D’Angelo + Questlove Talk Soulquarian Sleepovers, Not Being Neo Soul + More


(AllHipHop News) What happened last night (May 21st) at Brooklyn Arts Museum on 200 Eastern Parkway can only be described as magic.  D’Angelo gave his first ever live lecture as apart of Reb Bull Music Academy with guest moderator Nelson George and surprise guest Questlove.

Before stating, “Sly you promised” when asked about a potential Sly Stone and D’angelo collaboration, he explains how the funk legend is “f*cking with the autoune sh*t”:

He’s always constantly working on music. It’s the truth. He’s working on mad sh*t. [– Nelson interjects– He played you something?] Yeah. [Nelson George interjects- Ohhhhh!] Yeah, It’s progressive, it’s new and he’s f*cking with the Auto-Tune sh*t”. I heard it and was like ‘Nah damn, why you using Auto-tune? But the way he did it, he’s doing it like no one else. I mean of course, it’s Sly.


When D’Angelo released his last album, 2000’s Voodo, CD’s were still the dominant driver of music sales, there was no social media and a home studio cost in the thousands. In 2014, D’Angelo understands the pervasive nature of outside influences but blocks them out by putting himself in a self-created “bubble”:

To a fault, I think that I’ve put myself in a bubble so  that I’m not affected by any of that. Although it’s hard not to, ‘cause it’s the world we live in now, right? I mean I completely block all this sh*t out. I mean, I have to. When I’m thinking about music or when I’m being creative, I can’t even put my mind there.


Hip Hop’s unofficial orator Questlove was in the packed audience and at various moments participated in the discussion from his seat. After initially coming onto the stage to explain how he first D’Angelo, Questlove returned and during his part of the lecture spoke directly with D’Angelo about the bad side of his self-imposed bubble:

 The problem with the bubble thing is that sometimes you’re unaware of the effects. [D’Angelo’s] always amazed at the fact that Voodoo is still rippling. The effects of it are still rippling and spreading. There’s a whole nothing audience that are into it.

With two of the founders of the dynamic movement, The Soulquarians on stage, it was not long before the conversation shifted to that. Accoring to Questlove, the members of the Soulquarian movement recorded solo albums in New York City’s Electric Lady Studios simultaneously. The group began to spend so much time with each other that there were 1998 sleepovers:

Between 1997 and 2001, 2002, we literally just took over Electric Lady Studios. I remember at one point in 1998 it was like sleep overs. We would stay up. Watch Soul Train all night and figure out something. Like see a trick that Al Green’s doing. Mostly it was like practice before the show.

D’Angelo added:

The main premise was, it’s not just going to be one group. It’s not going to be one album that does it, it’s going to be a movement. It’s going to be all of us.


D’ Angelo initially stated  “I plead the fifth” when moderator Nelson George asked if the term neo-soul “was a valid phrase or was it just some PR bullsh*t?” Later he gave an actual answer:

 I don’t want to disassociate or anything and respect it and what it is. But I will say this, anytime you put a name on something you pu t## in a box. So, the mai nth ing about the whole ‘neo-soul’ thing, not to put it down, but.. you in a position where you want to grow as an artist. You never want to be told, ‘hey, you not doing what you did on Brown Sugar. But right now, I’m not.

After stating “I never claimed neo-soul”, the usually reclusive artist explained “when I first came out, I started saying I do ‘Black music’. But after an hour of revelatory insights into the life of D’Angelo, it is Questlove who gives the only insight into an “unmentionable, unspoken, third record”:

 When Voodoo came out, that was at one point in history, that was a hard pill for a lot of people to swallow. It’s weird now, because it’s in our DNA. But when it came out there were a lot of people that were like whoa, wait a minute, this sounds like an acid trip or something. What are you guys doing? Now it sounds normal, especially compared to the….unmentionable, unspoken third record.