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R&B singers (rappers, too) have a tendency to fall off sharply, but D’Angelo’s decline was truly epic in nature. The Richmond, VA native went from s-ex symbol to a bloated struggle rapper lookalike right before our eyes, whenever he managed to appear in public. But the “Devil’s Pie” singer looks like he’s cleaned up (he is set to appear at Jay-Z’s “Made In America” festival) and is ready to add some new music to his tragically limited catalog.

GQ Magazine spoke at length with the enigmatic soul crooner for its June 2012 issue, tackling the man born Michael Archer’s drinking, and drug, problem without hesitation. What made him clean up? A storied Hip-Hop producer that passed away too soon named James “J Dilla/Jay Dee” Yancey.

What finally made him see, he says, was the passing of J Dilla, the revered hip-hop producer, on February 10, 2006. They’d just talked on the phone, D’Angelo says, when suddenly, J Dilla was gone at 32 after a long battle with lupus. It was like a blinding light had been switched on. Why did so many black artists die so young? He’d been haunted by this thought for years. Marvin. Jimi. Biggie. “I felt like I was going to be next. I ain’t bullshitting. I was scared then,” he says, recalling how shame engulfed him, preventing him from attending the funeral. “I was so f-cked-up, I couldn’t go.”

Read the rest of the story here, peep photos of D’Angelo in the gallery.



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Photos: GQ

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