Erykah Badu is one of the most unique artists that the world has to offer.
The founder of a whole new genre alongside D’Angelo in the 90s, Neo Soul rejuvenised Soul music, tastefully bringing in elements of Hip Hop and became a movement of love, self-acceptance and conscious lyricism.
The legacy of Queen Badu is what built so much anticipation for her sell out show at the Hammersmith Apollo, West London. Celebrating the 20-year anniversary of her critically acclaimed album ‘Baduizm,’ Queen Erykah made a memorable return to the Capital.
When tickets for the show were first released they sold out in seconds. Many desperate fans hedged their bets by turning up at the venue for the chance to buy spare tickets, others took to Twitter to express their desire to watch the legend in her element. One Twitter user joked: ‘Opening up a trust fund to help me get to London tomorrow to see Erykah Badu if anyone would like to donate.’ This was just how much this night meant to all music lovers across the country.
In the 90s she was a fresh faced young lady, new to the scene and was a curious bundle of talent with a uniquely poetic style. Now the world is familiar with her amazing talent, her wonderful eccentricism and phenomenal catalogue as a Neo-Soul legend.
On and On
In one of London’s oldest and most respected music venues, a crowd of five thousand people strong witnessed the magic of Ms. Badu. The crowd was diverse, with a mix of couples as well as young and older fans. A testament to Badu’s timeless work, her ability to bridge the gap between the old and new generation is something that would draw both respect and envy from other artists. Supported by her incredible live band and extraordinarily talented backing singers, fans were taken on a musical adventure.
She came out in style, donning a white cloak jacket and her infamous top hat. Her wonderful stage presence filled the room, singing along with the standing crowd in front of her and galvanising the viewers sitting up top. She masterfully implemented her musical genius into her performance, programming beats while onstage and performing a number of freestyles from the beats she’d laid down in that moment.
The veteran performer showed off her remarkable vocal range, performing classics such as ‘On and On,’ ‘Didn’t Ya Know,’ ‘Tyrone,’ ‘Rim Shot’ and ‘Next Lifetime.’ A memorable part of the show was when she shared the limelight with her backing singers, allowing them to hit some high notes as she cheered them on with the crowd. The team who had been together for over twenty years, impressed the crowd and showed exactly why they were in such talented company.
She also set up a drum battle between her two drummers. It was a moment of dynamism and competitiveness which culminated in an eruption of noise from the audience which highlighted the chemistry between her and her crew. Badu’s creative mind was in full spin onstage, even making time to act out a hilarious skit with her band. She teased the London crowd to scream louder than they did in Paris, playfully twerking and filled the room with joy and laughter.
A Night Of Surprises
Just when the crowd thought they’d had their daily dose of Baduizm, the Queen surprised fans by bringing out legendary singer Omar who she described as her brother to perform ‘Be Thankful.’ After their duet, the pair shared a passionate embrace.
Then, the moment which elevated the night from great to unforgettable came when Erykah Badu brought out legendary Hip Hop Icon Common. The crowd erupted as the pair shared the stage. A throwback to Hip Hop in its purest form, Common’s masterful delivery and poetic flow will live long in the memory. The pair who at one point were romantically involved, shared an undeniable chemistry onstage which the crowd appreciated.
However, Ms Badu was not done making her mark just yet. Whilst her and Common were onstage she welcomed New York rapper Talib Kweli to join her. The US trio lapped up the crowd’s appraisal. Before performing the final song of the night, Erykah Badu shouted out the late and legendary producer J Dilla who remixed the track ‘The Light’ which her and Common released together back in 2002 and went on to perform to finish the night. A powerful moment came when the lights came down and she instructed fans to hold up their phone torches to illuminate the room. Before finishing she told the crowd to believe in themselves and strive for their dreams before diving into the audience to be at one with the people who supported her.
On an incredible night Erykah Badu showed off her incredible catalogue, empowering lyricism and poetic style. Her ability to combine Hip Hop and Soul is what kept her sound fresh back in the day and right now is a refreshing homage to good quality live music and performance which can be hard to come by nowadays. A mystical experience, we left with a different kind of energy to when we entered. Empowered and enlightened, we look forward to the next time the Queen of Neo Soul graces us with her presence in the Capital.
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