In this April 11, 2000 file phot, singer D'Angelo walks backstage at the VH1 special concert "Men Strike Back" Madison Square Garden in New York. AFP PHOTO / STAN HONDA / FILES
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D'Angelo, whose career was launched as a teenager during an amateur night at New York's famed Apollo Theater, won acclaim for his funk-infused R&B and soul on his two previous albums, 1995's "Brown Sugar" and 2000's "Voodoo," but he retreated from public view after a global tour."Black Messiah" defies easy categorization but shows clear similarities to his sometime mentor Prince, with the now 40-year-old D'Angelo powering his funk beats with a strong dose of electric guitar and an impressive falsetto.D'Angelo stays experimental musically throughout the album even when the subject matter turns from politics to romance.Releasing a statement at a listening party for the album in New York, D'Angelo acknowledged that he was courting controversy with the title "Black Messiah" but insisted he was not portraying himself as some R&B Jesus.The surprise release by D'Angelo came on the same day as a much more expected album by hip hop star Nicki Minaj.
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