D'Angelo took his time making the Black Messiah album - it came 14 years after his previous release, Voodoo. On this track, he explains how things have changed in that time, and explains that he'd like to return to an earlier era, to "go back to the way it was."
The singer says there were a number of factors that contributed to his hiatus, including personal problems and turnover at his record company. He became disenfranchised with the industry and lost his motivation to make another album.
The lines, "So if you're wondering about the shape I'm in, I hope it ain't my abdomen that you're referring to" is a reference to his video for "Untitled (How Does It Feel)," where he appeared naked and extremely buff.
Musically, The Beatles were a big influence on this song, especially their later tracks that featured string sections. Another musical influence was the Funkadelic album America Eats Its Young, which is one of the more string-heavy albums in the group's canon.