Up until recently, I detested R&B. When I first started getting into hip hop when I was 12 or 13, I associated the genre with the likes of Usher, Ne-Yo and Mariah Carey who appeared to be the antithesis of my backpacker ethos. To put it succinctly, I would much rather listen to the squeeky, stream-of-consciousness flow of Madlib’s Quasimoto than the shiny bullshit of T-Pain (admittedly not R&B). I liked the occasional Anthony Hamilton, or Erykah Badu track, and I enjoyed making fun of R. Kelly, but I held an unreasonable contempt for the genre for many years. Boy, how wrong I was. “Alternative” R&B acts like The Weeknd and Frank Ocean have opened my eyes to the genre, and pushed me to investigate more contemporary R&B.
D’Angelo had also impressed me on J Dilla tracks, but I had never thought twice about investigating his solo work. Recently, the Richmond, VA crooner has emerged from hibernation and scheduled a few live performances. The below mix is from a recent performance in Sweden, and features a number of originals, covers, and two Dilla tracks (!!!). While I cannot begin to understand the impact D’Angelo has had on modern R&B and the neo-soul movement, I can begin to respect him and his contemporaries for their impact on modern hip hop, and as the forefathers of The Weeknd’s and Frank Ocean’s of 2012.