This month, Victoria walks us through the magic and her memories of Erykah Badu.
One of the most transcendent and overwhelming musical moments I’ve experienced was seeing Erykah Badu play at Field Day a couple of weeks ago. Maybe it was all the overpriced wine I’d been drinking, maybe it was homesickness from having to leave my beloved mecca of North London after the festival was relocated south to Brockwell Park, but watching an icon, looking like some sort of heaven sent unearthly alien goddess was a gift that more than made up for the tragic drunken loss of my sunglasses and two leg injuries from tripping over various objects throughout the day. Getting to watch a musician whose music has been a staple throughout your life on a summer night surrounded by friends is a unique feeling that’s almost impossible to articulate adequately.
I was only four when Badu’s iconic ‘Baduizm’ was released. It’s an album that soundtracked my childhood, courtesy of my older brother and Dad, and one that I’ve continued to return to on an almost weekly basis and am frequently preaching its importance to anyone who will listen, and playing it over the office speakers way too regularly.
Every track compliments the preceding song perfectly, blurring genres and influences with no filler and propelling Badu into a figurehead of neo-soul and the afrofuturist movement. It’s a record that fills me with a rare warmth of nostalgia that can only be found from the music that accompanied your formative years.
Two years after Badu blessed us with the masterpiece of ‘Baduizm’, The Roots dropped ‘You Got Me’ a single featuring Erykah singing the hook, and Eve rapping the second verse. It encapsulates the vibe of late 90s hip-hop, complete with a moody music video featuring Black Thought sullenly wandering though a post-apocalyptic New York and Badu inexplicitly leaning against some lockers and looking incredibly beautiful.
The most special part of the song – and what really sets it apart, amplifying it to the level of winning a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance comes towards the end, with Badu singing the hook for an entire minute, as the instrumental fades out, pushing her vocals into the forefront accompanied by a classic Questlove drum line, flawlessly highlighting Badu’s outrageously sweet vocals and Questlove’s unmistakable, instantly recognisable groove and skill.
It’s one of the tracks that I can listen to on repeat endlessly and never tire of, it’s another example of Badu’s otherworldly talent, and of just how good music can be.