When you mention the name Erykah Badu most people will bring up her recent controversy concerning her video for “Window Seat”, her intensely bohemian back to nature lifestyle, or her early single begging her ex-boyfriend to call his friend Tyrone to help him gather his things, however for me Badu can best be summed up by her first video.
In 1997 Erykah Badu released her first single “On & On” from her debut album, Baduizm, and like most modern artists the video soon followed the song’s release. With its Color Purple meets Cinderella vibe, the public’s first look at Badu as both an artist and a muse that would provide a glimpse at her future career that has lasted over a decade. Her soulful voice sophisticatedly poured out lyrics concerning spirituality, true knowledge, and according to some sources divine mathematics. While she may no longer be the Queen of Neo-Soul, since she doesn’t know what Neo-Soul really is, her ability to string together meaningful lyrics, out there ideas, and a political message here and there, has continued to be a common thread in her music. As she tackles everything from love and women’s issues to whatever being born underwater means, we nod along to her jazz infused melodies and soak up every word that oozes from her mouth.
In the video, Badu also showcases her African goddess meets futuristic diva style when she turns a table cloth into a dress and matching headdress, which became a huge part of her signature look in the 90s. Although she may have eventually given up the turban look, shaved her head, and now rocks an amazing fro, she still exudes the same vibe of a goddess from another dimension. The way in which she embraces and highlights her natural beauty has made her a muse for everyone from the girl around the corner bent on growing her relaxer out to Tom Ford who named her as the face of his White Patchouli fragrance. While we’re discussing Badu the muse, you can’t ignore her effect on a certain dapper dressed, vegan, Atlanta rapper who we’ve discussed via FMM before, overlooking the fact that they share a son and a non meat-eating lifestyle, the two also shared a love of head wraps and super next level ideas.
Just because she’s a vintage loving naturalista, doesn’t mean we all can’t take a page or ten out of Erykah Badu’s book and come to a place where we are fully at peace with who we are, right, wrong or, indifferent. Actually, if her hippy ways and self acceptance could rub off on just those of us who experience her music the world would be a much better and more interesting place and I ain’t mad at that.
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