Last Year, D’Angelo released his highly anticipated project Black Messiah. It was the first project that the soul artist has released in 14 years and, alongside Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album To Pimp A Butterfly, became one of the most recognizable albums this year to speak on societal issues through its trackless. Although this may be a huge accomplishment for D’Angelo, he doesn’t want to be the only artist making socially charged music. In an interview with the New York Times, the Soul veteran spoke out about how there’s a lack of socially charged music in Hip Hop and music. He also included Kendrick as one of the artists actually making an album like Too Pimp A Butterfly. The article reads:
” Now more than ever is the need to sing about it and to write songs about it. And no one’s doing it. There’s only a chosen couple of people. I think it just takes one little snowflake to start a snowball to go down the hill. My contribution and say, Kendrick Lamar’s and some chosen others’ start the snowball. That’s all I can hope for. I don’t know if I’m comfortable being quote-unquote a leader. But I do realize and understand that my role as a musician, and in the medium that I am, that people are listening to me. Kids are listening to me. We have power to influence minds and influence lives. So I respect that power. I really do. I’m not putting myself on a pedestal or anything like that. I think that’s dangerous. When you start playing with that, and you’re not careful, you can get yourself into trouble.
Coming up, the music of my era was very conscious. I grew up on Public Enemy, and it was popular culture to be aware. People were wearing Malcolm X T-shirts and Malcolm X hats. It was a very cool thing to know who Malcolm X was. It was all in the lyrics. It was trendy to be conscious and aware. Now the trend … it’s just [expletive]. But to tell you the truth, there are a lot of people who feel the same way that I feel and that are making great music, conscious music. But for some reason or another it seems like the gatekeepers are not allowing that stuff to filter through to the mainstream. Kendrick Lamar, he’s an example of someone who is young and actually trying to say something. Who else? You got Young Jeezy and Young Thug. You know what I’m saying? It’s stupid. It’s ridiculous.”
You can read the rest of the NY Times interview here, where it also includes the first meeting between D’Angelo and former Black Panther Party co-founder, Bobby Seale.