D’Angelo may have done the first solo Verzuz, I mean, who would want to fight him? – but he brought in a very special guest musician to begin his performance at the Apollo on Saturday night.
That would be Keyon Harrold, the veteran trumpeter and member of D’Angelo’s gang whose 14-year-old black son, Keyon Harrold Jr., was falsely accused of stealing an iPhone from a white woman at the Arlo Hotel in Soho last September.
No explanation was needed, as it was broadcast live at the Apollo Theater, a mecca for African-American artists. This was a moment, as Black History Month draws to a close, to remind you of how far we have yet to go, with this distinguished musician, Harrold, introduced with a “very, very dear friend of mine” by the four World Cup Winner. Grammy on the most historic stage of black music.
As I continued to introduce “my brother, a great musician”, it was very clear that this was a moment that the lone star was taking advantage of to reintroduce himself to the masses by showing the humanity that exists in all of us, including the father of a 14 year old who was allegedly assaulted by Miya Ponsetto, 22, nicknamed “Soho Karen”, for doing nothing wrong.
Before even singing a note, D’Angelo had already made a statement.
They then launched into what appeared to be a song in progress, with D’Angelo declaring that “love is something that makes the world go round.” And when Harrold rattled his horn with the neo-soul man on the keys – Lena Waithe very accurately described it as MTV’s “‘Unplugged’ vibes”, in the comments – it was a moment that dissolved any “Verzuz” between the people.
The battle, it seems, ended before it actually began in this latest installment in the Verzuz series which has been one of the most popular virtual series to come out of the COVID era.
After DJ Scratch promoted the party, with the likes of Common, Timbaland, Snoop Dogg and Babyface in attendance, D’AngeIo took the stage around 10 p.m.
But even though this Verzuz had been billed as “D’Angelo & Friends,” he wasn’t actually pitching clues at anyone else. It was all about him.
And who could argue that? Just seeing D’Angelo, sporting a tan hat and matching rag to match his black faux fur coat, was a gift enough for the fans who have been waiting since he last released his album “Black Messiah.” in the end. days of 2014.
YD delivered by releasing some “Friends”: Redman and Method Man appeared to rhyme on “Left & Right,” from D’Angelo’s 2000 masterpiece “Voodoo.” And two-time Grammy winner HER appeared to do the Lauryn Hill part of “Nothing Even Matters” from the 1998 classic “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”
But in the end, this didn’t feel like a true Verzuz, with no one for D’Angelo to actually fight. The obvious choice would have been Maxwell. Just as Erykah Badu and Jill Scott went from diva to diva in a Verzuz early last year, it would have been great to see D’Angelo put his best foot forward against his main neo-soul-man competition.
Still, it’s hard to argue with something that leaves you feeling all the sweetness of “Brown Sugar” on a COVID Saturday night.