Artist of the week: Erykah Badu
Erykah Badu is an American singer-songwriter, producer, activist and actress. She began her musical career opening for D’Angelo, and both would end up been credited as the creators of neo soul, a movement that incorporates elements of soul, R&B, hip hop and jazz in order to reactivate and renew the historical links between diverse genres of Afro-American music. If her musical sensibilities, enchanting voice and delicate phrasing triggered comparisons with the great Billie Holiday, her physical beauty, charisma, unpredictable but always charming personality and her use of colorful headwraps also made her one of the most iconic and recognizable personalities of popular music worldwide.
If her debut, 1997’s Baduizm, immediately propelled her to international success, 2000’s Mama’s Gun, fully played and produced by her fellow Soulquarians, showcased her tremendous versatility with a rawer and gutsier approach. After a divisive extended EP (2003’s Worldwide Underground), a long hiatus of 5 years ended with the release of what is arguably her most challenging and complex work to date, the two dialectic parts of New Amerykah: 4th World War (2008) and Return of the Ankh (2010).
After another long hiatus and when news of her forthcoming sixth LP were starting to sound promising, Erykah releases the mixtape But U Caint Use My Phone, a cohesive collection of songs that gravitates around the theme of human reliance of staying inter-connected. It features a cover of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” that surpasses the original and closes with a stellar duet with Andre 3000. The perfect palette cleanser for some of the overhyped music released in 2015.
João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.