D’Angelo is back with a new body, new music and a new outlook on life. He appears in the June issue of GQ in his first shoot in over a decade looking more svelte than we’ve seen him in recent years. D’Angelo talks about his struggles with becoming a sex symbol and how the infamous video for his hit “(Untitled) How Does It Feel” came to be.
Although “Untitled” will go down in history for one of the sexiest music videos ever, it changed D’Angelo’s life and not for the better. The video’s director, Paul Hunter, says his work was misunderstood.
“Most people think the ‘Untitled’ video was about sex, but my direction was completely opposite of that. It was about his grandmother’s cooking.”
Hunter told D to think about the smell of his grandmother’s kitchen, but home cooking never felt so sensual. Even though thousands of women were getting their jollies from an almost 5 minute video, apparently all of us missed the point.
“The veil is the nudity and the sexuality. But what they’re really getting is the spirit.”
Questlove of The Roots, and former drummer for D’Angelo’s band, says the singer felt “tortured” by the pressure to give the audience what it wanted. Worried that he didn’t look as cut as he did in the video, he’d delay shows to do stomach crunches. He’d often give in, peeling off his shirt, but he resented being reduced to that.
“One time I got mad when a female threw money at me onstage, and that made me feel f**ked-up, and I threw the money back at her,” he says. “I was like, ‘I’m not a stripper.’ “
After the 8-month long Voodoo tour in support of his album of the same name, he told Questlove that he was going to “go in the woods, drink some hooch, grow a beard, and get fat.”
After over a decade away from the music business he has worked on over 50 songs but don’t expect an official release date, or title, anytime soon. We can look forward to lyrics like these, which he previewed to Amy Harris: I know you’re wondering where I’ve been / Wondering ’bout the shape I’m in / I hope it ain’t my abdomen.
We have D, and welcome back!