Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 100 Most Dynamic Debut Albums Ever Made, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
Drawing comparisons to an artist as great as Prince is a professional feat in itself for any musicians, let alone one who is barely of legal drinking age. Youthfulness aside, comparisons like this and others were the rumblings circa 1994 as the Richmond, VA native Michael D’Angelo Archer began writing, composing, and singing for his highly anticipated debut LP Brown Sugar.
D’Angelo had already attracted plenty of industry buzz, as a multiple winner of the coveted Amateur Night at Harlem, NY’s famed Apollo Theater, and writing the lyrics for the star-studded Black Men United’s “U Will Know” for the Jason’s Lyric Soundtrack. Soon thereafter, he emerged as the male face of the growing neo-soul movement upon the release of his 1995 debut album, and lived up to the big expectations he drew en route to releasing his certified masterpiece.
The soulful use of live instruments and the Funk influence of D’Angelo’s vocals returned music lovers to the prime of Donny Hathaway, with an artist who looked like he could have been the lost member of either Digable Planets or A Tribe Called Quest.
Whether allowing his distinct tenor to tantalize the ladies over groovy songs like “Jonz in My Bonz” or “Me and Those Dreamin’ Eyes of Mine,” or dominating the airways with “Lady” and “Brown Sugar,” D’Angelo’s debut helped redefine the sound, look, and feel of R&B for the second half of the ‘90s, while returning the appeal back to the hard-knocks who simply corn-rowed their hair and invited their special lady to snuggle under a warmed Avirex jacket.