D’Angelo ‘Verzuz’ show features H.E.R., Method Man among special guests
The neo soul artist is the first to do a solo performance on the 'Verzuz' online concert series, though he shared the stage with other popular artists
The popular online music series Verzuz hit another milestone on Saturday with it’s first solo performance: D’Angelo.
Promoted as “Verzuz Presents: D’Angelo and Friends,” the enigmatic R&B star performed and played his catalog live from New York City’s Apollo Theater.
D’Angelo was accompanied by DJ Scratch as he delighted his fans with selections from his three acclaimed albums and was joined by special guest musicians H.E.R. and Keyon Harrold, as well as rappers Method Man and Redman.
Verzuz, founded by prolific producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, has usually been in “battle” form with two performers playing their songs back to back. D’Angelo stated as he walked on stage, “For those of you who said this would be one of the first solo Vezuz’s ever, well, you were right.”
After over 50 minutes of DJ Scratch warming up the virtual audience, playing a wide array of classics from Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly and El DeBarge to Usher, Jodeci and Notorious B.I.G., D’Angelo emerged and positioned himself behind a Fender Rhodes piano as he greeted the audience.
D’Angelo then introduced Harrold, who has played in his touring band, The Vanguard. Harrold played his trumpet as D’Angelo sang and played Rhodes to open the night with some positive energy. From there, DJ Scratch launched into playing a medley of cuts from D’Angelo’s 1995 debut Brown Sugar, starting with his hit cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Cruisin’.”
The four-time Grammy-winner was singing live over the tracks, often adding improvised flourishes on the electric piano. The first surprise guests, Method Man and Redman, arrived to reprise their verses on D’Angelo’s “Left & Right” from 2000’s Voodoo.
Later on in the evening, H.E.R. came out with an acoustic guitar and commenced to singing her hit “Best Part.” D’Angelo played Rhodes along with her while singing verses from his 1998 duet with Lauryn Hill, “Nothing Even Matters.” Both artists gushed at each other with admiration, prompting fans in the comments to plead for a collaboration between the two.
D’Angelo and DJ Scratch also played selections from D’Angelo’s latest album, 2014’s Black Messiah, including the Grammy-winning “Really Love.” The two put a cap on the two and half-hour show with two of D’Angelo’s most popular songs, “Brown Sugar” and “Untitled (How Does It Feel).”
While this was the first solo Verzuz, it wasn’t intended to be. According to Billboard, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz confirmed that the original plan was to do a traditional one-on-one episode on Valentine’s Day with D’Angelo being paired with fellow Grammy-winning R&B singer/songwriter Maxwell. When Maxwell couldn’t be secured for the event, it was decided that D’Angelo would go it alone.
The number of concurrent viewers on Instagram only reached roughly 170,000 viewers, down from 1.1 million during last month’s Verzuz featuring Ashanti and Keyshia Cole. Despite a lower online turnout, a myriad of high profile viewers made comments in the chat during last night’s event, including Quincy Jones, George Clinton, Snoop Dogg and Common.
Catch the show below:
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