People can’t deny the soulful sounds of ’90s-’00s Neo Soul and R&B artist D’Angelo. Women find the Richmond singer and songwriter simply irresistible. So much that their obnoxious desires turned “Brown Sugar” singer to addiction. The conversation is inspired by a tweet from Twitter user, @stevozone4_ on Feb. 27. He asked if his followers remembered “when women couldn’t stop sexualizing D’angelo” and ultimately, led to him leaving the music industry all together.
The dark and sad truth behind this viral tweet is just how factual it is. In a GQ interview from 2014, D’Angelo spoke to the trendy male-centric magazine in his first interview in over twelve years.
“He was once hailed as the next Marvin Gaye. Then, after his ripped body threatened to overshadow his music, he vanished into addiction,” the GQ interview details.
Angie Stone, the soul diva who sang backup vocals on D’Angelo’s popular song “Brown Sugar” recalls how she felt about his gifts the moment she met him.
“I knew a superstar was on the rise. But there was an innocence there that if we weren’t careful was going to get trashed,” adds Stone, who eventually became romantically involved with D at the time and remains fiercely protective of him, “It’s not a little bit of God in him. It’s a lot of God in him. Sometimes when you have that much power, Satan works tenfold to break you.'”
The article goes into to detail about how D’Angelo became a “mainstream sex object.”
In 2000, D’Angelo released the memorable sensual visual for his hit single “Untitled (How Does It Feel?)” and it became an instant sensation for fans everywhere, especially women who would often lose their minds over the shirtless singer. The lust was unbearable for D’Angelo and it began to eat at him slowly but surely.
The “How Does It Feel” video, which has since been reenacted in a scene from The Jamie Foxx Show, propelled him to superstardom. The visual’s massive impact may not have been worth D’Angelo being reduced to flesh and desire in the grand scheme of things. D’Angelo struggled immensely with how his body began to overshadow the music.
The singer often felt tortured to give the audience what it wanted each night. Producer and the Voodoo tour’s bandleader, Questlove says, “…Worried that he didn’t look as cut as he did in the video, he’d delay shows to do stomach crunches. He’d often give in, peeling off his shirt, but he resented being reduced to that. Wasn’t he an artist? Couldn’t the audience hear the power of his music and value him for that? He would explode and throw things. Sometimes he’d have to be [coerced] not to cancel shows altogether.”
D’Angelo recalled a time where he was completely done with performing for the relentless women who sexualized him, “One time I got mad when a female threw money at me onstage, and that made me feel fucked-up, and I threw the money back at her.”
He continued. “I was like, ‘I’m not a stripper.”
Maybe, we’re too young to understand, but we value D’Angelo’s music beyond the hot bod. It is interesting to dive into a male’s perspective detailing what it feels like to be objectified, because women deal with these matters, from catcalling to incessant projections from men on how to move and behave, daily. Nonetheless, objectifying anyone is wrong, and we should honor D’Angelo’s art.
Gratefully, he cleansed our timelines in the most recent Verzuz entitled D’Angelo and Friends live from The Apollo Theater in Harlem. It was the first Verzuz of its’ kind where D’Angelo brought out a few of his industry friends. It was a night to remember with guest appearances from artists, H.E.R., Method Man and Redman.
Thanks D’Angelo for the perfect additions to our soulful Sunday playlists. We appreciate you for impacting the world with your musical talents, not just your body.