D'Angelo - Brown Sugar 2xLP
D'Angelo is obviously inspired by the progressive soul of the early '70s, but he has also borrowed carefully from the hip-hop of his own generation. Like many of his contemporaries, he has recorded a tribute to marijuana--the album's title--but it's far wittier than most. It takes the form of a conventional love song ("Brown sugar babe, I gets high off your love ... that's why my eyes are a shade blood burgundy") and mimics intoxication in its throbbing bass lines and reverb-heavy organ. Another song, with a title too profane to print, is a blunt tale of infidelity and murder, but in contrast to most rap fantasies, D'Angelo's blues-like narrative acknowledges such acts have serious consequences. Best of all is the Prince-like "Higher," which combines the spiritual love of God and the carnal love of a woman into one dizzying, organ-fueled hymn. D'Angelo is still rather clumsy with lyrics, and he leans too heavily on ballads over dance numbers, but he has enough talent to grow in any of several directions. It will be an exciting story to follow and one would be foolish to miss the first chapter.