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D’Angelo Rushed ‘Black Messiah’ Release Because of Police Protests

Many RCA employees heard the album for the first time this weekend

If you were wondering why, after 15 years of near total silence, D’Angelo announced a new album less than a week in advance — and then pushed that date up a couple days — it appears that current events may have been the inspiration. An article from the New York Times about the release of Black Messiah says that the soul singer/songwriter was moved to finally rush the LP out by the events following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and the ensuing lack of indictment for the officer responsible, Darren Wilson. The NYT reports:

D’Angelo and RCA, partly inspired by the nationwide protests over the police killings of unarmed black men, had moved up the release of “Black Messiah” and spent the past month working many all-nighters to decide everything from the track list to the album art, according to interviews with D’Angelo’s collaborators and confidants.

After a grand jury didn’t indict a Ferguson, Mo., police officer last month in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, D’Angelo called his co-manager Kevin Liles. “He said: ‘Do you believe this? Do you believe it?’ ” Mr. Liles said. “And then we just sat there in silence. That is when I knew he wanted to say something.” (D’Angelo declined to be interviewed for this article.)

The story also reveals that the album’s roll-out was so accelerated that many of the employees at RCA (D’Angelo’s label) only heard the album for the first time at the Manhattan listening party that took place over the weekend, and that the album was recorded entirely on analog equipment, with the final album taking up about 200 reels of tape. Read the whole article here.