A. Before D’Angelo, no one ever heard of “neo soul,” a genre that blends R&B and traditional soul music with elements of jazz, funk, pop, hip hop and African music. His 1995 album, Brown Sugar, has been hailed by music critics as the birth of the new style, whose purveyors would include Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Maxwell and, later, John Legend.
D’Angelo was born Michael Eugene Archer in Richmond, Virginia, to a father who was a Pentecostal preacher. His parents divorced while he was young, and he lived with his mother.
At 12 years old, D’Angelo’s biggest influence was Prince, and he studied his songs diligently. “Everything he did was the bomb,” he said. “And, he could do it all himself. I was one of those kids reading the album credits. I knew back then that I wanted to do that type of s–t.”