D'Angelo is one of the most mercurial musicians of our time. Supremely talented with a flair for the dramatic, he has built a cult following with his catalog of classic material, but has drawn the ire of fans for his lack of consistency -- he's released three albums in two decades. Consistency aside, the Richmond, Va. native is a legend and a musical treasure.
Crashing the party in 1995, with his smoked-out debut album, 'Brown Sugar,' the project spawned multiple singles and was certified platinum by the RIAA within a year of its release. 'Brown Sugar' also garnered the crooner a number of Grammy nominations, including nods for the LP's title track in the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance category, as well as a nomination for Album of the Year.
Then there was his five-year absence from the scene, only popping up for an occasional guest feature or appearance on a soundtrack. However, D'Angelo returned in a big way with his 2000 effort, 'Voodoo.' The album was a smash success, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard charts and moving 320,000 units in its first week of release, ultimately selling over two million records in the U.S. The release was a defining one for D'Angelo and hailed as an instant classic and confirmed he was a certified star.
'Voodoo' would snag the R&B Album of the Year honor at the 2001 Grammy Awards, but like the enigma that he his, D'Angelo would vanish yet again. The singer didn't drop another effort until he reappeared out of thin air with a new release nearly 15 years later.
Today marks the 15th anniversary of this album, so we've crafted a list of the five best songs that serve as the best representation of its greatness.
One of 'Voodoo's more acclaimed album cuts comes courtesy of the somber selection, 'The Root.' Composed by Luther Archer, Charlie Hunter and D'Angelo, the song features lyrics centered around heartbreak and love lost, which when matched with the live instrumentation, fits with the warmth of a glove. When D'Angelo croons, "She done broke the root, in the name of love and hope she took my shield and sword / From the pit of the bottom that knows no floor / Like the rain to the dirt, from the vine to the wine / From the alpha of creation, to the end of all time," he does so with a certain air of authenticity and truthfulness that captures the listener. His hit singles may get most of the hype from casual fans, but true disciples of the artist appreciate gems like 'The Root' just as much.
D'Angelo gets in touch with the black communities' platter of choice with this aptly titled cut, 'Chicken Grease. Musing over the tried-and-true process of cooking up a serving of fried bird, the crooner does his thing over the jazzy keys and crisp percussion, crooning with delight and vigor. This breezy, up-tempo tune may have you craving a two-piece with a biscuit, but manages to whet any musical appetite.
Originally appearing on the soundtrack to the 1998 Hype Williams flick, 'Belly,' 'Devil's Pie' was ultimately added to D'Angelo's 'Voodoo' album. The effort, which he co-produced with DJ Premier, finds him displaying his hip-hop chops on the sample-heavy record, weaving in and out between the heavy bass strings and drums. Tackling the topic of evil and greed, D'Angelo warns us to be weary of satan's addictive and sweet, yet, deadly baked goods.
The first song officially recorded for 'Voodoo,' 'Send It On' was created following the birth of the child D'Angelo had with ex-girlfriend Angie Stone in 1998. The effort was produced by the singer and co-written by Stone and his brother, Luther Archer. Horns, trumpets and drums are the main ingredients in this musical masterpiece and when matched with D'Angelo's feathery vocals, make for a selection that is simply a taste of heaven.
'Untitled (How Does It Feel)'
'Voodoo' reaches its sonic climax with 'Untitled.' The third single released from the album, the track is as sensuous as any in the soul man's catalog. Leaning more towards being subtly suggestive than overtly raunchy, 'Untitled' was praised for its lush soundbed -- comprised of wailing guitar riffs, light drums and keys -- and D'Angelo's nuanced vocal performance. While the song was well-received and praised by a majority of critics, the accompanying video caused more than a few waves due to what some deemed sexual objectification and lewdness. The feathers of prudes around the globe may have been ruffled, but a great number of the female population had few qualms, making the visual one of the most popular and highly requested of the year.