28 Days of Black Joy: The Imminent Return of D'Angelo

Illustration for article titled 28 Days of Black Joy: The Imminent Return of D'Angelo
Photo: Mark Metcalfe (Getty Images)

He’s not always there when you call, but Michael Eugene Archer—better known by his stage name D’Angelo—is sure as hell always on time.

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We first became acquaintances back in 1994 when he penned the anthemic “You Will Know” for the Jason’s Lyric soundtrack, but we truly established our unbreakable rapport with the 2000 release of Voodoo—an album that would upend everything I thought I knew about neo-soul. Yes, Brown Sugar was my shit too, but his sophomore release couldn’t have come at a better time.

I was mere months into signing my soul away to the United States Air Force, and like so many others who struggled to adapt to the rigors of military life, I wasn’t exactly sold on my decision. Should I have gone to college? Am I ready to sacrifice my life for a country that hates my kind? Even in hindsight, those and other questions remain unanswered. But during those endless nights in my Keesler Air Force Base dorm room, songs like “Send It On” and “Greatdayndamornin’/Booty” delivered me from insurmountable doubt and uncertainty.

Black Messiah came during another moment of major upheaval: two weeks prior to its arrival, my son was born. And as a first-time parent who was still acclimating to life in Los Angeles, I was consumed by the weight of inadequacy. Can I do this? And how in the hell can I be a father when I’ve never really felt like I’ve even had one? That’s when Black Messiah stepped in and provided the soundtrack to my early stages of fatherhood. I’d play it in the car while my son bounced around in his car seat and it wrapped me in its arms on those lonely nights I spent watching my son sleep from a baby monitor—hundreds of miles away.

And now, as I join millions of others in spending our precious daylight on staving off crippling depression and anxiety, D’Angelo has returned once more to right what this pandemic has wronged. During our 27 years of trials and tribulations, he’s never failed me before. So I have the utmost confidence that whatever blessings await us on Feb. 27—be it Verzuz, new music or whatever else—it will be exactly what we all need during these perilous times.

Welcome home, family. You’re right on time.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for y'all to stop putting sugar in grits.

DISCUSSION

Dollar, Dollar Bill

I’m skeptical about whatever is going on with Verzuz but the show from the Black Messiah tour that I saw at the Fox in Oakland was one of the very best I’ve ever seen. The room was shaking so much that I was worried about him literally bringing the house down. A lot is made of his influences and projected onto him (and he plays the part, to some extent) but it was the closest I’ve gotten to a taste of what Marvin or Curtis or Sly or James or Prince or Jimi might have been like in person.