Although it’s not really a singalong anthem, D’Angelo’s song was, in tandem with his acclaimed album “Black Messiah,” one of the first significant musical works to engage with the then-burgeoining Black Lives Matter Movement.
The song’s dense instrumental build underscores lyrics that depict the desperation and omnipresent hope of Black people fighting for justice against police and white supremacist violence. Its lyrics describe Black victims of shootings, presumably inspired by the likes of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. The Ferguson verdict, in particular, stirred D’Angelo to push the album’s release forward. Now, almost a year after “Black Messiah” was delivered to listeners, the song’s ethos is captured in the design of a new hoodie—the garment Martin was wearing when he was killed.
The $40 zip-up hoodie was just included in the Fall/Winter line at the Okayplayer Shop. The back features the lyrics of the song’s chorus—”All we wanted was a chance to talk, ‘stead we only got outlined in chalk”—printed inside a chalk outline of a body. At the bottom, it says, ”D’Angelo and the Vanguard,” which includes the many musicians who worked on the album, including the song’s co-producer Questlove and co-writer Kendra Foster.