Missa Charles Darwin is a multi-movement composition scored for unaccompanied male vocal quartet written by Gregory W. Brown using texts from Darwin compiled and edited by New York Polyphony bass Craig Phillips.
R&B figurehead D'Angelo has his seminal debut album of 1995, Brown Sugar, newly reissued in remastered and expanded 2CD and digital deluxe editions by Virgin/UMe.
The new deluxe edition features the original ten-track album followed by no fewer than 21 rare tracks. These include remixes by CJ Mackintosh, Dallas Austin, King Tech, Erick Sermon and Incognito. The 2CD set will be in a digipak with a 20-page booklet featuring an essay by author-filmmaker Nelson George, rare photographs, and lyrics for the ten original tracks.
By the mid-'90s, most urban R&B had become rather predictable, working on similar combinations of soul and hip-hop, or relying on vocal theatrics on slow, seductive numbers. With his debut album, Brown Sugar, the 21-year-old D'Angelo crashed down some of those barriers. D'Angelo concentrates on classic versions of soul and R&B, but unlike most of his contemporaries, he doesn't cut and paste older songs with hip-hop beats; instead, he attacks the forms with a hip-hop attitude, breathing new life into traditional forms. Not all of his music works – there are several songs that sound incomplete, relying more on sound than structure. But when he does have a good song – like the hit "Brown Sugar," Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin'," or the bluesy "Shit, Damn, Motherfucker," among several others – D'Angelo's wild talents are evident. Brown Sugar might not be consistently brilliant, but it is one of the most exciting debuts of 1995, giving a good sense of how deep D'Angelo's talents run.