Exclaim!'s Top 27 Albums of 2015 So Far

7. D'Angelo & the Vanguard
Black Messiah

Okay, so technically D'Angelo & the Vanguard's Black Messiah came out in late 2014, but given the protracted wait for it, we can ruminate on its greatness for a little longer. After years of anticipation and doubt, Black Messiah arrived not when it was most requested, but when it was most needed.

Musically, it's a perfect funk and analogue soul compound that is uniquely D'. Thematically, love is as present as ever, but louder yet is the desire for social change, be it challenging our unsustainable ways in "Till It's Done (Tutu)" or the painfully prescient call against police oppression, "The Charade." Black Messiah is timely, but not of its time; it's the impetus towards a beautiful future, marinated in and informed by sounds of the past.
Michael J. Warren