International celeb – Erykah Badu
ERYKAH BADU, 46, launched her career 20 years ago with her iconic album, Baduizm. Years later she remains a pioneer.
The day of 11 February has seen its fair share of iconic moments: in 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from Robben Island after serving 27 years in prison. In 1994, the late singer Prince premiered his classic hit song, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World. In 1997, a 25-year-old Erykah Badu released her groundbreaking debut album, Baduizm. At a time when the likes of Brandy and Monica were music’s IT girls, Erykah emerged as a breath of fresh air. Quirky and ethereal, she donned a head wrap and long flowy dresses. She also gave us a new sound: neo-soul that fuses jazz, hip hop and R&B. Tracks such as On and On, Next Lifetime and Other Side of the Game carried the themes of black pride and self-love. That’s what Erykah did – she pioneered a new mindset and before we knew it, doeks and dreadlocks became cool again. Proving her prowess, Baduizm went on to win two Grammy Awards for Best R&B – beating established artists like Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige and Boyz II Men – and Best R&B Female Vocal for On & On. And who could forget global breakup anthem Tyrone? In a recent interview, the singer reflects on the Baduizm album: “I just wanted to share how I felt and hope that I could spark feelings in others. I thought it was more of a movement
“IT’S THERE’S NOTHING TO SAY, I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO WRITE.”
for creativity and self-expression. I take my time and write what I feel. If there’s nothing to say, then I don’t have anything to write.” Three years after Baduizm, the songstress released Mama’s Gun, Worldwide Underground,
and New Amerykah Part One and Part Two followed in 2008 and 2010, respectively. In 2015, ‘Kween Badu’ dropped her remake of Drake’s Hotline Bling, which made part of her mixtape, But You Caint Use My Phone. Two decades later, Erykah remains unapologetic about her eccentric sound and image, and has gone on to garner even more accolades. A true career chameleon, we’ve seen the artist host a TV show, produce, and perform in the Lone Star Circus. She also became a certified doula (a woman who supports and advices women during and after birth), and her clients call her Erykah Badoula. When it comes to her own children – Seven Sirius, 20, Puma Sabti, 13, and Mars Merkaba, 8 – Erykah raises them as a single parent. The kids have different fathers, André 3000 of OutKast, The D.O.C and Jay Electronica. Speaking to People, she said: “No one chooses to raise children alone.” To the
Telegraph she said, “When you’re in a relationship you want it to work. But we’re not taught how to make it work. We aren’t taught about human interaction, about relations with the opposite sex.” Despite that, the songstress insists she has many women she looks up to for inspiration and support. “I come from a long line of strong matriarchs. I live in a queendom, ruled by a womb-iverse. My maternal grandmother’s advice is: ‘Keep living — it’ll come to ya.’ My paternal grandmother says: ‘Just let God do it.’” In turn she describes the woman she is as one that has “gone through much heartache, enough to dedicate my whole life to trying to figure them out,” and that music has been a great release. “Being honest is my job,” she explains. “That’s what music is for me.”
The three baby-daddies are all very much involved with co-parenting with her. Speaking to Celebricity.com, Erykah said, “Infidelity is not a deal-breaker for me. We’re all born sexual beings. I myself am not someone with a very high libido. I don’t require sex for happiness – I need companionship. I need a partner I can depend on, that I can love and grow with. But I do understand the nature of these men I’ve been with, and men in general. They have a need to chase.”
On people judging her on having more than one baby daddy, the singer isn’t shy to retaliate: “Every relationship I have been in was because I loved the person dearly and I was dedicated to us exclusively for a number of years. The fathers of my children are my brothers and friends, we have a great deal of respect for one another and always will.” Erykah remains a hopeful romantic and recently announced the new boo in her life is producer and writer, Carl Jones.
When you’re a star of this calibre, controversy will accompany your journey. For her 2010 music video for
Window Seat, Erykah is seen undressing while walking through downtown Dallas. As she’s about to get completely naked, she’s shot dead in the head in the video, falling in the same spot as former American leader, President Kennedy in 1963. She was charged with disorderly conduct for appearing nude in public and slapped with a R6 500 fine. Undeterred, the artist (who describes herself as a ‘mother first’) is still a touring artist, giving fans all over the world a taste of the Baduizm we’ve come to know her for: authenticity.
THIS PAGE: KWEEN BADU’S ALBUMS HAVE SERVED AS A BALM FOR THE SOUL FOR MANY. IT’S HER HONESTY AND BRAZENNESS, THAT DRAWS US IN – AND KEEPS US COMING BACK.