5 Reasons D’Angelo is the Savior of (Neo) Soul

Michael Eugene Archer aka D’Angelo hasn’t dyed his hair, bought glow sticks & a black light or take dance lessons like the rest of these “R&B” yellow bellies. This singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, and record producer is R&B, Soul and most importantly, Neo-Soul’s greatest champion. He helped to inspire many artists that are at the forefront of the music industry. Artists like Kanye West, Common, Jay-Z, Melanie Fiona, Erykah Badu were either fans or co-collaborators. He gave the generation a sound that was filled with life, depth, style, and awareness. It helped to balance out the heavy Gangsta Rap of the day. He was valuable to the balance of music then and after his touring in Europe and an amazing performance at the 2012 BET Awards, hopefully the media and fans can now realize he has faithfully and proudly raised the flag of Neo-Soul.

Neo soul is a term coined by music industry entrepreneur Kedar Massenburg during the late 1990s to market and describe a style of music that emerged from soul and contemporary R&B. Heavily based in soul music, neo soul is distinguished by a less conventional sound than its contemporary R&B counterpart, with incorporated elements ranging from jazz, funk, and hip hop to pop, fusion, and African music.

1. A Pillar of the Neo-Soul Genre – Artists such as D’Angelo, Erykay Badu, Lauryn Hill and Maxwell were all artists which helped to redefine popular music at the time. They were the pillars of the Neo-Soul movement and they served as pioneers in a music that spoke to a generation. D’Angelo was also part of the Soulquarians which included a lot of artists that have been influential in the music game today like Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Bilal, Common, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Pino Palladino, James Poyser, Q-Tip, Questlove and the deceased J Dilla. This collective brought together talent with a purpose and an awareness of how powerful their gifts were and still are.

2. True Musician – D’Angelo is a vocalist which plays the piano, keyboard, Hammon Organ, drums, bass, Rhodes piano and guitar. He takes pride in creating something organic and original. His ability to learn various instruments helped him to have a respect for instrumentalist and vocalist before him. This bridge that he developed through learning instruments is something that is missing with a lot of new artists who are not studying their craft.

3. Man With A Message – It was his duty as an artist and as a member of the Soulquarians to focus on the subject matter that was idiosyncratic and personal. They wanted to combat the shallow and degrading voice of urban music at that time.

4. Heir To The (Neo) Soul Throne – D’Angelo is a student of the game. He has studied Marvin, Stevie and prince. He was also trained in the Pentecostal church which puts heavy emphasis on musicianship as a way to praise the Lord. It is no wonder that we hear whisper of his understanding that he has to lead. He has been passed down that responsibility by the legends of yesterday.

5. Human – He is a human in the sense that he has made mistakes. He is also a person that admits to those mistakes and does not glorify but tries to show his faults and how he and others can do better. We will just have to see if he will be able to grow and reach a point where he has become a living testament to others.

“I learned at an early age that what we were doing in the choir was just as important as the preacher. It was a ministry in itself. We could stir the pot, you know? The stage is our pulpit, and you can use all of that energy and that music and the lights and the colors and the sound. But you know, you’ve got to be careful.”


Who is still down with the Neo-Soul Movement? Do you think D’Angelo can bring back Neo-Soul?