Badder than the most. The undisputed queen of neo-soul. One of those voices you’ll never forget. Also actor, activist, icon. Erykah Badu is many things, most of all she’s hard to ignore and always interesting – musically, philosophically or in a stylistic sense. Erykah Badu played at the very first Way Out West festival in 2007. And even though she hasn’t released an album since 2010, she’s no less relevant or influential now. After all, she’s Erykah Badu. The rest of us aren’t.
Erykah Badu, born and raised in Dallas, made herself a name in the late 1990’s–early 2000’s as a member of the musical collective Soulquarians, who mixed spiritual soul sounds and hip-hop vibes. D’Angelo, Common, Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, Mos Def, the Roots drummer Questlove and now deceased jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove were also part of the crew. On debut album Baduizm in 1997 she appeared as a fully formed artist and the record was a huge success that also won a Grammy for Best R&B Album. Mama’s Gun came three years later, and in The Village Voice rock critic Robert Christgau wrote: “Maybe her sources are autobiographical, but she’s here to inspire all black-identified women and the men who admire them.”