I was in the middle of reading this Billboard article about the 20-year anniversary of Erykah Badu’s Baduizm, when I stopped, turned on my rarely-used stereo, and popped the CD in the 5-disc changer.
Damn the neighbors; I needed to vibe to the album made by the singer who has grown to be my all-time favorite artist. I love her like she’s my blood relative, and if I was forced to listen to only one artist while stranded on a deserted island, she wins – hands down.
Oh, and I had to burn some incense. I mean, if I’m going to set the mood, then incense must be involved! (If you ever find yourself in Los Angeles, find my incense man; he’s on Venice Beach.)
If you are reading this blog on Feb. 12, 2017, Baduizm was released exactly 7,301 days ago today. It was an instant classic then – and remains one 20 years later.
I don’t remember precisely when I first heard this album, but I’m sure I was a second-semester senior at Grambling State University in Grambling, LA (the same university Erykah attended. She was Erica Abi Wright then). No, I didn’t know her; we weren’t there at the same time. I believe she left the year before I arrived (damn it!). But we are still #GramFam.
I know for sure I was anxious about graduating and excited about moving on to grown life (in hindsight, I wish I wouldn’t have rushed leaving college and slowed down just a bit, because being a full-time adult is – at times – overrated).
I do remember when I fell in love with Baduizm. It was the summer of 1997. I was a business news intern at the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, TN, and I recall this album being on constant rotation. Actually, it never really left my car’s CD player. It played On & On (I couldn’t resist).
There was something about the songs that drew me in. Erykah was different, special. Her voice was distinctive and unique, and I loved it. From the intro to the outro, the songs were a refreshing change of pace.
My favorite songs from this album are Apple Tree, whose lyrics are fantastic and self-affirming. (I don’t walk around trying to be what I’m not/I don’t waste my time trying to get what you got/I work at pleasing me/Cause I can’t please you/And that’s why I do what I do/My soul flies free like a willow tree), and No Love (the last verse is the best. I was driving on Interstate 20 from Grambling to Shreveport, LA when the words slapped me in the face. Somehow, she was singing about a situation I was in at the time. How did she know?
So thank you, Billboard, for the trip down memory lane. (If you haven’t already, go back and click on the link to read the article; it gives great insight into the making of Baduizm).
Wouldn’t it be great if Erykah went on tour this year where she only performs the songs from Baduizm? And, maybe a few from Mama’s Gun (specifically Green Eyes and Kiss Me On My Neck), because that album right there is actually my favorite of hers. And Out My Mind, Just In Time (from New Amerykah Part 2: Return of the Ankh).