D’Angelo has broken his “silence” for the first time in ten years recently, sitting down with talkback show host Tavis Smiley for a rare and incredibly personal conversation. Discussing everything from what he tries to convey with the upper register of his voice, the pair’s shared experiences with Pentecostal faith, Prince‘s and Curtis Mayfield‘s influence on him and so much more, the half hour interview provided a different insight into one of music’s greatest icons.
Having been notably absent from the press, the urgency to get a D’Angelo interview was stepped up tenfold when he surprise-released his much anticipated but much unexpected follow up to his 2000 album Voodoo, Black Messiah. He eventually sat down with Rolling Stone, but there is an air of intimacy with this TV interview that cannot be beaten. Smiley asks serious and considered questions, and D’Angelo is completely responsive and up for a conversation.
On the topic of Black Messiah and the messages it contains, D’Angelo said, “Black Messiah is, I think, the most sociopolitical stuff I’ve done on record. I think in lieu of everything that’s been going—the sign of the times, right—something needs to be said. There’s so few doing that right now, and that was funny to me because there’s so much going on. The Black Lives Matter movement is going on, young black men and women are getting killed for nothing. I’ve always been a big reader and fan of history, and I love the Black Panthers. … I’m not trying to be like a poster child or anything of the movement, but definitely a voice as a black man—as a concerned black man and as a father, as well.”
From asking about Black Messiah to his belief that Yahweh put something in his heart “for the world to hear”, to discussing how he developed and discovered his own sound, Smiley and D’Angelo shift through a vast array of important topics for a truly great conversation.