12 O'Clock Track: D'Angelo, "Send It On"

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An unlikely source of making DAngelos Voodoo make sense.
  • An unlikely source of making D'Angelo's Voodoo make sense.
I'm a huge R&B fan, but D'Angelo's 2000 album Voodoo never really clicked for me, despite its reputation as one of the finest albums of the aughts. I was a fan of a lot of the Soulquarians' (an assemblage of musicians that included D'Angelo, J Dilla, keyboardist James Poyser, and members of the Roots, whose drummer ?uestlove is the "mastermind") music at the time, but for most of the past decade felt like the recording sound was often too dry and the lyrics too heavy-handed. Leave it to Undeclared—Judd Apatow's early-2000s sitcom about college life, now streaming on Netflix—of all things, to finally make the album hit home. Apatow scores many of the awkward romantic encounters with D'Angelo's "Untitled (How Does It Feel)," which has a famous music video in which the singer is featured in the buck down to the top of his groin. In the show's context, I started to hear how Voodoo works so well as background music that grows deeper the closer you examine it. Over the past few days, I've been bumping Voodoo nonstop; its resemblance to Prince's Sign O' the Times-era music is obvious now. And right now my favorite track is "Send It On," a slinky, live-band slow jam featuring the excellent horn work of Roy Hargrove. I absolutely love the way silence is used in the song, letting bass notes linger over hi-hat tapping on the one and two, and cannily using horns and layered vocals to fill up the chorus. Mellow your mind below the cut.

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