D’Angelo   Leave a comment

Michael Eugene Archer[1][2][3] (born February 11, 1974), better known by his stage name D’Angelo, is an American R&B and neo soul singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer. He is known for his production and songwriting talents as much as for his vocal abilities, and often draws comparisons to his influences, Marvin Gaye, and Prince. D’Angelo was one of the most influential artists during the rise of the neo-soul movement.

 Early life

D’Angelo was born Michael Eugene Archer, in Richmond, Virginia on February 11, 1974, to a Pentecostal preacher father, and a mother he described as “powerful.” He was raised in an entirely Pentecostal family. Strict, they forbade interaction with other church members. His time deep within Pentecostalism left Archer with several notable memories, including seeing his 9-year-old-brother receive the Holy Ghost. He would later recall one of his memories as a 12-year-old:

“I saw this one lady, she used to catch demons. She used to always catch ’em. And one night at this revival in the mountains, she caught a demon. She was going out of her way to disrupt. She ripped the Bible apart. She was being sexual. Stripping. Foaming at the mouth. She was speaking an evil tongue. I had never heard it before, but I knew it was evil. And this brother from the choir, he and the evangelist tried to get it out of her–to exorcise her, and she was screaming, “No! No!” She crawled out of there on all fours. There was a graveyard out back, and she was jumping on the hoods of cars. And the whole church went out and made a circle around her and started praying and singing. Then my grandfather laid hands on her. And it was over.”
—D’Angelo, Vibe Magazine, 2000[4]

Archer’s musical talents were discovered very early on. At 3, he was spotted by his 10 year-old brother, Luther, playing the house piano.

“Mike was three – and it was not banging,” Luther says with awe. “It was a full-fledged song, with melody and bass line. Shortly thereafter, he started playing for my father’s church. My father had a Hammond organ, and he had to slide down to reach the pedals, but he did that very well.”[5]
—Luther Archer

 Music career

 1991–1995: Career beginnings and Brown Sugar

D’Angelo signed a record deal with EMI Records in 1991 after catching the attention of record executives with a demo tape.[6][7] He penned the hit song “U Will Know” on the Jason’s Lyric soundtrack. It was performed by Black Men United for the Jason’s Lyric motion picture soundtrack. Shortly after, he was signed by Gary Harris and he began recording his debut album for EMI records.

Brown Sugar was released in June 1995. Though sales were sluggish at first, the album was eventually a hit, due in large part to “Lady,” a Top Ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, peaking at #10. The album earned platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America, following sales in excess of one million copies in the U.S.,[8][9] while its total sales have been estimated within the range of 1.5 million to over two million copies.[6][10][11][12][13][14][15][note 1] The album helped give commercial visibility to the burgeoning neo soul movement of the 1990s, along with debut albums by Maxwell, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill. The album was a critical success as well, and appeared on many critics’ “best of” lists for the year.

 1996–2000: Sabbatical period and Voodoo

Following his debut album’s success, D’Angelo went into a four and a half year absence from the music scene and releasing solo work. His recordings for soundtracks included Belly (“Devil’s Pie”), frequently singing covers like “Girl You Need a Change of Mind” (Eddie Kendricks, Get on the Bus), “She’s Always in My Hair” (Prince, Scream 2) and “Heaven Must Be Like This” (The Ohio Players, Down in the Delta), as well as appearing on Lauryn Hill‘s landmark The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill on the duet “Nothing Even Matters”.

The much-delayed follow-up to Brown Sugar, Voodoo, was finally released in 2000. It debuted at #1 and went on to win two Grammy Awards, one for Best R&B Album, and the other for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. The lead single, 1999’s “Left & Right” (featuring Method Man and Redman) did well, but it was the second single, “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” (a tribute to artist Prince), that became a huge R&B hit buoyed by an innovative yet infamous video featuring a nude D’Angelo from his face to his hips while singing the song. The video was nominated for 4 MTV Video Music Awards and currently ranks #44 in VH1‘s list of the 100 Greatest Videos. He also performed “Be Here” (with Raphael Saadiq) from Saadiq’s album Instant Vintage.

After the release D’Angelo embarked on what would become one of the most fabled series of live soul shows in history, “The Voodoo Tour.” Consisting of a live group entitled “the Soultronics,” (presumed to have been assembled by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots) which engulfed arena-size stages with various dancers and instrument players, it was one of the most attended shows of the year. The tour was taken all around the world, one of the most notable performances being the Free Jazz Festival in Brazil. The live show was a thinly-disguised homage to Prince’s late 80’s shows, in its grandeur and conceptual stage set-up & setlist. Slum Village (then in its original line-up of Jay Dee, Baatin & T3) opened for D’Angelo on several dates, and soul-tinged R&B singer Anthony Hamilton sang backup in the band.

