Erykah Badu is constantly evolving and expanding the concept of what it means to be an artist. Her enchanting voice, her mystique and her unpredictability are just some of the reasons why she is one of the most important artists of her generation. Houston, Texas had the opportunity to witness, on May 21, 2011 where Ms. Badu currently is at on her musical journey.
She began the show with her temperamental and transcendent tale of woe “Green Eyes”. She has said a number of times that performing is her therapy and onstage she shares openly in a way that is both entrancing and liberating for people in the audience. When she went into the autobiographical “Me”, some people in the room stood up immediately with their hands raised, as if she were singing about them. It became apparent then that this would be a group therapy session and not just one for Badu.
Badu and her band have a way of hypnotizing the crowd and turning everyone in the room into what she calls “one living, breathing organism.” As she flashed back to the days of BADUIZM with “On & On”, “Apple Tree” and “No Love”, the spirit came and fluctuated as Badu elongated each song to her heart’s desire. Onstage, she is like a mad scientist, constantly experimenting with, changing and concocting the groove.
The stirring “Other Side Of The Game” built up to a gospel-like fervor with Badu exercising her range to the band’s bewitching soundscape and the call and response of her background singers. Then she took everyone ‘way back’ with “Love Of My Life” and inserted classic Hip Hop covers like Slick Rick’s “La Di Da Di”. Because her voice and music can be so hypnotic, there were moments when she had to use rhythm to jar the audience out of a trance. During “Danger” she jokingly asked the audience if they had seatbelts on which weren’t allowing them to get up and move.
The show came to a powerful climax with “Soldier” and Badu exited the stage after asking for a “Window Seat”. The crowd left knowing that she is still as awesomely free-spirited as ever. And more than likely, they were feeling that her music had in some way, cleverly, freed them as well.
About the Writer
Terrence Lathan is a music enthusiast based in Houston, Texas and the curator of HueSoul.com.