D' Angelo's back... at least in GQ Magazine's June issue. The troubled R&B singer has the internet buzzing with his first interview in 12 years. He's also been pretty quiet on the music front. Sure, a demo version of D’s “Black Hole Sun”—a remake of rock band Soundgarden’s smash 1994 hit—leaked in January of this year. But, most of his recordings have come via guest spots on rap songs since 2000's Voodoo. D's contributions were never restricted to mere hooks, though. A talented multi-instrumentalist, he routinely took part in jam sessions with the Soulquarians—a collective that included MCs like Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Q-Tip, The Roots's Questlove, J Dilla, Bilal, Erykah Badu and musician James Poyser. As the music world impatiently anticipates the release of D's third album, tentatively titled, James River, XXL looks back at the history of the Soulquarian's hip-hop collaborations.—XXL Staff (@XXLStaff)
D’ Angelo ft. AZ “My Lady (Remix) (1996)
D tapped red hot Brooklyn lyricist AZ and DJ Premier to revamp his rather mellow number into a boom bap banger. The remix didn’t appear on Brown Sugar, but it spawned a video featuring cameos from R&B standouts Faith Evans, a then relatively unknown Erykah Badu and Joi.
A Tribe Called Quest “Crew,” Beats, Rhymes & Life (1996)
Years before The Soulquarians collective was made official, D played keys on “Crew” off Tribe’s Beats, Rhymes & Life.
The Roots ft. D’ Angelo “The Hypnotic,” Iladelph Halflife (1996)
It’s the song that likely sparked a lifetime of collaborations between D’ Angelo and The Roots’s Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. Here, Black Thought delivers perhaps his most underrated love tale with D chiming in with a minimal, yet enchanting chorus.
The Roots ft. D’ Angelo “The ‘Notic,” Men in Black: The Album (1997)
Call it a remix, or alternate version. The Roots reprise the theme from their Illadelph Halflife standout with D cover the hook to Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star.” E. Badu also chips in with a few ad-libs.
Lauryn Hill ft. D’ Angelo “Nothing Even Matters,” The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
D was only one of two vocalists invited to appear on L. Boogie’s classic solo debut. Lauryn opted for a duet rather than handle bars and have D’ Angelo hit notes.
Method Man ft. D’ Angelo “Make Ups 2 Break Ups,” Tical 2000: Judgement Day (1998)
D provided a sultry hook for the second single to Mr. Meth’s sophomore set. The song barely cracked the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, peaking at No. 98, but it reached No. 10 on the Hot Rap Songs chart and was a regular on video countdowns.
The Roots “The Spark,” Things Fall Apart (1999)
D plays keys on this hypnotizing solo cut from would-be Roots outcast, Malik B.
Common’s Like Water for Chocolate (2000)
It’s been documented that Com’s LWFC and Voodoo were cooked up simultaneously in adjacent rooms at New York’s Electric Studios. Tracks were even traded. D’ Angelo’s “Chicken Grease” was initially created for Common, but changed hands once D persuaded Com to let him have it. D played keys on “Time Travelin’ (A Tribute to Fela),” “Cold Blooded” and “Geto Heaven Part Two,” and also sang the hook on the latter.
Slum Village ft. D’ Angelo “Tell Me,” Fantastic, Vol. 2 (2000)
D and J Dilla have a long history of working together, whether it was through Tribe, The Roots or Common, but with the exception of the posthumous “So Far to Go”— this stands as their only direct collaboration.
D’ Angelo “Devil’s Pie,” Voodoo (2000)
Though not a high charter, the “Lady (Remix)” was such a success that D tapped DJ Premier once again to contribute to his sophomore LP. The song initially appeared on the Belly soundtrack, but was later included in Voodoo. Legend has it that Primo initially offered the beat to Canibus for his “Niggonometry” track, but he turned it down.
D’ Angelo ft. Method Man and Redman “Right, Left,” Voodoo (2000)
D and Meth reunited on the lead single to the R&B singer’s second LP, but this time, the Shaolin MC brought his partner-in-rhyme, Method Man, along for the ride. The song peaked at No. 75 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Questlove on D’ Angelo’s Voodoo (2000)
In addition to a track from DJ Premier and guest verses from Red and Meth, Questlove had a big hand in shaping Voodoo, sonically. The Roots’s funky drummer plays on “Playa Playa,” “Chicken Grease” and “Greatdayindamornin’/Booty.”
The Roots ft. D’ Angelo “Break You Off,” Unreleased (2002)
D originally appeared on the lead single to The Roots’s Phrenology. The label eventually replaced him with Musiq Soulchild.
J Dilla ft. D’ Angelo and Common “So Far to Go,” The Shining (2006)
Mr. Archer had all but disappeared since news broke of his near fatal Virginia car crash in 2005. Photos of a bloated D had also surfaced online—shocking the fans of the once ripped singer. A year later, he unexpectedly resurfaced on J Dilla’s posthumous compilation, The Shining. The track later appeared on Common’s Finding Forever.
Snoop Dogg ft. Dr. Dre and D’ Angelo “Imagine,” The Blue Carpet Treatment (2006)
Months after his guest spot on The Shining, D guested on Snoop Dogg’s “Imagine”—a standout on the West Coast Don’s platinum-selling, Blue Carpet Treatment.
Q-Tip ft. D’ Angelo “Believe,” The Renaissance (2008)
It’s already been four years since D’s been on a rap project. His last appearance was on Q-Tip’s “Believe.”