It’s still a bit surreal to be listening to a new D’Angelo album in 2014, but thankfully we’re here. Like most people, I’ve spent the last two days absorbing the new album and trying to figure out the commentary, musicians, inspirations and everything else that makes the jigsaw puzzle that is a D’Angelo album. Chairman Mao recently sat down with D’Angelo for RBMA Radio to discuss the music influences for his Black Messiah album.
They spoke for about an hour discussing everyone from Sly Stone, to James Brown, to Prince, to Jimi Hendrix, to The Gap Band and many more. The interview is also sprinkled with a fantastic playlist of songs from the aforementioned artists to give to the listener a closer peak into D’Angelo’s mind state in the creation process for Black Messiah. Below are some excerpts:
On the first time he heard Prince:
“I was five years old. “I Wanna Be Your Lover” had come out, and it was a big hit. When that album came out, it was just huge. He really, literally, was the talk of the town. Everybody was wondering, “Who is this guy? Is he a guy? Is it a girl?” No one really knew who it was. I remember we had the album, and my brothers were just enamored by this guy. They told me, “He plays everything, he writes everything, he’s singing everything”, so I was hooked from then on. I learned how to play every song on that album, note for note, at five years old.”
On Joni Mitchell’s influence:
“I got hip to Joni Mitchell through Prince. I found out that Prince was a huge Joni Mitchell fan, so I listened to some of her work. My favorite Joni Mitchell album is Blue. Her lyrics, her purity as an artist… she’s very significant.”
You can stream D’Angelo’s RBMA Radio Fireside Chat below: