President George W. Bush had a lot of screw-ups during his eight-year term, but he did do a couple things right. One of them was proclaiming June as Black Music Month on May 31, 2002. June is here,* and to celebrate Black Music Month, I'll be featuring one of my favorite artists each day, sharing my first or most personal memory of them, and explain what their accomplishments are and why I felt they should make the Black Music Month Top 30 list. There will be some oldies, some newbies and some artists you may not know of yet.
Black Music Month Heat Factor "Why's this artist hot?": D'Angelo was one of those guys who was naturally smooth, cool and sexy as hell without trying. Yes, we saw his abs and the marijuana-credited sleepy brown eyes, but even wearing a winter coat and baggy jeans, he had that appeal MC Lyte and Da Brat rapped about. He was that sexy "ruffneck" that we "were looking for" without trying to be. But what was enchanting about him was he had a rough-around-the-edges appeal but was still respectful in his music. He crooned "You're my lady," not "You're my bitch" or "You're my ho" or "My chick bad." She was a woman. Period. D'Angelo was born on February 11, 1974, and "Lady" came out in 1995 when he was 21 years old. He was an old soul who modeled himself after old school greats, and he did it effectively as a neo-soul artist. There was a ﬁve-year gap between "Brown Sugar" and "Voodoo," but he reached number one on the charts and stayed relevant. I'd be surprised if he didn't reach number one status again if he ever decided to drop another album. I know I'm impatiently waiting on the next one.
First Memory, Most Personal Memory of the Artist: Angie Stone and D'Angelo have the most soulful, angry-as-hell songs I've ever heard. His was "Shit, Damn, Motherfucker" and hers was "Pissed Off." As a team (and prior couple), their work was remarkable. I still remember singing the song on the back of a school bus with a high school associate who told me ''I used to think you were so nerdy, but you're cool. You like D'Angelo." For the record, I thought I was cool anyway and her stamp of approval was laughable, but it did say a lot about the artist to somehow make people seem cooler for liking him. However, that wasn't the song that struck me the most. D'Angelo has never made a song I didn't enjoy. But it was his remake of Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin'" that did it for me. I've never heard anybody, outside of Michael Jackson, sing a Smokey song better than the hazel-green eyed man himself. I blasted that song nonstop during my teenage years.
Accomplishments from the Artist: D'Angelo's "Brown Sugar” album was overwhelmingly great for neo-soul, R&B and women everywhere. His single "Brown Sugar" from the album of the same name spent 20 weeks on the Billboard charts, as well as "Lady." "Cruisin" spent 18 weeks on the charts, and "Me and Those Dreamin' Eyes of Mine" stayed on the charts for six weeks. While "UntitIed" from the "Voodoo" album did 17 weeks on the charts, you would've thought the song was there longer because clearly the video of him naked and reliving an orgasm in that music video left women wiping their bottom lips. (D'Angelo has repeatedly stated he was thinking about food regardless of what the video looks like.) Those of you who are old enough to remember when that 2000 music video came out know that stuff like Erykah Badu running naked in public was nothing compared to the acting D'Angelo reenacted in that one very mesmerizing scene.
D'Angelo worked with Eddie Kendricks, Prince and The Ohio Players.
D'Angelo collaborated with Lauryn Hill on the song "Nothing Even Matters."
D'Angelo had a five-year gap between his first two albums.
* This entry was originally published on Associated Content in June of 2010. It has been republished with permission from Shamontiel. To find out who the other 29 artists were who were selected in 2010, visit this Pinterest board.
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