Monday 9 March 2020

D'Angelo: Every Song Ranked.

Well, here we are again...!

Four years ago, in a project that took a fair few months I sat down as a die-hard fan of Prince and ranked my top 100 Prince songs (which you can catch up with here) placing them in order and even making a mix too.  The list was fun, exhausting and definitely divisive but is still something I'm incredibly proud of.

So now 4 years later, I thought let's do it again... and rank every D'Angelo song that he's ever sang on.

As with the Prince list, there are a couple of rules to adhere to before we get started:

- Firstly, no bootlegs.  It just seemed fair that every song should be completely accessible by all.
- No remixes.  The list would be endless if we started to include remixes as new ones seem to emerge every week so we're sticking with original versions of tracks only, or in the case of GZA's 'Cold World', track that D'Angelo recorded vocals specifically for.
- For the purposes of this list, we're sticking to vocal performances only and not including tracks that D'Angelo may have written or produced or remixed or played instruments on for other artists.
- And finally, no live stuff.  Again, the list would be endless if we included all the live recordings floating around so official studio releases only in this case.

Hold my hand friends and let's take the deep dive together...

62. 'I Found My Smile Again', D'Angelo
Space Jam OST, 1996; Atlantic Records
"I haven't felt like this in a while"

61. 'Glass Mountain Trust', Mark Ronson featuring D'Angelo
Record Collection, 2010; RCA Records
"I'm free now, I'm gonna take all of my love back on the way out"

60. 'Girl, You Need A Change of Mind', D'Angelo
Get On The Bus OST, 1996; Interscope Records
"Why march in picket lines?"

59. 'Cold World' [RZA Remix], GZA featuring D'Angelo & Inspektah Deck
Cold World single, 1995; Geffen Records
"Babies crying, brothers dying"

58. 'Ain't Nobody Home', BB King featuring D'Angelo
Deuces Wild, 1997; MCA Records
"How many times I begged you to come home?"

57. 'Sing A Simple Song', Chuck D, Isaac Hayes and D'Angelo
Different Strokes By Different Folks, 2005; Epic Records
"Time is passin, I grow older, things are happening fast"

56. 'So Far To Go', J Dilla featuring Common and D'Angelo
The Shining, 2006; BBE Records
"You have come so far"

55. 'Intro'/'Water No Get Enemy', D'Angelo, Femi Kuti + Macy Gray featuring Roy Hargrove, Nile Rodgers, The Soultronics + Positive Force
Red Hot + Riot, 2002; MCA Records
"If your child dey grow, a water he go use"

54. 'Heaven Must Be Like This', D'Angelo
Down In The Delta OST, 1998; Virgin Records
"I think heaven is you"

53. 'Playa Playa', D'Angelo
Voodoo, 2000; Cheeba Sound/Virgin
"Rob you of your glow"

52. 'Imagine', Snoop Dogg featuring Dr Dre and D'Angelo
The Blue Carpet Treatment, 2006; Geffen Records
"I've been dreaming all my life"

51. 'The Door', D'Angelo
Black Messiah, 2014; RCA Records
"I wrote a perfect song"

50. 'Devil's Pie', D'Angelo
Voodoo, 2000; Cheeba Sound/Virgin
"F--k the slice, want the pie"

49. 'Higher', D'Angelo
Brown Sugar, 1995; EMI Records
"Feels like heaven when I think about you"

48. 'Precious Love', Erykah Badu and D'Angelo
Marvin Is 60, 1999; Motown Records
"Cos you've shown me what happiness is"

47. 'Nothing Even Matters', Lauryn Hill featuring D'Angelo
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, 1998; Ruffhouse/Columbia
"Your love makes me feel ten feet tall"

46. 'Prayer', D'Angelo
Black Messiah, 2014; RCA Records
"I know that you will make it to the promised land"

45. '1000 Deaths', D'Angelo
Black Messiah, 2014; RCA Records
"The moment of truth is near"

44. 'Talk Shit To Ya', Marlon C featuring D'Angelo
Baby Boy OST, 2001; Universal Records
"Since we already had sex, might as well finish the rest"

43. 'Back to the Future (Part 2)', D'Angelo
Black Messiah, 2014; RCA Records
"The seasons may come and your luck may just run out"

42. 'Jonz in My Bonz', D'Angelo
Brown Sugar, 1995; EMI Records
"Fooled, misled by every single possibility"

41. 'Sugah Daddy', D'Angelo
Black Messiah, 2014; RCA Records
"I fill my baby's crib with all the sweetness daddy wants to give"

40. 'Everybody Loves the Sunshine', D'Angelo
Untitled (How Does It Feel?) single, 1999; EMI Records
"Bees and things and flowers"

39. 'Pray', Vertical Hold featuring D'Angelo
Head First, 1995; A&M Records
"Don't you be too blind to see"

38. 'U Will Know', BMU
Jason's Lyric OST, 1994; Mercury
"And the things you want you can't have"