In 2002, Q magazine named him in their list of the “50 Bands To See Before You Die”, and in 2003 Voodoo was ranked at number 488 on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Pitchfork Media rated it at #44 on their list of the best albums of the 2000s.

 2001–2011: Second sabbatical and James River

Since 2000, D’Angelo has conducted no interviews, live performances or released any new material, save for minor collaborations with other artists, and sporadic unfinished demos leaked to the internet. A follow up album to Voodoo has been rumored and speculated for years. D’Angelo’s two studio albums had garnered much commercial and critical acclaim, and have been cited as “two of the most excellent and singular R&B albums of the past 15 years”.[16] Rock critic Robert Christgau has dubbed him as “R&B Jesus”.[17]

After a long period of inactivity, D’Angelo made guest appearances on several albums, including releases by J Dilla, Common,[18] Red Hot & Riot and The RH Factor. Red Hot & Riot was released in 2002 by the Red Hot Organization as a compilation CD in tribute to the music and work of Nigerian musician, Fela Kuti. D’Angelo performed on a remake of the Fela Kuti classic, “Water No Get Enemy,” with fellow hip-hop and R&B artists, Macy Gray, The Soultronics, Nile Rodgers, Roy Hargrove, and Fela Kuti‘s son, Femi Kuti. All proceeds from Red Hot & Riot were donated to charities devoted to raising AIDS awareness and fighting the disease. In August 2006 he began collaborations with Common and Q-Tip. He also entered discussions with Jermaine Dupri on how to market what appears to be a forthcoming LP, though the official news of a release has not been made public yet.[19] Although music for his own album has yet to materialize, D’Angelo was featured on the song “Imagine”, by Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, from his album Tha Blue Carpet Treatment, released on November 21, 2006. On April 17, 2007 a new song called “Really Love” was leaked on Triple J Radio in Australia by Questlove[20] D’Angelo also had a guest appearance on Common‘s 2007 album, Finding Forever on the track, “So Far to Go”, a song that first appeared on J Dilla’s 2006 release, The Shining. After a 2007 court proceeding, he confirmed very briefly that new music is “in the works” although the album remained untitled.[21]

On June 24, 2008, Virgin EMI released an enhanced greatest hits CD/DVD which will include top hits, rare tracks & seven previously unreleased music videos from D’Angelo. According to the press release, the new collection is titled The Best So Far… because D’Angelo is far from finished, currently writing and recording his highly anticipated next musical chapter.” There will also be a digital album, video downloads, and ringtones available on the day of its release.[22] In November 2008, D’Angelo’s collaboration with Q-Tip was officially confirmed with the release of the Q-Tip album The Renaissance which features D’Angelo on the track Believe.

The new album was originally slated for release in 2009. D’Angelo revealed that the album would be titled “James River” and that Prince would work heavily on the disc. The collaboration was to have a list reading like a who’s who in the R&B, neo soul and funk genres. The year came and went with no album being released. D’Angelo’s manager said in a brief statement that “‘James River,’ D’Angelo’s first studio effort in nearly nine years, is also sporting a collaboration with Gnarls Barkley’s Cee Lo Green. Green joins Raphael Saadiq, Mark Ronson, and Roy Hargrove, who have already contributed to D’Angelo’s forthcoming album.”

In the early part of 2010, D’Angelo was rumored to be in the studio hard at work on his long-delayed third album.[23] On January 29, 2010, an incomplete song titled “1000 Deaths” was leaked on to the internet and uploaded to YouTube claiming it was to possibly be from the James River album; however, after four days it was deleted due to a copyright claim by D’Angelo’s publishing company. Although official website went offline in November 2009 in February 2010 it started linking to D’Angelo’s official MySpace Page with a banner reading ‘Album & Tour Summer 2010’. After his June arrest in New York City his MySpace page stopped showing the ‘Album and Tour Summer 2010’ banner and one day later his management issued a statement saying that he entered a plea of not guilty and is contesting the allegations made against him. Erykah Badu tweeted that he visited her in the studio while working on his own album at the Electric Lady Studios in New York.[24] His manager’s MySpace page stated “D’Angelo’s album is slated for release late summer 2010” until early 2011. At this current time however, his manager’s MySpace mentions that “D’Angelo’s album is slated for release Fall 2011”.[25] but delays in the album release are suspected.

