D'Angelo and The Vanguard - Black Messiah
Critic Score
Based on 31 reviews
2014 Ratings: #1 / 1004
Year End Rank: #41
User Score
2014 Ratings: #4
Liked by 43 people
December 15, 2014 / Release Date
LP / Format
RCA / Label
Neo-Soul / Genres
D'Angelo / Primary Artists
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Slant Magazine
The album would be vital in any time, but in 2014, it's downright restorative. Call its studio ethic retro-fetishism if you must, but truth is that everything about this album reaches into the past to bring us what the present needs.
A.V. Club

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.

Pretty Much Amazing

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.


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.

Tiny Mix Tapes

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.

NOW Magazine

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.

Messiah churns the “old school” in ways that bristle with vitality, yet are as fresh and urgent as anything on radio.

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.

Consequence of Sound

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

Rolling Stone

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 Line of Best Fit

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.

Wondering Sound
D’Angelo challenges you to listen closely, and Black Messiah provides ample rewards for repeated listening.
The 405

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.

Drowned in Sound

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.

Northern Transmissions

It’s a record that is aware of its own merits, and is fully confident that it will be loved, year-end lists be damned.

FACT Magazine

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.


The singer’s reappearance in the post-Ferguson climate feels like nothing less than a superhero donning his cape. Black Messiah is an exquisite realisation of what D’Angelo does best.

The Needle Drop

After 15 years of studio album silence, D'Angelo returns with a fantastic comeback record.

When an artist this talented takes an unexpected hiatus fans can only ponder, fantasizing about the next effort. D'Angelo's glory is in full effect on 'Black Messiah' as he lays everything on the table, rediscovering his roots in the process and paying homage to legends who paved the way before him whilst encouraging those who'll follow in his footsteps. D'Angelo's always been meticulous about the way he composes his music, but this album has an air of freedom about it, the silky smooth vocals ... read more
Summer Listening Series: #20
D’Angelo is one of those artists I’m ashamed that it took me so long to get into. This album is instantly recognisable by those trademark D’Angelo vocals and harmonies. The intricate soul, funk and jazz melodies combined with a dense instrumental style meant that some of it flew over my head on first listen. It took a few listens to fully appreciate it but I got there. All that said, it’s hard to really pin this album down to one thing, I can ... read more
Daily October Horror


What are you on about Toaster? How on earth is this D'Angelo album "horror?' Hear me out.

D'Angelo presents a reality that is masked in a weird simi-insanity. Hidden behind the infectious grooves and blood-pumping rhythms is something darker. Much in the way TPAB presents the degradation of the human mind, Black Messiah does much of the same. This album includes "Sugah Daddy" one of my favorite songs ever. Top 200 for sure. The song presents a ... read more
After 14 years since his 2000 release Voodoo, D'Angelo return in 2014 with Black Messiah and what a return album it is and although i struggle to say which one is my personal favorite but nevertheless it still contains that same playful and intimidate style found in his earlier work weaved into a politically charged record, with a stronger emphasis on 70's and 80's funk giving the record so much groove too it to create another amazing record for the legendary artist.

Track Review

Ain't That ... read more
Ain't that easy is the best opener track in all of music

Now with that being said, let's talk about the album itself. It's kinda fucking crazy how even after 14 years, D'angelo is able to make such a flawless album. This proves why he is a top 10 musician oat. The funky yet smooth neo soul instrumentals and D'angelo's top 1 vocals is what makes this album illegaly special. Rnb has realy gotten so much shine in the 2010's and this record right here proves that.

Best Tracks: Aint That Easy, ... read more
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Added on: December 13, 2014