If anyone knows the latest on the near-reclusive R&B sage who goes by D'Angelo, it would be Roots' drummer and NYU professor ambassador Questlove.
Lately, he's spent a great deal of his free time outside of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" laying down drum tracks for D'Angelo's perennially-anticipated follow up to 2000's classic LP, "Voodoo." And according to Quest, not only is the album nearly finished, but it's sounding like an instant classic.
"I'm heading out to Asia right now praying that we're still on schedule for when we said we were going to turn that record in," Questlove told Billboard. "All last week, I was in the studio finishing (the album). We spent close to 18 hours, well not me personally because I have to go to 'Fallon,' but usually right after work. He's the only person that I'll actually go to the studio with and stay there to six in the morning, re-doing these drum parts. I won't even do that for my own band, but I'll do it for him. Right now, we're just tightening up the loose ends. But I still stand by, 99% of it is done."
Since it's 2000 release, "Voodoo" has been almost universally acclaimed -- a sprawling, effortlessly visionary work that sounded incredibly ahead of its time, yet brought D's many muses (Stevie Wonder, George Clinton, Marvin Gaye, etc) into present-day context. Questlove's got similarly strong words to describe D'Angelo's long-brewing third LP:
"I would not be far off by saying this is probably my generation's version of Sly (and the Family Stone's) 'There's a Riot Goin' On.' It's potent. It's funky. It's an extremely hard pill to swallow. He's one of those artists that have, of course, taken 13 years to follow up a record. It's going to take you about 10 years to digest this record. Totally brilliant. Just the way this society works with music… being able to judge if something is a classic after the first listen, you can do that after thirty seconds on this. And the fact that we started this record in 2004, and it still sounds like it came out five years from now, it is a testament to the timelessness of it."
Since 2004, the music world has seen plenty of false alarms regarding D'Angelo's untitled third album, though Questlove is fairly certain it'll be submitted for review by February, setting up a potential release during the calendar year.
"If this record is not turned in by February, then something is extremely wrong. Because we worked to the bone in the entire month of January just to tighten up all the loose ends."
Last year, D'Angelo took part in a series of covers and jam sessions alongside The Roots and others Jun. 10 at Bonnaroo, marking his first U.S. performance in a decade. With the Roots, Quest has a pair of albums slated for a 2013 release: the band's 17th studio album and a just-announced collaborative effort with Elvis Costello.