What happens when you mix psychedelia with hip hop? Okay, what happens when you mix a funkadelic with a crooner? What happens when one of the best albums of the year is from the last place you expected it....but it also makes some kind of sense?
A few years ago when I worked in a corporate retail store I was almost always scheduled to work with high school kids. One of life's joys is trying to find conversation at work. You know around the water cooler sneaking some fun social currency into a dry dead end job conversations can make or break your quality of life. How could I get some convo with high school kids...? Music of course. Two of these kids would always sneak to the back of the store and share earbuds....and they would dance. One of them was a b-boy....he would slide down ladders and practice his moves hiding from the managers. the first time we talked about music I asked them what was their favorite music and what they listened to of course. I was stunned to find out they listened to Rhythm and Blues. I thought Rhythm and blues was...like... for old people!
I went home and told Stagg that I was blown away. These kids friends were writing music and they all wrote R&B.
I was just really kind of amazed by these young kids listening and really exploring R&B. In the last few years though...R&B has been crossing the very genres it created, if thats possible. And yes, R&B artists have had major airplay. One voice has been MIA though. Gone for 14 years.
BLACK MESSIAH is a mind-blowing psychedelic masterpiece of voice and sounds and implosions all gently performed that sneak up on you. Where did this guy go for 14 years. He was one of the biggest up and coming stars in music...rumours have it that fame was his cruel mistress and he had a lot of knocks. I am so glad he survived and he has made this album. The ways it is rap and hip hop is in it's secret seeming game of dozens. Some of the lyrics seem to hint at calling out major hip hop and rap music. The lyrics often tease around with familiar wordings like "say my name". They seem to humbly lock horns with major hits....yet they are played as straight up sincere songs and words....it's magical to listen to it and not hear pokes to performers who did not let fame stop them from making music.
Self-referential...DAngelo might not have broke the internet with his body but he broke MTV. And a funny lyric riffs on his famous naked music video and one of the many humorous lyrics mentions his famous abdomen. And there are a lot of funny lyrics. This is an album to lay on the floor in the dark and play over and over. I can see this as a major trip-based concept album. Written and worked on truly love-tied to it's (and my heroes) heroes like Prince, Marvin Gaye, Sly Stone, Teddy Pendergast and Luther Vandross and George Clinton. The first thing I said to Stagg when he played it for me was ..."Oh my god...it's so trippy and psycheddelic."