February 11, 2017 marks 20 years since the release of Erykah Badu’s groundbreaking debut album, Baduizm. I still remember the first time I saw the music video for “On & On”. The concept was bare bones, comical, witty, quirky and yes, a bit strange. But that’s Erykah Badu at her finest. We may have initially missed why her cypher kept moving like a rolling stone. The groove was so intoxicating though, we really didn’t care. “Rim Shot” was one of the most clever and cool ways to kick off an album. She showcased her edgier, more Hip Hop influenced side there.
Let’s not forget about the fan favorite, “Appletree”. Erykah Badu dismissively harmonizes, “If you don’t wanna be down with me/You don’t wanna pick from my apple tree”. Part of Erykah Badu’s appeal is she has no problem marching to the beat of her own drum. She’s fearless, sexy, brutally honest, cool and sweet all in one breath. She’s so freaking irresistible that it’s easy to see how she got herself in a sticky love triangle on the classic “Next Lifetime”. Although she ultimately decided to stay faithful to her mate, she dangles us by a syrupy, seductive string the whole way through. In case you were wondering, “She’s a lot of woman, but not enough to divide the pie”.
She wasn’t afraid to voice her concerns for a lover caught up in the street life on “The Other Side Of The Game”, the dreary pre cursor to the tweeter bumping, “Danger” (from the Worldwide Underground album). Someone pass me a glass of whiskey. Erykah Badu is an artist of versatility, as evident on songs like the jazzy, blues tale “Afro”. It’s still a shame she spent all that time getting ready and didn’t get to go see Wu-Tang. She is the queen of being unbothered, as exhibited smoothly on songs like the addictive, mellow “Certainly” and the hopeful, yet cautionary “4 Leaf Clover”.
Beneath her tough exterior, Erykah Badu does get vulnerable at times. “No Love” calls out a no good man who has taken her for granted. Don’t mistake it though. She’s not down and out. She’s just simply stating the facts here. Ms. Badu begs for us to lift our hearts up to God on the frustrated “Drama”. This song is just as relevant today (if not more) as it was 20 years ago. She reserves the right to change her mind from one minute to the next, on songs like The Roots produced “Sometimes”.
There are few artists who can look back at the last 20 years of their career with a smile. Erykah Badu was one of the front runners for the new movement of neo soul at the time Baduizm was released. Since then, she has crossed boundaries, color lines and even generations with her music. Cheers to what’s in store for her in the future. Something tells me her staying power and innovative musical creativity will continue to go on and on….and on and on.
So, let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from Baduizm.
Plus, don’t forget to download your copy of my new poetry ebook, Stingrays, at the links below!