D'Angelo rode a wave of R&B popularity in the '90s before his chiseled body threatened to overshadow his music and he vanished into addiction for more than a decade. Now he's back and attempting to mount a comeback and opens up to GQ about living with addiction, his arrest for soliciting sex and a rumored romance with Madonna.
In his first interview in 12 years, D'Angelo -- who in the past was hailed by some as the next Marvin Gaye -- reveals his long battle with substance abuse. "I didn't really think I had a problem like that. I felt like, you know, all I got to do is clean up and I’ll be fine. Just get in the studio and I’ll be f**king fine."
The R&B star was also plagued by legal troubles beginning in 2002 and even ballooned up to 300 lbs, in part to spite those who admired him. The Roots drummer Questlove, D'Angelo's former bandleader, explains to GQ that at some point, his friend just felt he had to escape stardom.
On the last day of the eight-month (Voodoo) tour, Questlove says D'Angelo told him: "'Yo man, I cannot wait until this fucking tour is over. I'm going to go in the woods, drink some hooch, grow a beard, and get fat.'" Questlove thought he was joking. "I was like, 'You're a funny guy.' And then it started to happen. That's how much he wanted to distance himself."
On his arrest in 2010 for soliciting sex from an undercover officer, D'Angelo says: "It was just me making a stupid decision, a wrong turn, on the wrong night. I'm not the role-model motherf**ker. Look at all the shit that I've been in."
When asked about a past rumored romance with Madonna, D'Angelo explains that when the pop star turned 39, she asked him to sing Happy Birthday at her party. One press report described her as sitting on his lap and French-kissing him. At one point, Madonna walked over and told a woman sitting next to the R&B star, "I think you're in my seat." The woman then got up and Madonna sat down and told D'Angelo, "I'd like to know what you're thinking." To which D'Angelo replied, "I'm thinking you're rude."
For more of GQ's exclusive chat with D'Angelo, pick up a copy of the magazine's June issue or check out the interview online.