12/17/2014 11:59 am ET Updated Dec 17, 2014

D'Angelo's New Album 'Provides The Funk' That's Been Missing In R&B

Die-hard D'Angelo fans waited nearly 15 years for the talented musician to release any sort of new music. Two weeks before Christmas, those patiently waiting received a hell of a gift.

With only two days' warning, D'Angelo dropped "Black Messiah" on Monday building much anticipation from those who held high praise for his last album, "Voodoo," which released in 2000. Fans (and the Internet) went understandably flipped out, and many pundits are calling the release one of the best of the year.

Marc Lamont Hill hosted a HuffPost Live roundtable Tuesday to chat about recent releases, with "Black Messiah as a focus. The four-person panel — RESPECT magazine editor-in-chief Datwon Thomas, Philadelphia radio personality Layla St. Clair and Duke black popular culture professor Mark Anthony Neal — all agreed: the album is fantastic.

"First of all, it's like the December surprise with nobody expecting the shit," Neal said. "But the fact that folks are just talking about music and any of the other'd be hard-pressed to find literally anybody that could disappear for 15 years and come back 15 years later and still be relevant on a certain level."

The album, record executives have said, wasn't scheduled to be released until early next year, but the singer and the label decide to push the album out quickly in lieu of nationwide protests sparked by the killings of Eric Garner and Mike Brown. To that point, members of the panel said, the value in D'Angelo's triumph is its lyrical content.

"I got to admit, yesterday, I turned on when I was working and I heard it and was like, 'I got to turn this off. I can't concentrate. I got to listen hard,'" St. Clair said. "Go read the made the album even more powerful."

Watch the rest of the clip above, and catch the full HuffPost Live conversation here.

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