“He’s chomping at the bit to get in the studio.” So there you had it: A “soul masterpiece” on the horizon that no one wanted to discuss.
I called Virgin Records, D’Angelo’s label, to ask about its release date. After being referred to several publicists (none of whom returned calls), I finally spoke with one receptionist who told me bluntly, “D’Angelo was dropped last summer.” She said it was part of restructuring. Confused, I turned to Google, which led to Billboard Magazine, which published news last July that the R&B star had been signed to J Records, the home of Alicia Keys and American Idol graduates Fantasia and Ruben Studdard.
I discovered that Leeds, had affirmed the rumor at the end of September.
I love Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway, but I’m gonna tell you that one of the songs I love the most is the song called “Joy” that Teddy Riley did.
And I can tell you that every woman in the world can let down her hair and take off all her clothes to the Isley Brothers’ “For the Love of You.” OK?
Not bad for a preacher’s son who forged his vocal talent singing in church and high school choirs.
That said, he’s the last guy who’d slap down tracks just to pick up a few bucks.
But calls to the label confirmed the opposite: A contact there, Sara Weinstein Denison, said plainly that J Records had no agreement with D’Angelo whatsoever.
A real mystery was unfolding, made more compelling by the fact that many of D’Angelo’s local friends and relatives could not be reached at all.
But his life and his career seem to be coming apart, very publicly, at the seams.