D'Angelo's Black Messiah was released late Sunday night (Dec. 14) to rave reviews; it was the first studio-quality music from the renowned singer in nearly 15 years. According to The New York Times, you weren't the only one who hadn't heard the third D'Angelo LP until Sunday—neither had his label executives.

For the decade-and-a-half after Voodoo, there wasn't much new D'Angelo to hear—a stray live recording here and there from his 2012 live dates, but nothing in the way of a formal release. Then, all of a sudden, it was upon us: Single, listening session, album. Now, it appears that the surreptitious roll-out wasn't the product of a year-long orchestration. According to interviews conducted by the Times, the impetus for Black Messiah's release was the August killing of Michael Brown (and the subsequent non-indictment of his killer, a police officer named Darren Wilson). Sources say that D'Angelo was so moved by protests in Brown's memory—and the memory of others, like New York's Eric Garner—that he felt he needed to say something. "The only way I do speak out is through music," the singer said.

D'Angelo's manager, Kevin Liles, recalls a phone call he received after Wilson's non-indictment. D'Angelo was incredulous, asking, "Do you believe this? Do you believe it?" So despite RCA's hopes to put out the record in 2015, a team of engineers worked well into (and often throughout) the night for weeks to finish the record in a timely fashion. A creative consultancy firm responsible for the artwork was "able to put six months' worth of work into two weeks."

Black Messiah is available now.