Title: TBD | Release Date: TBD
In terms of longest breaks between studio albums, D’Angelo has surpassed R&B peers Maxwell (eight years) and Sade (10 years). But from all indications, it sounds like the missing-in-action crooner will formally break his musical silence after 12 years. Manager Kevin Liles of KWL Enterprises ( @kwlmanagement) declines to reveal a specific 2012 release date (or even a month or quarter) at this point. However, he does tell Billboard that D’Angelo is 90%-95% finished with his upcoming RCA project.
Primarily written and produced by the singer/songwriter, the project still doesn’t have a title — despite previous reports that it will be called “James River” — and a first single is still being decided. “We’re going back and forth on what he’s actually going to call the album,” says Liles, who adds, “Of course, Questlove and Q-Tip are involved.”
Warming up in advance of the release, D’Angelo will perform 10 concerts in Europe, kicking off with sold-out shows Jan. 30-31 at Club Paradiso in Amsterdam. A similar stateside trek is still being determined. Liles says, “It depends on exactly when we sit down and figure out the whole game plan with RCA.”
D’Angelo counts two previous studio albums, 1995 debut set “Brown Sugar” and 2000’s “Voodoo.” The former has sold 1.8 million and the latter — No. 1 on the Billboard 200 — has sold 1.7 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan. A greatest-hits CD/DVD collection, “The Best So Far . . .”, featuring the top five R&B singles “Lady” and “Untitled (How Does It Feel),” was released in 2008.
“It’s 12 years of emotion, passion and love for music that has been pent up,” Liles says of the new album. “D’Angelo is finally going to share all of that. It’s a special space where he’s not searching for a song — he’s reaching for your soul.”
D’Angelo is a member of a Liles management roster that includes Trey Songz, Estelle and Keyshia Cole. CEO Liles founded New York-based KWL in 2009 following the industry veteran’s stints as executive VP of Warner Music Group and president of Def Jam.
“We will continue to transform as an industry,” Liles says of the year ahead. “Content will still be king: More people will have that entrepreneurial spirit and release their own material, be their own publicist and street team, create their own moves. We’ll continue to make the tail longer. We’re now on a pace of growth over the next couple of years. I look forward to providing a platform where creative people can be creative, businesspeople can be mentored and [forge] relationships, and we’ll see more and more collaborations — whether it’s distribution systems, peer-to-peer systems, new sponsors — as we continue to grow our business.”
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