Where is D’Angelo? When is D’Angelo’s new album coming out? Is D’Angelo touring? Fans have been asking those questions since 2000, when the elusive singer, born Michael Eugene Archer, released the neo-soul classic “Voodoo.” He’s yet to issue a follow-up, although rumors suggest his long-gestating third album—working title: “James River”—will finally arrive in 2012. The 38-year-old artist has certainly been more visible in recent years, and in early 2012, he played 11 concerts in Europe, stopping in London, Paris, Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Zurich. After those January and February dates, he performed on July 7 at the Essence Fest in New Orleans. It was his first official U.S. show in 12 years, although he’d taken the stage in June as part of Roots drummer Questlove’s all-star “Superjam” at the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee.
Questlove is one of the many musicians who has worked on “James River”, and in a December 2011 interview with the music website Pitchfork, he talked up the possibility of a 2012 release.
“The album is pretty much 97% done,” Questlove said. “He’s just finishing his lyrics now. He needs somebody to smack him and take the record away from him because it’s pretty much finished…For all intents and purposes, this album is the black version of [The Beach Boys’] “Smile”– at best, it will go down in the Smile/”There’s a Riot Goin’ On”/Miles Davis’ “On the Corner” category. That’s what I’m hoping for.”
Where has D’Angelo been for the last decade? The Virginia-born singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist has battled drug and alcohol addiction, and in January 2005, he was arrested for marijuana and cocaine possession. Photos showed a bloated, disheveled D’Angelo who looked nothing like the muscular crooner fans and critics had fallen in love with a half-decade earlier. In March 2010, not long after an unofficial “James River” track called “1000 Deaths” began circulating on the Internet, he was nabbed for soliciting sex from an undercover New York City police officer. Despite these setbacks, D’Angelo has recently performed the new songs “Sugah Daddy,” “The Charade,” “Ain’t That Easy” and “In Another Life,” raising hopes that his much-anticipated soul masterpiece will finally see the light of day.
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