Although "Devil's Pie" and "Left & Right" were the first singles released — in 1998 and 1999, respectively — Voodoo really began to cast its spell when "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" dropped on New Year's Day 2000. The song was a new beginning for D'Angelo: Co-written and co-produced by another neo-soul man, Raphael Saadiq, it's a do-me slow jam straight out of the Prince playbook, building to an orgasmic falsetto release (over seven tantalizing minutes on the album version). And of course, it's hard to separate the song from its iconic video featuring a naked and ripped D'Angelo dripping sex appeal all over his washboard abs.
When the Voodoo album arrived, it was clear that D'Angelo wasn't just neo-soul's latest sex symbol -- he was bringing a whole new juju to the genre. Mostly self-produced — with some help from Saadiq and Gang Starr's DJ Premier — the album flows with complex rhythms and arrangements played by ace musicians like Questlove (drums), Pino Palladino (bass), Roy Hargrove (horns) and James Poyser (keyboards). Stretching into uncharted R&B territory, it expanded music and minds.
The ante was upped six months later when Scott released her debut album, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1. Presenting her as an earthy, around-the-way alternative to the ethereal, ankh-rocking Badu, the insta-classic brought something new to neo-soul, introducing spoken word and a personality as strong as those pipes.
Four months later, Badu delivered her second studio album, Mama's Gun. As if she had something to prove now that Scott was a new neo-soul queen on the scene, the LP upped her game from Baduizm much in the same way that D'Angelo did from Brown Sugar to Voodoo. And just as Voodoo is D'Angelo's masterpiece, Mama's Gun is Badu's.
From Amel Larrieux's Infinite Possibilities to Musiq Soulchild's Aijuswanaseing, there were other notable neo-soul albums that came in Voodoo's wake in 2000. There was some powerful mojo in the air. But all that magic came at a cost for D'Angelo, who, due to personal problems and professional pressures, struggled to follow up such a sublime achievement. The weight of the expectations that he had set for with himself with Voodoo had become a burden. He wouldn't release another album until Black Messiah in December 2014.
More than five years later, we're still waiting for the next D'Angelo album. Here's hoping it won't be another 14-year wait.