About Erykah Badu
As fearless as she is unpredictable, Erykah Badu is one of American music’s true originals. Indeed, no one could have predicted just how unique her trajectory would be when the singer and songwriter—born Erica Wright, in Dallas, in 1971—first became a leading light of the neo-soul movement alongside friends like D’Angelo and The Roots with the 1997 release of her first hit single, “On & On,” and Baduizm, her impossibly cool full-length debut. While Badu’s deft and playful vocal delivery garnered early comparisons with Billie Holiday, her creative vision proved to be much broader than the slinky, coffee-bar-ready jazz and soul of her early releases. On 2000’s Mama’s Gun and both parts of 2008’s ambitious New Amerykah, Pt. 1 (4th World War), Badu crafted her own bewitching and sometimes bewildering brand of soul, funk, and psychedelia, which she laced with stinging sociopolitical commentary and sly humor. Blazing her own trail, she became an icon and inspiration to younger musical adventurers like Flying Lotus, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Tyler, The Creator, all of whom later became her collaborators. In 2015, Badu ended a seven-year hiatus as a recording artist with But You Caint Use My Phone, a deliriously odd and enthralling mixtape filled with her riffs and spins on Drake’s then-inescapable “Hotline Bling.” Only Badu could carry off such a wild idea and do it with such imagination and style.
BORNFebruary 26, 1971