Black Messiah confirms that music holds the power to challenge and comfort, to take us someplace spiritual, political, and existential. It’s beautifully, devastatingly human.
It is here, it is masterful, it is heartening and it represents today's best from an R&B/soul perspective. Black Messiah has come and we weren't ready.
Is this the Second Coming of Sly, or Prince, or Stevie, or Marvin? No. This is the Second Coming of D’Angelo, not a close second, but a continuation of that lineage. We’ve waited fifteen years for his finest album to date.
D’angelo’s music is soul against evil. Murder, racism, violence, oppression, hatred: Black Messiah is protest music, healing music, a bomb and a balm.
Once again, he brilliantly distills years spent studying the arrangements and analog recording techniques of that music into a personal style that carves out its own space between rhythm and melody.
Black Messiah is a dictionary of soul, but D'Angelo is the rare classicist able to filter the attributes of the greats in the canon into a sound distinctly his own.
An artist of uncompromising power and originality, he has proven that he will not, cannot conform to the expectations of the music industry, his adoring fans, or anyone else. He is a delicate, impulsive genius of rare distinction, and this defiant streak is essential to the character of his music.
The good – no, the astonishing - news is that this constantly engrossing record repays a decade and a half's faith and patience.
Black Messiah is both ancient and fresh — a surging mass of old blues and new soul built from classic thought and rebel spirit, unending angst and beautiful struggle
Black Messiah shows how deep easy can go. D'Angelo and his band have built an avant-soul dream palace to get lost in, for 56 minutes of heaven.
Black Messiah is ambitious and adventurous, and in that way it delivers wholly on the promise of D’Angelo as an artist. In another way it’s new and different for him, the sound is heavier and grittier in places, and more simple and sweeter in others.
The mere existence of his third album evinces that, creatively, he's doing all right. That the album reaffirms the weakest-link status of his singular debut is something else.
Black Messiah is emphatic; it’s pertinently weird and beautiful and possessed; its rage is masterfully concentrated, its critique is devastatingly pointed.
Black Messiah ... has an old-school essence and is proud of it. D’Angelo and his fellow musicians, credited as the Vanguard, spent hours and hours in the studio jamming and shaping tracks, which is pretty much how Voodoo was constructed.
Vocally, Black Messiah is sparse, but sonically, it is accomplished and fulfilled. Every sound, every instrument, every lyric and harmony is in the place it needs to be.
The genius of this record is that D’Angelo has managed to apply the sonic intricacy of Voodoo to his thematic approach.
These carefree moments punctuate D’Angelo’s seemingly effortless virtuosity, helping to make ‘Black Messiah’, after all these years, a real showcase of his incredible talent.
While it isn’t without its flaws, it captures the zeitgeist in a way that few other albums have managed this year, and has both revelers and detractors speaking passionately.
Black Messiah is a dynamite addition to the legacy of one of our greatest artists and the answer to a lot of people’s prayers.
|# 8 -||Billboard|
|# 5 -||Complex|
|# 7 -||Consequence of Sound|
|# 11 -||Crack Magazine|
|# 10 -||CraveOnline|
|# 12 -||Flavorwire|
|# 7 -||Grantland (Steven Hyden)|
|# 16 -||MOJO|
|# 23 -||Noisey|
|# 1 -||Pazz & Jop|
|# 27 -||Piccadilly Records|
|# 18 -||Pigeons & Planes|
|# 7 -||Pitchfork|
|# 2 -||Pretty Much Amazing|
|# 4 -||Rolling Stone|
|# 44 -||Tiny Mix Tapes|
|# 3 -||Treble|
|# 7 -||Exclaim (First Half)|
|# 1 -||Exclaim (Soul/R&B)|
|NPR Music (First Half)|
|Rolling Stone (First Half)|