Erykah Badu 12. 52. 52.

I first heard Baduizm in 2013. Late to the party considering the album had been introduced to the world 16 years prior, but I was glad to have finally made it despite the obvious tardiness. Her “I work at pleasin’ me cause I can’t please you’ attitude was infectious, and at 23 was exactly the sort of voice I wanted to hear.

The album is utterly captivating. Badu’s syrup-like voice, acerbic lyrics and casual beats fill each atom. New trickles of sound are uncovered with each listen, reinforcing the variety and depths of Baduizm – it’s a chasm of totally seductive music. Badu started off as a rapper, meaning her songs are infused with an innate sense of rhythm.

It’s been 20 years since the album was released; spotlighting the integral moment in music history BBC Radio 6 celebrated Baduizm in a one hour slot which you can listen to here.

Setting off with Rim Shot, it’s immediately apparent that Badu is assertive, calling out ‘I want a rim shot’ – it’s as if she’s professing herself to be the ringmaster of this blended new sound which populated the mid-nineties. Frequently paired with D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar (released in ’95), the two albums fused R&B, soul, funk and Hip Hop in a fresh concoction. Music writers recognise the albums as bringing neo-soul into popularity.

2nd to bat on the album is On and On, perhaps the best known Badu Track. Steady beats, repetitive melodies and easy singalong lyrics that have you humming for days. The music video illustrates a mother caring for her children, burdened by the duties that rest on her shoulders, but beautiful and earthly in her manner of getting them all done. It’s a complete package, and is perhaps what’s made it her most enduring.

Badu lives an unconventional life. Her three children all have different fathers that she’s managed to maintain healthy relationships with. In an interview with Fader, she walks a journalist through her home, seemingly willing to share details of her private life. Her home is bustling with gifted pets, an abundance of intricate artwork and a ton of incense. It’s a space that both invites and captures creativity.

Badu was recently honored at Essence’s 8th annual “Black Women in Music” event. Solange introduced her, citing: ‘She is a beautiful reminder that you cannot put us in the box.’ Badu is multifaceted, as a writer for the New Yorker put it, “She’s regal—but she’s ghetto at the same time.” She’s also put together a Spotify playlist for 2Chainz, ”

Badu’s also put together a Spotify playlist for 2Chainz, “Pretty Girls like Trap Music” series, which is worth a listen.

 

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