By: Bonsu Thompson
It can be said that the genius of Michael D’Angelo Archer began at age 3 when he was discovered tickling the family piano. Decades later, Virginia’s sugar man played and arranged his own percussion, keyboard, guitar and, of course, piano to introduce himself (with blunt between ear and cornrow) via one of the finest opuses ever. The music was such a higher power that competition remained off the radar. D would satellite hip-hop–the all-consuming “Lady (Remix)” with DJ Premier and AZ, GZA’s icey “Cold World”—and then, like many of history’s great music minds, vanish. Once reappeared, though, whether to elevate a Common or Snoop track, or deliver his own Grammy-acclaimed LP, the results were always extraterrestrial.
It can also be said that D’Angelo was at his most genius when honoring genius. While in front of Paul Hunter’s lens, wailing like Prince, D put some skin in the game. His simplest decision ended up his smartest.
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, bandleader of the Roots, producer, DJ, percussionist and collaborator says:
“D’Angelo’s a true artist at heart. No matter how much I try to bash him in the head with records, every day the conversation is, 'How did you let me make 13 albums to your one album?' But that’s him. He doesn’t create music unless he’s totally moved and motivated to. Like I’m a machine, I’m a worker, but music is a spiritual thing to him. He can’t be forced to make it come before its time. I’m not suffering like the rest of the world 'cause I know what the [upcoming album] will sound like. But I will say, it’s truly a work of art.”