Studio engineer and tour manager discuss influence of Michael Brown's death on 'Black Messiah' release
D’Angelo tour manager Alan Leeds has said that the artist’s new album ‘Black Messiah’ is his way of speaking out about the Ferguson protests and racial unrest in America, confirming that the album was finished just three weeks ago.
‘Black Messiah’ was released on Monday (December 15), some 14 years after D’Angelo’s last album, ‘Voodoo’. The New York Times reports that the album was originally planned for release in 2015 but that the recent protests in Ferguson over the death of Michael Brown, and the subsequent decision to not indict the police officer responsible, made those involved with making the record want to put it out as soon as possible.
Leeds spoke about a conversation he had with D’Angelo in which he was told: “The one way I do speak out is through music. I want to speak out.”
Elsewhere, the US publication confirmed that the album was heard by employees at label RCA for the first time on Sunday night (December 14) at an industry listening party. Russell Elevado, D’Angelo’s studio engineer said the album was close to completion for two and half years but that it was finished in late November. “It’s pretty much right out of the oven — it’s still hot,” he said.
The 12-track record, which includes contributions from Q-Tip, Questlove and Parliament-Funkadelic’s Kendra Foster, is being billed as D’Angelo’s most political to date. The sleeve features a photo of demonstrators, and in a booklet handed out at the New York event, the singer cited recent protests around the world as inspiration.
“‘Black Messiah’ is a hell of a name for an album,” D’Angelo wrote in a statement accompanying its release. “Many will think it’s about religion. Some will jump to the conclusion that I’m calling myself a Black Messiah. For me, the title is about all of us. It’s about the world. It’s about an idea we can all aspire to. We Should all aspire to be a Black Messiah.”
He continued: “Its about people rising up in Ferguson and in Egypt and in Occupy Wall Street and in every place where a community has had enough and decides to make change happen. It’s not about praising one charismatic leader but celebrating thousands of them.”
The singer has also announced plans for ‘The Second Coming Tour’, which will see him playing Birmingham Academy (February 17), Manchester Apollo (18) and London Eventim Apollo (20) alongside his band The Vanguard, which is made up of bassist Pino Palladino, guitarists Jesse Johnson and Isaiah Sharkey, keyboardist Cleo ‘Pookie’ Sample and John Blackwell on drums.
The ‘Black Messiah’ tracklisting is as follows:
‘Ain’t That Easy
‘Back in the Future (Part I)’
‘Till It’s Done (Tutu)’
‘Betray My Heart’
‘Back In The Future (Part II)’