"He is about to take a radical 180 turn with this record," said Questlove. "It's going to throw people off the same way that Prince's Dirty Mind threw his R&B fanbase off. In the past few years, he's discovered Bowie and Zeppelin, the Beatles, [the Beach Boys' album] Pet Sounds, Captain Beefheart and Zappa."
D'Angelo, who's set to make his first official U.S. concert return in 12 years at the 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival, has recorded some 30 tracks over the last few years.
As Questlove alluded to before, don't expect his sound to be the same as 2000's Voodoo. "For the last 12 years, he's been strumming the guitar… He is so painfully shy about it. I think in his head, if he doesn't surpass Eddie Hazel, Santana, James Blood Ulmer and Frank Zappa as an axemen, he doesn't want to share it with the world."
But when can fans expect to hear a complete album? "Nothing is official," said Questlove. "We spoke the day after Bonnaroo and he said, 'I'm so happy.' I said, 'Now you just turn in your damn record. Just finish. Just turn it in. Let your children go already.'"
See D'Angelo live at the 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival. Click here to purchase your tickets.