After days of speculation surrounding "Black Messiah," a purported third album from R&B legend D'Angelo, RCA Records held an invite-only listening party for the record just hours before its surprise release at midnight on Monday.
Held inside PHD at the Dream Hotel in Manhattan's Meatpacking district, the listening brought together industry insiders, journalists and celebs like Spike Lee and rising rapper Cakes Da Killa. Everyone who cared about the mysterious singer seemed to be in attendance, though D'Angelo himself didn't grace the crowd with an appearance.
Questlove, a longtime collaborator of D'Angelo's, DJ'd the event and introduced the record, which was 14 years in the making, as the "Apocalypse Now" of black music.
Spanning twelve tracks, "Black Messiah" is a timely statement from an elusive musician. On it, D'Angelo reflects on ongoing racial tensions in the U.S., filling some tracks with layered and driving guitars and militant drums. Elsewhere, he reverts to more soulful sounds, delivering sensual ballads about connection and requited love.
The album's first slated single, "Really Love," finds D'Angelo noodling on Spanish guitars and moaning to an object of his affection in his unmistakably soft croon.
D'Angelo will be embarking on a European tour in February to promote the album.
The "Black Messiah" has returned, just in time for Christmas.