It's been 17 years since D'Angelo released his platinum-selling debut album Brown Sugar. The last decade of the neo-soul singer's career has been marked by a prolonged absence from the music scene that has left fans wondering what happened to the promising talent. Now that the star is ready to stage his comeback, GQ magazine sat down with the man to talk with him about his rough journey back into the limelight. In an insightful story, the magazine gets to the heart of why D'Angelo left in the first place, his road to recovery and the visions of Marvin Gaye that haunted him for years.
"I was following him as a grown man," D'Angelo said of the last of his dreams of Marvin Gaye — which started the day he died (April 1, 1984) and ended shortly after he signed his own recording contract. "He was a bit heavier, and he had the beard. He was naked, and all I could see was his back and that cap he used to wear all the time. And he got into this whirlpool Jacuzzi with his wife and his daughter and his little son, and that's when he turns around and looks at me. And he goes, 'I know you're wondering why you keep dreaming about me.' And I woke up."
The "Devil's Pie" singer also shared how what some might deem the peak of his career, the release of his second album Voodoo and, more importantly, the release of the video to his sultry single "Untitled (How Does It Feel)," was actually its death knell due to his discomfort with being marketed as a sex symbol.
"One time I got mad when a female threw money at me onstage, and that made me feel f----d up, and I threw the money back at her," he recalled. "I was like, 'I'm not a stripper.'"
Later, while battling with the death of his close friend, legendary underground hip hop producer J Dilla, in 2006, D'Angelo became consumed by the thought that all great artists die young.
"I felt like I was going to be next. I ain't bullshitting. I was scared then. I was so f----d up, I couldn't go."
This thought would keep him out of the scene and under the influence for many years to come until he was stirred out of the comatose state by friends and family, especially The Roots drummer ?uestlove, who played in his band on the Voodoo tour. In the article, D'Angelo talks about a pivotal conversation the two had and how it spurred a rededication to his art.
"I'm driven by the masters that came before me that I admire — the Yodas," D said. "People didn't understand [the music of classical composers like Beethoven], and it got bad reviews… He's like, 'I don't make music for you. I make music for the ages.'"
D'Angelo recently performed for the first time in 11 years at a show in Sweden on January 25, 2012. At the show, the star, who hasn't had a hit single of his own since 2000's "Untitled (How Does it Feel)," debuted a new song called "Sugah Daddy."
The Grammy winner and neo-soul icon is in the studio working on his third album set for release sometime this year.
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