Black Messiah is emphatic; it’s pertinently weird and beautiful and possessed; its rage is masterfully concentrated, its critique is devastatingly pointed.
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 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.
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 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
The good – no, the astonishing - news is that this constantly engrossing record repays a decade and a half's faith and patience.
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.
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.
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.