D’Angelo Finally Speaks On The Musical Influences For ‘Black Messiah’ w/ Chairman Mao

zo Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers…

D'Angelo Finally Speaks On The Inspiration For 'Black Messiah' w/ Chairman Mao

I know you’re all still recovering from D’Angelo‘s break-the-internet drop of the 14-years in the making comeback piece Black Messiah, but there’s a whole lot left to be explored on the game-changer. And who better to draw the origins map for the spacey-soul specimen that snuck up on us in the middle of the night, than the man himself? D sat with the ever-decorated Chairman Mao for RBMA Radio and gave the full list of references for the new record, dating back to quartet singers like Robert Blair and guitar giant Eddie Hazel of P-Funk-dom to funk singers or “squallers” like The Ohio Players’ leading man Sugarfoot.

I won’t go too far in, mostly because I’m just not ready to discuss the album at length like that (gonna need a few more times through.) But this fairly candid sit-down with Mao is like a history of the entire funk cannon through the prism of it’s great redeemer (encyclopedic thoroughness.) You can read through some of the more compelling excerpts below, including when D first heard Prince, how he got turned on to Joni Mitchell and the timelessness of Band Of Gypsies and listen to the entirety of the interview below. Cop D’Angelo’s Black Messiah LP on iTunes today.

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.”

On the most essential Sly Stone selections : 

“I would say that it’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).” For him to be as big and influential as he was – and then turn around and do that? I mean, he had already put his flag in the ground commercially. If he never wrote another song ever again in his life, he nailed it with that one. And, there’s Larry Graham’s bassline. A whole genre of music was created off of that.”

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