Many thanks to Reader Jeff (an old pal from my Rutgers days) for reminding me about the time Uncle Donnie was invited up on stage at a D’Angelo show to play tambourine. Well, he wasn’t really invited; he just kinda wandered up there. But according to Jeff, Donnie had some mad percussion skills, so much so that D’Angelo didn’t notice him until the encore. Jeff also mentioned the air in the arena was thick with the scent of the stuff we used to smell coming out of “Boner” Bonaski’s room on the weekends. Anyway, Uncle Donnie recently had some words for D’Angelo, and I faithfully reprint them here. Á¢€” RS

TO: D’Angelo
FROM: Don Skwatzenschitz
RE: Career advice

Nine years? Could it really be nine years since you dropped Voodoo on us, made everyone who heard you a fan, wowed everyone who saw you live with one of the great soul tours of the last two or three decades, excited all the women who thought they were seeing you naked in that video (including Mitzi, my wifeÁ¢€”you remember her, don’t you? Five-three, pink and blue floral housecoat, loves cooking with G-13)? Nine years? Halley’s Comet might not come around as often as you release records, but at least we know when we’ll see it again.

That Spin magazine article from last year got us all worried about your apparent drinking problem, but it also gave us hope. Half an album nearly done, maybe even a little more, and progress being made toward completing it? It reminded us you were out there, somewhere, working through your problems, yes, but also creating again. It whetted the appetite, but that’s all. And hell, Maxwell is even back with a new single, a tour, and (allegedly) an album on the way. He also looks like he’s taken to wearing a Mario Van Peebles mask around all day, every day.

Nine years? Time to get back in the game, buddy. But if you don’t want to, I understand. I have some alternatives for you, though. What do you think about the following?

  • Replace ODB in Wu-Tang Clan. Sad to say, when I first saw your mug shot from 2005, I expected it to start rapping “Shimmy-Shimmy Ya,” not singing “Devil’s Pie.” Perhaps a few months in the slums of Shaolin, learning to protect ya neck as you’re shown the ways of the Wu-Tang, would help mellow you out a bit. Focus the mind, then smoke it out when Method Man arrives at the studio. I’d rather hear a follow-up to Voodoo, but this would make a decent Plan B.
  • Clean Prince’s pool. Or Stevie Wonder’s. Or Dr. Dre’s. Or Common’s. Does Alicia Keys have a pool? You need to get in close proximity to someone whose creative vision is so explosive, it would blast you back into a studio tout de suite. Some people just need a little nudge in the right direction to truly rediscover their muse. You, my friend, obviously need some sort of supernova.
  • Form a Supagroup. You could join forces with some other hip-hop/R&B talents who aren’t doing much these days. T-Boz, SisqÁƒ³, Dionne Farris, maybe even Meshell Ndegeocello. Tone-Loc could rap. Teddy Riley could produce. I could manage you, unless Suge Knight becomes interested. Think of what an amazing record that grouping could produce. We might even be able to interest someone like David Foster in coming up with a track or two. I think he’d like SisqÁƒ³.
  • Get your own late night talk show. Hell, if Jimmy Fallon can have one Á¢€¦
  • Work at a Post Office. Civil service gigs aren’t bad. Put in your time, and they’re relatively secure. Of course, you have to keep track of postage rates (what does a first-class stamp go for these days? A buck? Five bucks? And what the hell is a “forever stamp?” Sounds like the beginning of a come-hither song, like it was some sort of permanent mark you’d leave on a woman after a night of loviny-doviny. There you goÁ¢€”run with that one. No charge!
  • Fake your death. Sad to say, you have to be proven to be alive before this works, and no one has seen you in years (except for that mug shot). You might be that one artist in 500 for whom this strategy would not work. You gotta start living, man. Then we can kill you off.

I love you, man.Á‚  I seriously hope you pull through and make music again.

All the best,

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About the Author

Rob Smith

Rob Smith is a writer, teacher, wage earner, and all-around evil genius who spends most of his time holed up in his cluttered compound in central PA. His favorite color is ultramarine blue. His imaginary band The Dukes of Rexmont tours every summer.

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