Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

D'Angelo: Voodoo [Virgin, 2000]
Forget the Prince and Marvin stuff--this deeply brave and pretentious record signifies like a cross between lesser Tricky and Sly's Riot Goin' On. Accepting his deficiencies in the tune-and-hook department, he leads from strength, a feel for bass more disquieting than bootalicious. His lyrical focus is the social as spiritual, which he ponders honestly and seriously and sometimes bravely, as on the unjudgmental, unsentimental "The Line," in which a young black man lays out the reasons he's ready to die--leaving the listener to wonder why the fuck he should have to think about it. So the pecs and pubes of the video are a feint, one of many; although the music can be sexy and funky and fun and woman-centered, that's just part of the sonic concept. Which is unique. Play it five years from now, when the follow-up comes out, and you'll recognize it instantly. A-