37. 'Greatdayndamornin/booty', D'Angelo
Voodoo, 2000; Cheeba Sound/Virgin
"I search for answers often, I paid the price for many"

36. 'Chicken Grease', D'Angelo
Voodoo, 2000; Cheeba Sound/Virgin
"So unique, come on everybody let's dance to the beat"

35. 'Ain't That Easy', D'Angelo
Black Messiah, 2014; RCA Records
"I been waiting so long"

34. 'Bullshit', The RH Factor featuring D'Angelo
Distractions, 2006; Verve Records
"I won't worry, don't you worry, 'bout a thing"

33. 'Believe', Q-Tip featuring D'Angelo
The Renaissance, 2008; Universal Motown
"I believe... that's love"

32. 'Feel Like Makin Love', D'Angelo
Voodoo, 2000; Cheeba Sound/Virgin
"Strollin' in the park, Watchin' winter turn to spring"

31. 'Tell Me', Slum Village featuring D'Angelo
Fantastic, Vol.2, 2000; Good Vibe Recordings
"Tell me if you want some and you can just, come on"

30. 'She's Always in My Hair', D'Angelo
Scream 2 OST, 1997; Capitol Records
"Maybe I’ll marry her, Maybe I won’t"

29. 'May I, Stand Unshaken', D'Angelo
Red Dead Redemption II OST, 2018; Lakeshore Records
"I once was standing tall, Now I feel my back's against the wall"

28. 'Alright', D'Angelo
Brown Sugar, 1995; EMI Records
"And if we don't see eye to eye, At least we tried"

27. 'I'll Stay', The RH Factor featuring D'Angelo
Hard Groove, 2003; Verve Records
"I'll Stay, For She'll Be Coming Back"

26. 'Africa', D'Angelo
Voodoo, 2000; Cheeba Sound/Virgin
"I dwell within a land that's meant, Meant for many men that's not my tone"

25. 'Back to the Future (Part 1)', D'Angelo
Black Messiah, 2014; RCA Records
"Traveling at the speed of light and then, At the same time I'm in the same spot too"

24. 'Til it's Done (Tutu)', D'Angelo
Black Messiah, 2014; RCA Records
"In a world where we all circle the fiery sun, With a need for love, What have we become?"

23. 'Left & Right', D'Angelo featuring Redman and Method Man
Voodoo, 2000; Cheeba Sound/Virgin
"Smack your ass, pull your hair"

22. 'Be Here', Raphael Saadiq featuring D'Angelo
Instant Vintage, 2002; Universal Records
"Oh, lady you should see the tricks that I got"

21. 'The Line', D'Angelo
Voodoo, 2000; Cheeba Sound/Virgin
"I'll go through the fire with you, Kill and die with you"

20. 'The Root', D'Angelo
Voodoo, 2000; Cheeba Sound/Virgin
"Said, I left my mojo left my mojo, In my favorite suit"

19. 'Another Life', D'Angelo
Black Messiah, 2014; RCA Records
"The candy-coated thoughts that drift through my sleep"

18. 'The Notic', The Roots featuring D'Angelo
Men In Black OST, 1997; Columbia Records
"You're a shining star, No matter where you are"

17. 'When We Get By', D'Angelo
Brown Sugar, 1995; EMI Records
"T'is a beautiful day, and you're welcome to stay"

16. 'Betray My Heart', D'Angelo
Black Messiah, 2014; RCA Records
"Through the storm, through the rain, I'll come running to ease your pain"

15. 'One Mo'gin', D'Angelo
Voodoo, 2000; Cheeba Sound/Virgin
"And I wondered all this time 'bout how you been, And I hoped by chance, I'd see you once again"

14. 'Really Love', D'Angelo
Black Messiah, 2014; RCA Records
"I fall in love so quickly"

13. 'Geto Heaven (Part 2)', Common featuring D'Angelo
Like Water For Chocolate, 2000; MCA Records
"Know I love my baby; my baby loves me"

12. 'Cruisin', D'Angelo
Brown Sugar, 1995; EMI Records
"Music was made for love"

11. 'Break Ups 2 Make Ups', Method Man featuring D'Angelo
Tical 2000: Judgement Day, 1998; Def Jam Recordings
"I'm still lovin' you, babe"

10. 'Untitled (How Does it Feel)', D'Angelo
Voodoo, 2000; Cheeba Sound/Virgin
"You've already got me right where you want me baby"
Envisioned as something of a tribute to Prince, the track (produced and written with Raphael Saadiq) went on to win a Grammy and become a defining track from 'Voodoo'.  It's abrupt end was apparently due to the tape having run out - an effect everyone recording seemed to like so kept that version in place.  But for a track already clocking in at 7+ minutes, how long was this track supposed to run at?

