Sade did it. It's been nine years since she released "Lovers Rock," which sold 3.9 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
D'Angelo did it. It's been the same amount of time since he put out his platinum-selling set "Voodoo." Lauryn Hill did it. "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" -- six-times platinum -- came out 11 years ago.
A vanishing act has become practically de rigueur for R&B musicians of a certain caliber (although Sade and D'Angelo are supposed to release albums this fall). Many make a mega-hit album or two, collect Grammy Awards and critical accolades -- and then disappear.
Now, after being on hiatus since 2002, Maxwell is stepping back on the public stage. On July 7, the 36-year-old Brooklyn native will release his long-awaited, often-delayed fourth studio album, "BLACKsummer'snight," the first installment of a trilogy, through Columbia Records. Maxwell first announced the trilogy in 2005, saying the releases would be full of heart-pounding melodies and true-to-life love stories.
"The time away gave me a better appreciation of things, so I took the time I needed to live to make this album something of substance," he says now. "People tend to be so hell bent on remaining famous that you become desensitized to the music industry to some level. But my passion is making music and promoting and supporting great musicians."