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20 Years Later, How Does It Feel?

Added 01-24-20 06:06:02am EST - “Hailed as a neo-soul smash in 2000, D'Angelo's Voodoo now feels decades more lived-in than its peers. The album's engineer, Russell Elevado, says sounding "old" became the key to sounding timeless.” -


Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From “20 Years Later, How Does It Feel?”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

D'Angelo circa 2000. Mark Guthrie hide caption

The conventional wisdom about Voodoo, in a few big ways, is wrong. Released on Jan. 25, 2000, the second album by D'Angelo was hailed as a high point of the neo-soul era. The music video for the single "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" — featuring the singer crooning shirtless with perfect white teeth, perfect muscles, perfect cornrows — announced him as the moment's new sex symbol. But as D'Angelo would later confess, he hated the way his breakout video sexualized his image. And as hindsight makes clear, Voodoo wasn't really a neo-soul album at all.

Black radio was changing quickly at the end of the 1990s, as artists like Jill Scott, Maxwell and Lauryn Hill melded R&B with slick hip-hop production and a coffee-shop poetry-night sheen. But D'Angelo had spent the past few years indoors, away from the vanguard. As part of The Soulquarians, a collective that also included superstar drummer Questlove, keyboardist James Poyser and heady, trippy producer J Dilla, he had logged countless hours holed up in Greenwich Village's Electric Lady studios, whose vintage equipment had previously helped artists like Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix make their masterpieces. As Nate Chinen of NPR's Jazz Night in America described in The New York Times, The Soulquarians were in their own world — jamming out to old Prince and Stevie bootlegs, transporting themselves and the music they made there to the past, not the future.

Russell Elevado was there, too. A rising producer and engineer, Elevado had been tapped a few years earlier to finish mixing D'Angelo's 1995 debut, Brown Sugar, after the original engineer left the project. As he got to know the artist, he introduced him to his favorite '60s and '70s rock records and grittier, more stylized production methods, and the two began enthusiastically plotting their next venture together.

"I grew up on classic rock and soul — like, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, that's really where my roots are," Elevado says. "My whole concept was, hey, people are sampling these records. I can create those sounds — using the microphones they were using, using the consoles they were using, the same techniques — and make it our own thing organically."


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