I can’t particularly recall the exact moment Erykah Badu was introduced to me. There is a vague memory of watching MTV back in the day and seeing her for the first time, sitting at a counter top dressed in bright colors fanning her problems away to the back beat of Dr. Dre. “Bag Lady??!” I surely questioned, while her left field neo soul seeded my brain.
Although she never became an obsession of mine, Erykah and her music seemed to float in and out of my life throughout the years at precise moments to leave an impression. So when we finally arrived to our plastic foldup chairs (literally banded together) disguised as venue seats, I gazed to my left at the picturesque ocean, pulled my neighbors elbow out of my side and decided, “Hey! This is gonna be GREAT.” And it was.
The night started with introductions to her band and back up vocalists at the beginning of the set rather than pause the flow half way through to do so. Each of the band members and backup took their opportunity to showcase what it is they do (and do well), giving us 15 minutes of glorified jammy jam jam time before Erykah graced us with her illuminating presence.
“I don’t know what I’m singing” were the first words uttered from Erykah to her audience, which was hilarious to me. Luckily, the rest of the audience thought so as well. The chuckling came to a lull hush as she eased into the jazzy “Orange Moon” from the album I’m probably most familiar with, Mama’s Gun.
Next came the soulful “Master Teacher” which was supported with psychedelic visuals displayed behind her before she asked if she could “bring it back to Baduizm.” Clearly a crowd favorite, everyone rose from their seats to sing and sway along to “Other Side of the Game.”
Familiar key strokes sounded off and “Window Seat” started. By then Erykah had invited any and every one to come up out of their seats to join her at the front of the stage, to which many obliged. This song really resonated with me and even more so seeing it live in person. “Can I get a window seat, I don’t want nobody next to me,” Erykah’s emotions poured like honey through the mesmerized crowd via her raspy vocal tone. Another high point for this set was the beautifully melancholy “Time’s a Wastin’” which she sang to a young man who had just graduated high school onstage (I believe it was her nephew if I remember correctly).
Ms. Badu is the type of artist you don’t need to know each and every one of her songs to enjoy. You can come, listen, vibe, sing or sway along to the grooves and take something special away from the experience. There is an aura about her spirit that is seemingly all-knowing and extremely positive that evokes a smile in anyone that hears her music, at least it did that night. For more Erykah in your life, check out some of our Core offerings: Concrete Beats, The Blvd. and Rhythm Nation to start. Badu on!
– Submitted by Tristan Bolden, Music Design