“Everybody back home thinks that I’m going to take the Al Green route.” – D’Angelo
I referenced D’Angelo‘s spiritual journey in an earlier post. In my opinion, D’Angelo and Prince have faced similar challenges as highly-spiritual secular musicians. At some point in their lives and careers, these artists begin to feel the tension between their beliefs and their music, especially if they’ve incorporated sexuality into their songs.
Singer Al Green felt this tension, and decided to become a preacher and give up his secular music career (although he still performs his R&B hits from time to time). So, hearing D’Angelo say that some expect him to follow suit, I truly believe that he can relate to Prince and Green’s struggle with the sacred and profane.
Marvin Gaye and Little Richard have also experienced that struggle. I’m writing about all of these remarkable and tortured artists in a section of my book. It has been so exciting to research them, and the artists who came before them. Even blues musicians were criticized for playing “the devil’s music.” African American artists have been conflicted about “good” vs. “evil” music for a long, long time. I love studying this topic!
D’Angelo has been top-of-mind because he recently released his first album in 14 years, Black Messiah. Like Prince, his music is rife with spiritual themes, and his latest record is no different. “Prayer” is the most blatantly spiritual track; he sings about the devil’s influence. Prince has tackled the same subject many times in his career.
Compelling music from compelling artists–I live for this stuff!
What is your favorite track on “Black Messiah?”