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Friday, October 16, 2009

Part 5: Where Do You Stand? Erykah Badu is “Freeing the Slaves and the Slaves Masters”

Music Success

1997 Baduizm 3 x Platinum
1997 Live 2 x Platinum
2000 Mama's Gun Platinum
2003 Worldwide Underground Gold
2008 New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) 345,000 & counting
2009 New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)

Why Do Platinum Artist Flee Underground?

Born Erica Abi Wright, in 1997 Erykah Badu broke the mold,literally, with Baduism. She hit the scene with the "Color Purple" tribute-style video "On & On" and intro hook - "Pick Yo Afro Daddy! 'Cause it's flat on one side. ..You need to pick afro daddy because it's flat on one side..." We instantly laughed as she talked about the broken promise of a trip to see Wu-Tang and then she floored us. Sent chills up and down our spines with that beat, that damn beat: Dat-dat-dat-dat-dat-datdatdatdat! Uh On and on/and on and on..."
The world knew one thing: God had Blessed us with another star. To date, she continues to mezemorize us because she is real and serious. Beautiful and goofy. Saultry and sassy. In her soft, demanding voice she puts us in our place and reminds us just how real life is when she expressed that she is "an artist. And I'm sensative about my shit." Then on stage, in a fully packed crowd, she free-styled Tyrone! Yeah, in one take. Her wit is impressive, but the knowledge she holds is backed it up and then some. Never to disappoint her audience by selling out and boast that she sometimes rocks a purse from the "thrift store," she continues to blow our minds with love, knowledge and respect for all humans.

Here is the answer in her words...

“If you want to get into the revolution, you’re going to be broke and you’re going to be beat, spiritually and physically at some point and it’s just the way it is. I’ve chosen that for better or for worse, because I know Kingdom come...That’s mathematics and science beginning to fit together and the time has come. We have no choice really. With that in mind, freedom is inevitable for all of us, not only the slaves, but the slave-master.”

“We just have to come up with the right dialogue and the right things to say in our music, because it’s something happening. Here, right now, we have the power to use our platforms to do that and it’s our pleasure to do that...[As a] soldier for the Most High, I have to do that job that I have to do, no matter what...When I figured out that I am not my head wrap, I am not my hair, I am not my skin, I am not this song, I freed myself from those labels and I was not going to let an industry define me. I’m going to define myself. I take my time putting out this music and do it when I feel ready to be consumed with all of the words and things and wind and stuff that people are going to throw at you. Crawfish, seasonally, go and hide because their shell becomes real soft and other crawfish can peck on them and kill them, yeah and they’ll attack them. So, when that shell gets soft, I have to go in and build up myself. So, I take my time in this industry. However, I know that I need the industry because I need that platform, because the Most High gave it to me to do some things,”interview with Dora Muhammad in 2005 .

Always inventive and keeping it fresh but strickly old school--honestly what music is now missing since the digital craze--you know that hiss and crackle when the needle drops. That moment of what one hopes is silence, but inevitably picks up background noise. Some have to balance a quarter on it just to get it to play...yeah now that's old school music! She dropped a "Pink Wax" album and in a 2008 interview with Siliva Authur, titled "The Brillance of Badu," is asked about it:

Q: Tell me about the “Pink Wax” album for DJs.
EB:This time I wanted to do something especially for the DJs so we’ve released a special 12-inch pink wax of two songs that I thought should be heard in clubs. The first song, “Real Thing”, features a Madlib track that was banging so hard that we decided to start a “Real Thing” Campaign. We sent out instrumental and a cappella versions of the song so that DJs, producers and fans can do their own remixes. On the other side of Pink Wax is a song called “The Healer.” It sets the tone of the project and I really want people to pay attention to this song. “The Healer” points out that all over the world, we don’t do anything together – we don’t pray together, we
don’t eat together, we don’t worship together, we don’t learn together, we don’t agree. But everybody nods their head to the same beat and that gives me the impression that hip-hop is bigger than religion, politics and the government. I
think it’s the healer of this world.
Unlike KRS-One who argues HipHop is a religion, she counters that it is bigger than a religion as demonstrated in her song, The Healer (Hip Hop),
(Humdi Lila Allah Jehova Yahweh Dios Ma'ad Jah) Rastafara fyah dance, sex, music, hip-hop It's bigger than religion hip-hop it's bigger than my niggas hip-hop it's bigger than the government (humdi luli lali lulo) This one fa' Dilla, hip-hop (humdi luli la, humdi luli la lilulo, humdi lulila humdi lulilaaa...)
We ain't dead said the children don't believe it We just made ourselves invisible underwater, stove-top, blue flame scientist come out with your scales up get baptized in the ocean of the hungry (Humdi luli lalilulo, Humdi lulilalilu) My niggas turn in to gods, walls come tumblin...(aaahhh)
(Humdi lila Allah jehova yahweh dios ma had ja) Rastafara fyah dance, sex, music, hip-hop It's bigger than religion hip-hop it's bigger than my niggas hip-hop it's bigger than the government (humdi luli lali lulo) This one is the healer, hip-hop (humdi luli la, humdi lulilalilulo, humdi lulila, humdi lulilaaaa)
Told you we aint dead yet we been livin' through your internet you don't have to believe everything you think we've been programmed wake up, we miss you. They call you indigo, we call you Africa. Go get baptized in the ocean of the people (Humdi luli lalulilo) say reboot, refresh, restart. Fresh page, new day, o.g.'s, new key...(humdi lulila, humdi lulila lilulo, humdi luli la, humdilulila)
Going back to the interview with Authur, she is asked:

Q: What kept you busy during the break between this new album and 2003’s “Worldwide Underground”?
EB: I’ve been producing. I produced a beautiful baby and I’ve created what I hope my fan will feel is some powerful music. I also started a label called Control Freaq Records. The ideal is to control the “frequency” of music. How it’s heard, when it’s heard, who hears it, and from whom it comes from. And that’s what Freaq is about – recalibrating and re-measuring the frequency of the music to get more positive message to the audiences. This label was also designed for artists who are pretty much established and who have created an audience for themselves on the internet. Our motto is “Freeing the Slaves and the Slaves Masters”. I’m talking about freeing up the master tapes that we, as artists, have to hand over to the label that we never own again. This message and this music belong to the artists.

"I Stay Woke"

Aware and always careful of how the industry trys to manipulate and control an artists' image she once said, "...there is nothing freaky about controlling your own image." In support I counter: any one is a freak if they allow the industry to control their image and sound. In the end is it really you or their personification of who you are, dipped in sterotypes and lies just to continue to mass produce their commericalized version of HipHop? We need to take our power back. Take HipHop back, which is you and I. But I digress...

How Erykah see's herself is best described in the end of the interview with Muhammad who asked, "Who is Erykah Badu?" She responds, “I can’t give you a precise true answer. I’m still trying to find that out, too. It’s too soon to say that. That would be for my children to say. I’m a sister who was made a philanthropist, an artist, a mother, a reflection of The Most High’s work.”

It's just Mia, and these are Erykah's thoughts as recorded by others. ARapperNamedBilal ask, "Are You a Part of the Problem or the Solution." Namaste.

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