Last December, D'Angelo shocked the world by dropping Black Messiah, his first record in nearly 15 years. It's an engrossing, staggering effort, full of lush vocal tracks and expert instrumentation courtesy of D himself and of his band, The Vanguard. What was most surprising, though, for an album that was written and recorded over such a long period of time, was how prescient some of its lyrics proved to be. In a new interview--his first since the album's release--the soul and R&B legend tells Rolling Stone that protests over police brutality made him want to add his voice to the conversation. Now, as he works on a new record that he calls "a companion piece" to Black Messiah, he adds that Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly is his favorite hip-hop record of late. "He's jacked into the roots, he respects the lineage," D says of Lamar, whose sophomore effort broke music streaming giant Spotify's record for single-day album streams, despite lacking conventional hits. The singer also said of the album's musical similarities, "The timing of both was kind of uncanny — it was almost a sign: Motherfuckers are making some shit that's relevant to the times."

In addition to his three classic solo albums, D'Angelo has a long history of collaborations with some of his generation's most revered rappers. Method Man and Redman appear together on "Left & Right" from Voodoo, and D has a storied working relationship with the late producer J Dilla. ?uestlove of The Roots has been instrumental in helping craft the singer's music as well.