Faith Pennick, author of D’Angelo’s Voodoo, on how astrology shaped D’Angelo’s music.
[Click here to read part one]
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 by its looming toxicity (although the raps on track three, “Left and Right,” were a bit of a wrong turn).
An Aquarian man’s embrace of the “perimeter” can also include sincere expressions of femininity. D’Angelo did not turn a deaf ear to his anima in Voodoo, or as Reynolds described it, his willingness “to deal with the softness.” Chapter five of my book, “The Feminine Mystique,” delves into that in depth.
Even with the Soulquarians as unofficial conspirators, it was clear that Voodoo was a D’Angelo joint. His voice. His passion. His spirit. To this day, despite the inordinate amount of work Questlove put into Voodoo, it is made clear by both parties that he did not co-produce the album with D’Angelo. In that vein, Reynolds jokingly compared D’Angelo to a railroad conductor:
“Everybody on board! But never forget it’s my train.”
This fits yet another astrological trait of D’Angelo that may at first glance appear contradictory to the warm team player of Aquarius.
Born February 11, 1974 in Richmond, Virginia, D’Angelo’s (né Michael Archer) Aquarius sun and Jupiter are conjoined, nearly at the same degree. The result is Jupiter contributing to the expansion of his sun in Aquarius.
TL;DR that translates into D’Angelo having a big ego. In D’Angelo’s case, Reynolds said these planets also “square” with Mars, creating what he called a “dynamic tension.” [Square = planets from the Earth’s perspective located 90 degrees from each other.]
“[D’Angelo] struggles with both having the grandiosity of a vision, wanting to make it happen, but then going toward particular excesses… of all kinds,” Reynolds continued. “He wants to accomplish so much, that suddenly he’s faced with the fact that [he’s] human. It’s crushing. He falls to earth. Maybe even falls to pieces.”
Cue D’Angelo’s battles with alcohol and drug addiction in the 2000s.
I started part one of this post paying tribute to the camaraderie of the Soulquarians, with D’Angelo and Questlove at its core. With the timeless Voodoo album celebrating its 20th anniversary last month, it’s clear that they raised their collective game at Electric Lady. When I asked Reynolds what these talented Black Aquarians bestowed onto each other, he offered a succinct and perfect answer:
“A license to be themselves.”
Can’t get enough astrology talk? Luckily D’Angelo’s Voodoo is coming out next week! Pre-order your copy today.