In late May 2010, various online record stores began listing an album called ‘Interpretations: Remakes’ for sale.[26] Most of the listed tracks have been widely available for some time, via CD or MP3, and it is not clear if this is an official release, as no announcement was made. The cover art is the same as 2008’s “Best So Far” compilation album. Later in the year the website of Russell Elevado had claimed that D’Angelo had returned to New York for three months to finish his album, stating: “The time has finally come again to go in the studio with D’Angelo. starting the last week of August and for the next 3 months we’re going in to complete overdubs and do final mixing on a few songs. Wish us luck…more updates to come.”[27]

No new announcements were made anywhere online or in the press about the album until December 6, 2010, when a company named “101 Distribution” quietly released an import album overseas titled “James River (Album Prelude)”, featuring just under an hour of snippets of new songs, alternate versions of others and jam sessions, listing as the official first song off the album as “1000 Deaths”. It was released in the United States on December 28 on Amazon‘s website in limited quantities for over US$ 25, immediately going out of print only 24 hours later. On several websites where the album is being sold it has been claimed that the James River album will finally have a 2011 release, but nothing else is known about 101 Distributors or the validity of their statement. It has also been claimed that the album is a bootleg recording of stolen material and is not an official D’Angelo release of any sort.

In late April 2011, Russell Elevado again posted an update regarding the upcoming album on his website.

“Since my last post i have continued sessions with D’Angelo. we’ve just finished up 5 months of recording. D has been doing vocals and guitars and we’ve had Pino Palladino back in for some more bass tracks. Also ?uestlove came in to jam with D and Pino. they’ve finally reunited after 7 or 8 years (lost track how long really). we’re taking a few months break while i take care of some other projects that have been on the back burner.” [28]
—Russell Elevado – April 2011

On October 7, RCA Music Group announced it was disbanding J Records along with Arista Records and Jive Records. With the shutdown, D’Angelo (and all other artists previously signed to these three labels) will release his future material on the RCA Records brand. [29] [30]

In late October 2011, two concerts were scheduled for January 30th and 31st, 2012 at club Paradiso in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Tickets went on sale on November 5th and were sold out within 24 hours. [31]

In an interview with Pitchfork Media, drummer ?uestlove said the album was “97% finished” and D’Angelo was just finishing his lyrics. [32]

2012: The D-Tour

2012 is the year of D’Angelo’s awaited return. He scheduled 11 concerts in Europe from January 26th to February 12th in London, Paris, Stockholm, Oslo, Copenaghen, Amsterdam and Zurich. The band includes Pino Palladino, Chris “Daddy” Dave, Jef Lee Johnson, Kendra Foster, Jermaine Holmes, Ray Angry, Jesse Johnson of The Time and others.

He performed his hits and previewed 4 new songs. ‘Sugah Daddy’, ‘The Charade’, ‘Ain’t That Easy’ and ‘In Another Life’, all of which prove that D’Angelo has matched and possibly even exceeded the standard of his previous work.

 Personal life

In the 1990s he dated soul singer Angie Stone and helped produce her debut album “Black Diamond” in 1999. They have a son, also named Michael, born in 1998.

 Legal issues

D’Angelo’s critical and commercial success has been dramatically impeded in recent years owing to his descent into drug addiction as well as alcoholism:

In January 2005, D’Angelo was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, and driving while intoxicated. He pleaded guilty to the DUI and marijuana charge then, on April 13, was given a fine, suspended sentence also his driver’s license was revoked. On September 12, he received a three-year suspended sentence on the cocaine possession charge. On September 19, just a week after being sentenced for cocaine possession, D’Angelo was critically injured in Powhatan County, Virginia, when the SUV he was driving hit a fence, ejecting him from the vehicle. He was not wearing a seatbelt.

In August 2006, D’Angelo is confirmed to have exited a rehabilitation stint on the island of Antigua.[33]

On August 10, 2007, D’Angelo was sent to court on charges relating to the car accident. These charges included reckless driving and driving with a suspended license. He pleaded guilty to these charges and was ordered to pay a $1,250 fine, in addition to forfeiting his license for 15 months. He also received a nine-month suspended jail sentence.

Early on the morning of March 6, 2010, he was arrested and charged with solicitation after asking a female undercover police officer for oral sex at the intersection of Greenwich and Horatio streets in the West Village neighborhood of New York City, New York


Posted February 19, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Uncategorized

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