9. 'The Hypnotic', The Roots featuring D'Angelo
Illadelph Halflife, 1996; Geffen Records
"Driftin... driftin"
The story goes that when producer/engineer Bob Power was working on 'Brown Sugar', he invited his friend and collaborator Questlove in on the recording sessions as a possible contributor to the project.  Questlove - without hearing any of the recordings - declined the suggestion as he had no interest in working with R&B acts at the time.  Upon eventually hearing 'Brown Sugar' though, openly acknowledged the mistake; calls were placed and subsequent friendships made.

8. 'The Charade', D'Angelo
Black Messiah, 2014; RCA Records
"With the veil off our eyes we'll truly see"
From the album that came out of nowhere, following a fourteen year absence since 'Voodoo'.  There were definitely tracks released in the interim ('Imagine That', 'Bulls--t', 'So Far To Go') but the release of 'Black Messiah' totally caught people off guard.  Hailed as something of the best Prince song that Prince didn't make, this gem from 'Black Messiah' perhaps clocks in a little short at 3:20 but great production and vocals, not forgetting its sitar work from Pino Palladino, make it unforgettable.

7. 'Shit Damn Motherfucker', D'Angelo
Brown Sugar, 1995; EMI Records
"Why are you sleepin' with my woman?"
The genius of this track lies in its simplicity and will forever rank as not just a great D'Angelo track but a great track on the theme of infidelity - jocking for the number one slot on that list with Prince's 'I Hate U'.

6. 'Spanish Joint', D'Angelo
Voodoo, 2000; Cheeba Sound/Virgin
"Soul controller in control of me"
'Voodoo' was recorded amongst the holy grail of Soulquarian releases which included 'Mama's Gun' and 'Like Water For Chocolate' with many of the albums recorded at the same time and sharing similar musicians in Questlove, James Poyser and trumpeter Roy Hargrove, even the same studio mixer in Russell Elevado.  Elevado and Hargrove were really two artists that brought a great deal to 'Voodoo' as well as each other's project with Elevado serving as mixer for all of Hargrove's RH Factor projects ('Hard Groove', 'Strength' and 'Distractions').  'Spanish Joint' is as perfect an example of the chemistry on board for 'Voodoo' as any track could be.

5. 'Lady', D'Angelo
Brown Sugar, 1995; EMI Records
"A bunch of them are itchin' for you to scratch 'em"
Serving as the third single from 'Brown Sugar', 'Lady' peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1996.  It was certified gold by the RIAA on June 4, 1996 and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1997.  Of all the songs that have paired D'Angelo with Raphael Saadiq, this may very well be the one that they will be remembered most findly for.  Saadiq - credited incorrectly on the album as "Rafael Saadiq" - helped to create a song as much a lasting piece of his own legacy as D'Angelo's.  (A quick shout out to DJ Premier's 'Just Tha Beat Mix' of the track with AZ.)

4. 'Me and Those Dreamin Eyes of Mine', D'Angelo
Brown Sugar, 1995; EMI Records
"Wishin' my fantasy, Would soon become a reality"
One of D'Angelo's most signature tracks, subject to countless remixes even to this day  which naturally says something about the song's impact.  A geniusly written tune capturing the innocence and naiviety of young love.  Bob Power on guitar really helps to make this track special but as we're mentioning remixes, we'd like to quickly shout out Erick Sermon's Def Squad remix with Redman and Sermon's 'Dreamy' mix too. 

3. 'Send it On', D'Angelo
Voodoo, 2000; Cheeba Sound/Virgin
"You soul's in me, your soul's somethin that I feel inside"
While 'Untitled (How Does It Feel)' may be the track 'Voodoo' is most remembered for, this has always been the signature track from the album for me.  Written with Angie Stone and Luther Archer (D'Angelo's brother) following the birth of D'Angelo and Stone's son, 'Send It On' plays like a quintessential Al Green track and Roy Hargrove just rounds the whole thing off perfectly.

2. 'Smooth', D'Angelo
Brown Sugar, 1995; EMI Records
"How do you retain your cool, Seems your love breaks all the rules"
Always referred to this as D'Angelo's most underrated song - in that it just doesn't seem to get mentioned too often at all.  Opening with its almost operatic sequence, the track morphs into a hip-hop inspired production that boasts the great Mark Whitfield on guitar.  'Smooth' also ranks as the first D'Angelo song that I really fell in love with.

1. 'Brown Sugar', D'Angelo
Brown Sugar, 1995; EMI Records
"Skin is caramel with those cocoa eyes, Even got a big sister by the name of Chocolate Thai"
Well, this is it.  The song that started everything.  And I don't just mean an incredible career that we're celebrating 25 years later, but a musical movement that went on to introduce artists like Erykah Badu, Bilal, Jill Scott... countless names with albums that will be remembered by future generations for the masterpieces they are.  'Brown Sugar', for me, is the quintessential D'Angelo song - co-written and -produced with A Tribe Called Quest's Ali Shaheed Muhammad, the unmistakable opening bars of the organ, it's unapologetic jazz vibe... to call it timeless is an understatement.  Just as 'Purple Rain' topped our Top 100 Prince list, no other song could top our D'Angelo list.

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