Nine Reasons Why I Chose to Write a Book About 24-Carat Black’s Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth

Zach Schonfeld on the significance of 24-Carat Black’s legacy I realize that 24-Carat Black’s 1973 soul-funk masterpiece may seem like an unlikely choice for the 33 1/3 treatment. I also realize that much of the target audience for this book series may not be especially familiar with 24-Carat Black. As I write in the book’s introduction, “Its influence is largely invisible. It never sold ten million copies. It doesn’t show up on Rolling Stone lists of the 500 greatest albums of all time. At the time of writing, it doesn’t…

An Interview with 24-Carat Black’s Saxophonist and Road Manager

Zach Schonfeld in conversation with Jerome Derrickson While researching and reporting my 33 1/3 book about 24-Carat Black’s progressive funk masterpiece Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth, I tracked down and interviewed ten surviving members of 24-Carat Black. (Some from the group’s original lineup, others from the group’s Chicago-based second lineup.) These interviews were long and fascinating, full of vivid recollections of 24-Carat Black’s unusual rise and fall, but—for obvious reasons of space and narrative flow—I could only quote small portions of them in the book. So I figured I could use this…

A discussion on D‘Angelo’s Voodoo

Voodoo album cover image

It’s here! The latest episode of the Bloomsbury Academic Podcast features Faith Pennick (@FaithPennick), author of D’Angelo’s Voodoo, discussing the legacy of the acclaimed 2000 album that skirts all definitive labels.  With not one song under four minutes in length, Voodoo takes its time. It is a leisurely paced work of art backed by a steady beat that does not waver, while lyrics like “And I hoped by chance I’d see you once again / I’d love to kiss your lips, baby, once again” (“One Mo’Gin”) and “I need someone to hold me / Bring me back to life before I’m dead” (“The Root”)…

D’Angelo’s Age of “Soulquarius” – Part Two

A deeper thread is unraveled when an Aquarius is a Black man. “The key definition, I believe, of being African American…is tied into anti-Blackness,” astrologer Samuel Reynolds explained. “So, an Aquarian Black man is going to be immensely sensitive to how he both functions on that perimeter and also be attentive to others who function in that throwaway space, in those spaces where they’re not visible or heard.”  On Voodoo, D’Angelo touched on those exact themes with cuts like “Devil’s Pie,” “Africa,” and “Greatdayindamornin’.” He embraced masculinity without being poisoned…

Voodoo: Live from New York

Faith Pennick, author of D’Angelo’s Voodoo, on seeing D’Angelo perform for the first time. Live performances are like power outlets to me. I can plug in and share that surge of electricity the band or singer brings song after song. I had never seen D’Angelo on stage prior to the Voodoo tour.  A good friend in Brooklyn invited me to see him at Radio City Music Hall in March 2000. I was curious about what D’Angelo would be like in concert, and how songs from his just-released album would resonate in…

Catching the Spirit

Faith Pennick, author of D’Angelo’s Voodoo, on how gospel music inspired D’Angelo’s critical acclaim. Like many African American singers who hail from the South, D’Angelo’s foundation is laid in gospel music. Much has been said and written about his R&B influences: artists like Marvin Gaye, Sly and the Family Stone, and his North Star: Prince. But without gospel music, D’Angelo simply would not be D’Angelo. As a child, Michael Archer sang and played keyboards in his father’s and grandfather’s churches in and near his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. He contemplated staying…

Video Vault, Episode 2: Whitney Houston

Welcome back for the second installment of our new weekly series, in which the 33 1/3 staff take turns picking one of our favorite videos and offering it up for your Friday viewing pleasure. This week, editorial assistant Kaitlin Fontana takes a turn. I’m an unabashed rock ‘n’ roll fan, as one is pretty much consigned to be when one is from a small town in Western Canada. From toddler to teen I subsisted on a diet made up of equal parts Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Springsteen (with the…