April 14, 2005

Mixtape Friday: I'm too sexy for my shirt
By Canyon Cody
Published in The Heights

I pray every night before I go to bed: "O Lord I pray to Thee, please bless us with another D'Angelo album. Amen." In an open letter to D'Angelo printed in Esquire, John Mayer wrote, "I'm writing to ask you to put out a follow-up to one of the few records to change my life forever, Voodoo." Our grandchildren probably won't know a thing about Jay-Z or Nas, but backseat lovers in 2083 will still be making nookie with D'Angelo playing in the background.

Unfortunately my prayers have gone unanswered, leaving me with nothing but music from his two albums, 1995's Brown Sugar and 2000's Voodoo, and a random assortment of guest appearances, remixes, b-sides, and rarities. With such a small selection, I cherish every D'Angelo appearance, especially on Method Man's "Break Ups 2 Make Ups" and Common's "Geto Heaven Part Two."


D'Angelo - "Devil's Pie" (Mark Ronson Remix)
In my mixtape column from Jan. 20, 2004, I wrote "The eight second breakbeat at 1:41 into [The Strokes'] 'Someday' begs for a b-boy with two turntables and a mixer to loop the drum solo into a hip-hop beat."

Apparently, New York DJ Mark Ronson reads my column, because a year later we get this phenomenal remix mash-up featuring the vocals from D'Angelo's "Devil's Pie" and a funky beat that samples The Strokes' "Someday."

Lauryn Hill - "Nothing Even Matters" [ft. D'Angelo]
D'Angelo makes no secret of the fact that he's a big Star Wars dork. He once said, "The way I see it the radio stations and the media is like the Death Star, and I'm gonna be Luke Skywalker." This was the revolution that was going to save music and Lauryn Hill was his Princess Leia. This track from Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was the most soulful male/female duet since Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack.


D'Angelo - Untitled (How Does It Feel)
The song's uber-sexual video featured D'Angelo completely naked, his body chiseled like Michaelanglo's David. It turned D'Angelo into a sex icon, a role he was never comfortable with.

The Roots' ?uestlove, who served as musical director for Voodoo, described D'Angelo as amazingly insecure about his body: "Some nights on tour he'd look in the mirror and say, 'I don't look like the video. It was totally in his mind, on some Kate Moss shit.' So, he'd say, 'Lemme do 200 more stomach crunches.' He'd literally hold the show up for half an hour just to do crunches."

During his concerts, women in the crowd would start chanting "Take it off!" He hated being objectified and felt unappreciated as a musician. D'Angelo was too sexy for his shirt, but so sexy it hurt. He ended up canceling most of the tour and hasn't released anything since. ?uestlove's explanation: "What he wants is to do is get fat."