Erykah Badu where are you? One Dallas fan’s personal Top 5
It's rare that an artist comes along and totally change the music scene the way Erykah Badu did in the late 90's. Though Mary J. Blige remains my favorite female artist, her contributions to the Black Music experiece are not the same those made by South Dallas' own E. Badu.
As my college days progressed, female R&B was dominated by groups like SWV, Total, and Xscape while the aforementioned M.J.B. was just beginning to gain her footing as the queen of hip hop soul. Many of the songs when revisited today have suspect vocals and cookie cutter beats but still jam if for no other reason than taking you back to where you were when the songs were hot.
If there was a precursor to Ms. Badu's brand of "Neo Soul" it would have to be Zhane. The duo's sultry vocals backed by lie instruments were unique for the time, and their music still sounds good today.
Enter 1996's Baduism and it's first single On and On. Videos were still a big deal back then, and the image of Badu is still impresed upon my brain. It was apparant from the start that she was destined for stardom, but what wasn't apparent was that someone with so much soul was from (Sunny South) Dallas, Texas.
The CD was outstanding and her stellar studio work was surpassed only by her skills as a live performer. The Booker T. Washington alum is a trained dancer also plays instuments during her concerts.
It's amazing that someone with so much talent and such a loyal following has released so little material. She teases us with singles and collaborations here and there but no albums since 2003's Worldwide Underground. With 10 cuts including and intro, outro, interlude and remix (Love of My Life) it's hard to really count that one as an album. But Badu fans have to take what we can get.
Here are my 5 favorite Erykah Badu songs to date. Feel free to let me know what you think.
Smooth, Jazzy, this is a song that evokes memories of the great female vocalists. As in so many of her songs, Ms. Badu does so much with so little; smooth base line, simple drum beat, and simple honest lyrics. "What you gonna do when they come for you? Work ain't honest but it pays the bills."
The song actually starts with Other Side of the Game playing in the background and even serves as a bit of a companion song. While on OSTG she sounds like a young girl trying to reason with her man to get out of the drug game, on Danger she sounds like a woman who's been in the game for a while complete with extra cash, yeyo, and Mama's Gun. The music bumping and vocals are coming at you from all over the place.
One from a number of colaboration projects. Love of My Life, Erykah Badu's Ode to Hip Hop, teams here with rapper Common. Of course the frist few times that you hear the song it sounds like a garden variety relationsihip song. That's all good, but listening to the song in its original context gives it a whole different feel. And for fans of the genre, many can relate to ups and downs Common and Badu describe with hip hop, but we still love it.
This song immediately put Erykah Badu on the map. At the time, the only thing to compare her with was Arrested Development of Tennessee fame, but her lyrics were more complex. "I was born under water, With 3 dollar$ & 6 dimes. Yeah, U may laugh 'Cuz U did not do yo math." On and On along with Baduizm in it's entirety gave way to a whole new expression of Black Music.
I was hooked from the moment that I first heard the familiar (for the older set) crackling sound of a needle being placed on an old record followed by "My Eyes are green, cause I eats a lot of vegetables. It don't have nothing to do with your new friend." The first movement, a throwback with only a horn and piano is a playful attempt to hide the pain caused by a lover who has found comfort in someone else.
The lyrics of the second movement are a haunting introspective of insecurity with which many of us can relate. This part is backed by a simple jazz grouping of drums, bass, piano, and the trademark flute that is present throughout her career. Wistful contemplation is what I feel.
The songs final movement brings the horns back. The naivety and anxiety of the first two acts are replaced by hopeful desperation. On wonders how anyone can let themsel get to that point, but
By the time
HM Bag Lady (Mama's Gun), Tyrone (Erykah Badu Live), Apple Tree (Baduizm), Bump It (Worldwide Underground), Southern Girl