Thursday, March 13, 2008

Erykah Badu: Are We Still Friends?

Um, okay so you know as soon as the new E. Badu shizzle dropped, I was up on the internets downloading it. I couldn’t get it on my iPod fast enough. I’ve been a loyal fan for years…but I have to say that her newest offering has left me with some mixed emotions.

Erykah has always appealed to my sense of realism: realism in femininity, relationships, and life. Lyrics like, “This is how I look without makeup…..but I’m cleva….I got a little pot in my belly…but I’m cleva…” made me realize that life is full of physical and emotional imperfections, but that you can also take those imperfections and capitalize on them. It put us on common ground. And paired with brilliant musical backdrops – it was perfect. She seriously spoke to me. I can completely validate LC’s lezzie crush. Word.

But as I’m listening to the new album, I have to admit I feel a bit alienated and conflicted. It should be a goal of every artist to obtain and deepen spiritual, intellectual, and emotional realization (I’m into that shit more than you know and its certainly one of my goals). And its fulfilling when you have the type of connection with an artist where you feel like you’re growing with them and you’re on the same page – a symbiotic relationship of realization, so to speak (cuz I like to think she gets something out of it, too). It was kind of like that with Erykah and me. We were like that. But, damn, now its like we’re growing apart. In New Amerykah, Pt. 1, Erykah gets all controversial and political on me. And I was a bit shocked. Its like that time when George Michael came out and told everyone that he really was gay. I mean, we all had an idea, right? He certainly wasn’t getting one over on me as he danced in pink leggings and keds and sang, “Wake me up before you go go” (and the sex scandal didn’t help much either). But I was still like, Wow – why tell everyone now? Everyone knew anyway. It just makes shit a little awkward.

Well, I just have to say it: Erykah’s shout out to Louis Farrakhan in her track titled, “Me” just made things a little awkward between the two of us. I’m not even sure I know how to comment on the situation – I’m always so worried about offending someone…and the truth of it is, I really have no beef with people from different backgrounds and cultures. I work hard to embrace it. So, maybe I should be giving her props for being true to what she believes and having the guts to tell everyone…but it doesn’t change the fact that I do not share her views and do not support Louis Farrakhan and what he stands for. I just can’t relate. If she had given props to the Dalai Lama or Mother Theresa, I wouldn’t be writing this.

Of course, the big question in my mind is: is it okay for me to still like her music? All this said, 80% of her album still appeals to my sense and sensibilities. “Master Teacher” breaks it down in her classic way, talkin ‘bout transcendence and knowledge….and then she gets all down-tempo about 3 minutes in to the song (and suddenly, there goes Fluff shakin her booty without a care in the world, singing, “I stay woke”). In “Honey,” she likens her love interest to a cup of warm tea with a “lil lemon.” Mmmm…and that just warms me right up. She features Common on one track (barely, but he’s there), and gives a much-respected BIG UP to J Dilla on two of her tracks (maybe the whole album is in his dedication?). And that leaves me thinking to myself, “This some good shit…I don’t want to give it up.”

Erykah, Erykah - I feel like we have come so far together – I don’t know if I’m ready to walk away…..

I decided and it really comes down to this (and I would say this to Erykah if I could call her up on the phone right now): “Girl, we been through a lot together. You’re an amazing artist and I love you like my own sister…but I gotta shoot you straight. I can’t get down with this new political shit you’re into. We gon’ have to agree to disagree. I respect your opinions and your talents, and I just hope you will do the same for me…..but most importantly – I hope we can still be friends.”

I refuse to be one of those righteous mother effers who are, like, so wrapped up in the lyrics that they can’t enjoy a good song for its musicianship and “groove-ability.” Ya know? Lighten up, right? (This goes for me, too).

I still got love for you BADU!



p.s. – feedback is welcomed and appreciated, ya’ll….comment away!


LC said...

thanks for my cd Fluff!!
-I actually enjoy the political stuff as it is a nice break from the hip hop without a cause we've been hearing lately, and because Badu is mainstream, people listen to her
-but, I agree that it is a little over done on this one and not as carefree...I'm pretty sure her entire life does not revolve around politics, she could have been more well-rounded
-overall, I dig this one and I love how effortless Badu's voice is, like she's not even trying and the shit sounds dope....this is nice because I am so tired of the Alicia Keys who are straining to sound good (yeah I said it!)

Hillbilly Harlot said...

NO ONE, NO ONE, NO ONE, NO ONE CAN GET IN THE WAY OF WHAT IM FEELIN. Ugh, that song is almost as bad as "Big Girls Don't Cry". I mean, not really but I am just a little sick of homothugs blasting it from they 96 Buicks. Naw whaIsayin?