Music and culture critic, author, and filmmaker Nelson George and music industry executive and KWL management guru Kevin Liles were among the VIPs present, in addition to Bilal, and music-head beloved jazz pianist, Robert Glasper. Unlike the big band set up D’Angelo used when we saw him at Essence Music Festival last July, the stage was arranged for just two performers this time: the often-secluded neo-soul crooner, and maestro Questlove. Their layout was both intimate and dynamic, and, like Quest hinted at from the show’s onset, was intended to convey an in-studio feel that likely resembles an arrangement D’Angelo would be comfortable jamming in.
Standing directly behind us, Dave 1 and P-Thugg of Chromeo would only stop speaking french to say “Wow” in English during one of Quest and D’Angelo’s entrancing transitions. Being sandwiched between the Canadian electro duo and A Tribe Called Quest producer Ali Shaheed was a treat; witnessing Ali tap his fingers and nod his head along to the musicianship of both D’Angelo (on an MPC and playing piano) and Questlove (vanquishing his signature drum kit) isn’t a moment that can easily be replicated.
I didn’t have a drink, but I felt drunk. Taking notes wasn’t an option and checking my Twitter timeline was a chore, especially during moments when Questlove would ask the crowd to shower his still-shy friend with affectionate energy. “Let him know that he’s loved,” Quest commanded. And we did.
For a full run down of the ‘Soulquarians: Brothers In Arm’ show, the lovely Erika Ramirez over at The Juice has the two-man jam play-by-play. But, as you’ll see in our video above, we finally got confirmation from the horse’s mouth that D’Angelo’s mythological next album is, indeed, almost finished.
[Photo: Lilelenna’s Instagram]