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In the beginning, he suffered from severe writer’s block. ‘Send it On’ jump-started the project, and I credit our son for that.

Then he witnessed the birth of his son, Michael D’Angelo Archer II, with his ex-girlfriend , singer Angie Stone. The song had a spiritual overtone that came with revelation and faith and ‘Thank you, God, for such a beautiful gift.’” In the end, the album’s beleaguered release date came down to just that—releasing Voodoo.

This kind of self-containment, delivered from the edge of nowhere hadn’t been witnessed since… Neo-soul, retro-roots –but none of them truly stuck.

When other singers, like Chico De Barge and Maxwell, submitted their efforts, they, too, were lumped into this category.

Actual soul music – music where notes sounded wet like teardrops, music delivered to our parents by Minnie Riperton, Al Green, and the Isley Brother– was like a distant memory. Kelly would earn and keep the crown of R&B king, but D’Angelo was something deeper.

Brown Sugar was the elixir no one knew what to want. Then we began to learn who D’Angelo was; scouring his CD cover for the standard Babyface or Teddy Riley production credit, we were alarmed to learn that he’d written, produced, arranged, and performed the album himself –as a teenager, in his bedroom in Richmond. He became a symbol for integrity and musicianship and artistry. As other soulful artists, like Erykah Badu and Rahsaan Patterson, followed him, journalists scrambled for a name for this “new” category of music.

’ because we have to fight all the things that are out now.” So D’s short answer to his most frequently asked question, Why so long? “Voodoo started the day we were with our son,” says Stone, who cowrote four tracks on the album with D’Angelo.

, is “I had to get it right; I just wanted it to be right.”The long answer is slightly more involved. “I felt like he approached the album as if it were a celebration.

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Of the half-dozen cover stories and feature articles you’ll read on D’Angelo, most will begin with the fact that his sophomore album took so long to be completed.

By time D’Angelo was a small boy, his grandparents had broken away from the other Pentecostalists in Virginia. And of course, he has nightmares about conjuring Marvin Gaye. And the tarrying that still goes on till four in the mourning.

To call their religion ancestor worship would be blasphemous. The studio pet, a white cat named Jimi, would follow D’Angelo around and curl up in his lap while D worked out some lyric pr chord.

It wasn’t about his tender age (26) or an exceedingly ambitious vision of what his sophomore album should be.

It definitely wasn’t about challenging pop music’s mandate that an artistic cough up a 74-minute disc every two years (D’s too busy being an artist to raise some radical protest like that). “I wasn’t really thinking about the sophomore-jinx thing.” He says.

There were a couple of funky bands (whose members played instruments) that managed to break through back then; actually there were exactly two: Tony Toni Tone, who were headed for a breakup, and Mint Condition, who seemed locked in some powerful curse that kept them from the success and recognition they deserved.

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