for 10 years, and my love for its genius has been a really slow burn. There are seasons I’d go to it and listen to nothing else and others where I wouldn’t pick it up for months or even years on end. I don’t remember listening to it at all during my first go-round at University of Iowa, and that was three semesters worth before transferring to Northern Iowa, where I remember listening to it on and off for another six semesters, including one in Spain where I listened to it constantly (Voodoo and Thriller were my albums on heavy rotation).

When I think about follow up albums, I usually expect there to be some sort of thread or connective tissue between it and its predecessor. From what I know of this album, from what I’ve heard about it from the people who have been involved in its creation, that thread might not exist between Black Messiah and Voodoo. And that kind of freaks me out.

What if I listen to this and I think its garbage? There is so much speculation and hype built into this new record and I’ve been waiting for it intently for about four years now. I’m nervous to think that that many years of anticipation would be towards something that I don’t or can’t connect to at all.

And finally, I’m nervous for the first time I listen to it. Granted, this is a feeling I feel often when I think about the “first time” of something media related. I was nervous to watch The Dark Knight for the first time, and to finish The Sopranos. The first time with a new album I’ve been waiting for is always a little nerve-wracking, but tenfold in this case. I distinctly remember the first time listening to albums that have meant a lot to me. I remember exactly where and how I listened to John Mayer’s Continuum, Al Green’s Lay It Down and Kanye West’s Graduation.

And the thing that’s scary about them is once you’re through, you don’t get that feeling back. You don’t get a second first time. This is obviously true with lots of things in life, but that doesn’t diminish my first time jitters. As I go into listening to Black Messiah for the first time, I can only hope to remember that I had to let Voodoo simmer for about half a decade before really realizing what it was. Music is one of those beautiful things that God created to get better with age, like wine or sex. Here’s to another 10 years of digesting this album, and another 15 of waiting for the follow up.

If you’re into teasers/spoilers/previews, here’s all the stuff that’s out.

Red Bull Music Academy dropped the first single last night: “Sugah Daddy”:


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