With a ‘fro reminiscent of Dr. J instead of her customary head-wrap, don’t expect the same old Erykah Badu at House of Blues: Orlando Saturday night. On what she terms “The Frustrated Artists Tour,” expect less meditation and more funk for yo’ trunk.
Badu first hit the scene in 1994 opening for D’Angelo, and singing a duet with the stud soul singer on the High School High soundtrack.
Her 1997 debut, Baduizm, catapulted Badu to stardom. The album combined rich, jazzy textures and Badu’s captivating voice. The album shied away from the booming, bass-heavy beats many R&B records were laden with at the time. Instead, Baduizm struck a new chord, with pared-down instrumentation and Badu’s silky smooth yet emotionally wrought voice.
Badu took home two Grammy awards in 1999 as Baduizm went triple platinum.
Baduizm altered the path of hip hop/soul music and laid the course for such artists as Lauryn Hill, Macy Gray and India.Arie.
Badu then released Live!, a gathering of live performances from October 1997. The album included her biggest hit, “Tyrone,” about the man her boyfriend should call when she kicks him out of her house.
Mama’s Gun, Badu’s sophomore studio release, marked a sharp contrast to Baduizm. Instead of jazz, this album is infused with more funk than the average ’70s Soul Train episode. Released in late 2000, Mama’s Gun shows a wonderful progression in Badu’s artistic diversity.
Knock-your-socks-off tracks like “Penetentiary Philosophy” and “Booty” get you up and dancing, while slow songs like “Didn’t Cha Know” and “In Love with You” get you in the mood. “A.D. 2000” is a beautiful ballad about Amadou Diallo’s slaying at the hands of NYPD officers. And with “Green Eyes,” Badu lays on wax her tumultuous break-up with Outkast’s Dre 3000 while she lays her heart on her sleeve.
The latest hit for Badu is “Love of My Life (an ode to hip hop),” featuring emcee (and significant other) Common. The track is a single from the Brown Sugar soundtrack. The song is the newest in a trilogy of hip hop odes featuring Common, including his own “I used to love H.E.R.” on his Resurrection LP, and The Roots’ “Act Too … The Love of My Life,” on 1999’s Things Fall Apart.
The video for “Love of My Life,” on heavy rotation on VH1 and MTV, has Badu positioned at the various stages of hip hop; she breakdances in early ’80s garb (hello adidas and gold chains), and totes a red, black and green Africa necklace of back-to-the-roots early ’90s.
In January, Badu and Common received three Grammy nominations for the track, including Best R&B Song.
Badu’s other half is on a hot streak at the moment, as Common has received sparkling reviews for his latest album, the funk/psychedelic/hip hop melange titled Electric Circus. On that album, Badu is featured on two tracks: “Jimi was a Rock Star,” a duet with Common, and “Heaven Somewhere,” on which she’s one of a number of soul singers. Common is also currently touring, albeit separately.
According to an MTV.com report, Badu is currently working on her next album, Worldwide Underground, though there is no set release date.
One of the tracks on the new album should be a remix of “Love of My Life,” made with the help of female rap pioneers, such as Queen Latifah and Bahamdia.
Concert-goers can expect some new twists at Badu’s Orlando show. At a January performance in Minneapolis, Badu mixed her latest track with a breakdown that included hip hop classics “Rapper’s Delight” and “Straight Outta Compton.”
Along with her usual spiritualism, anticipate some knew antics, like Ms. Badu beat-boxing and breakdancing. She even jumped into the crowd not once, but twice, shattering the mold of the indignant diva and further continuing her track record as a fan-friendly artist.
The doors of House of Blues: Orlando open at 7:30 p.m., and the all ages show starts at 8:45.
Contact Andrew Pina at firstname.lastname@example.org