The Charade

Album: Black Messiah (2014)
  • This socially conscious track finds D'Angelo singing about America's treatment of black people throughout its history and the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. Black Messiah's political nature was clearly stated at the album's listening party. The LP cover features a photo of outstretched arms from a demonstration, and the back of a lyric booklet that was distributed during the session states, "All we wanted was a chance to talk 'stead we only got outlined in chalk" - a lyric from this song.

    "Black Messiah is a hell of a name for an album. It can easily be misunderstood," D'Angelo explained at the listening session. "For me, the title is about all of us. It's about the world. It's about an idea we can all aspire to. We should all aspire to be a Black Messiah."

    "It's about people rising up in Ferguson and in Egypt and in Occupy Wall Street and in every place where a community had enough and decides to make change happen," he continued. "It's not about praising one charismatic leader but celebrating thousands of them."

    "Black Messiah is not one man. It's a feeling that, collectively, we are all that leader," D'Angelo concluded.
  • D'Angelo wrote the music for this song with Questlove, who previously served as executive producer for the R&B crooner's 2000 album Voodoo. The Roots joint frontman also contributed towards the closing Black Messiah track "Another Life."
  • D'Angelo performed this song during his first ever appearance on Saturday Night Live on January 31, 2015. D'Angelo's band members, the Vanguard, wore T-shirts with the slogans "Black Lives Matter" and "I Can't Breathe" to honor Mike Brown and Eric Garner, two African Americans who were tragically killed by white police officers in 2014. There was also a chalk outline of a body on the floor.

    D'Angelo also sung "Really Love," skimming 20% off the recorded version. The performance marked the singer's first television appearance following the release of Black Messiah in December 2014.
  • In a 2015 Rolling Stone interview, D'Angelo explained: "When I say, 'A chance to talk,' that means a chance to come to the table and exercise rights that are supposed to be ours already."

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