I recognize that it’s the job of a music critic to give an objective opinion of the subject that they are reviewing/critiquing. If a music critic just said, “This is great,” about everything they wouldn’t get far. I am not a music critic. I’m not trying to be. I said from the start of this D’aily project that my purpose was to celebrate the music of D’Angelo. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I turn a blind eye toward everything that I find to be subpar. I think I proved over the course of six months that I was willing to be critical of some of Prince’s creative choices if I thought it was relevant (see “Dead On It“). The fact is, of the 49 D’Angelo songs of which I’ve chosen to write, there’s not a single one that I don’t like. Perhaps that seems impossible to some, but it’s true.
There are varying degrees of like. Here’s the best way I can describe it: I make a lot of Smart Playlists in Apple Music. I like smart playlists because they take some of the work out of making a playlist. I have a process for rating songs in my library. You can rate any song on a scale from 1 to 5 stars. My system is simple: a song that I like gets 3 stars. A song that I love gets 4 stars. A song that’s an all-time classic gets 5 stars. I don’t use 1 or 2 star ratings as I’m not making any playlists of songs that I don’t like. Then I can use those ratings to build playlists by saying, “Give me all songs in the hip-hop genre with a 4 star rating or better.” Or, “Give me all songs where the artist includes Prince and the rating is 3 stars or better.” From that point on all I need to do is change a rating and it will automatically add or remove songs from my list. I’m not the only doing this, am I?
I have multiple Prince playlists. One is simply called “Prince” and it has every song by Prince that I have rated 3 stars or better. That playlist currently sits at 266 songs. I use this one if I’m on a long road trip or listening to music while I sit at my desk. I have another one called Prince Hall of Fame that I’ve shared on this site before. Those are my 5 star Prince songs. That playlist has 21 songs. Then if I just feel like hearing my favorite Prince songs I tell Siri to shuffle my Prince Hall of Fame playlist and I get treated to 157 minutes of amazing music.
My point is, every single one of the 49 D’Angelo songs that I’m covering on the D’aily over the course of this fall has a 3 star or better rating. I happen to have a lot of other D’Angelo music that doesn’t all get three stars. For instance, the 2017 deluxe edition of Brown Sugar has 21 remixes, acapellas and instrumentals of the same four songs. They’re not all on my 3 star D’Angelo playlist. I was hoping the deluxe edition would include some I have some recordings of live shows and random studio outtakes that I’ve been able to get my hands on over the years. They’re not all masterpieces. They’re not meant to be. They’re demos and jam sessions. I geek out over them because I love D’Angelo, but they aren’t finished playlist material.
Of the 49 songs on my list, I would only consider demoting five of them to two star songs. The D’aily hasn’t covered any of them yet, until today. Two of them are not from D’Angelo albums. One of them is from his third and most recent album Black Messiah. One comes from his second album, 2000’s Voodoo. The other comes from his 1995 debut album Brown Sugar. “Jonz In My Bonz” is that song.
“Jonz In My Bonz” is the third track from Brown Sugar. It was composed, written, arranged, produced, and performed by D’Angelo. He was 21 years old at the time of its release. So what is it about this song that puts it at the bottom tier of my D’Angelo list? It’s difficult to put my finger on it. I’ll start with this: monotony. There’s only one verse. The rest of the song is D repeating the line “I got a jonz in my bonz. This feeling that I got won’t leave me ‘lone,” with occasional slight variations. The music is the same. 5:55 of the same melody, bass line, and drum loop with little or no change. This song didn’t need six minutes. There just isn’t enough here to fill that amount of time, so after a while you’re thinking, “Yep, he’s got a jonz in his bonz. Got it.” I think it would’ve been more effective as a two minute transition between songs that leaves you wanting more.
Again don’t get me wrong, if I have my music on shuffle and “Jonz In My Bonz” starts playing I’m not skipping it. I just prefer most of D’Angelo’s other songs. I’m not going to harp on it any longer. It’s a good song and I’m not in any position to criticize. I’ve seen “Jonz In My Bonz” on a lot of short lists of favorite D’Angelo songs. Just not mine. Let’s get back to the songs on my 4 and 5 star lists. In fact, tomorrow we get a song that’s not all that old, yet leaves me yearning for the good old days. If you’re a fellow fan of D’Angelo you should be able to figure that one out pretty quickly.
Before I shut it down for today, I want to show off my newest piece of artwork. While writing the D’aily it occurred to me that I have several pieces of Prince artwork throughout my house but none of D’Angelo. I did some searching and found a website called Displate that features artwork printed on metal. An artist there who simply goes by the name of Josh B has created a series of pictures of legendary soul and R&B singers with a few of D’Angelo among them. I chose one and gave it the coveted real estate directly above my turntable, replacing a beloved Prince picture that has already found a new home. The colors of the artwork match the room better and D deserves a spot in my record room. I love the new look of the room and having D’Angelo watching over the room feels much more appropriate as I’m spinning his records every day getting inspiration for these posts.
That’s all for the day. Enjoy your Tuesday.