This past Saturday, Erykah Badu hit the stage at the Good Units club inside New York’s Hudson Hotel for a secret show that tested the patience of even the most diehard of fans. Yes the high priestess of soul, who recently released her love-torn brilliant album New Amerykah: Return of the Ankh, was excessively late (following three opening acts, Badu didn’t hit the stage until 1:24 am). But with tickets at $20 a pop, the bargain-price attached to the singer’s exceptional performance wasn’t the only reason Badu was well worth the wait.--Keith Murphy
5. Badu Is…Cool
Yes, at times the eccentric singer-songwriter seems two dollars short of a McDonald’s Happy Meal. After all, we are talking about a woman who most recently appeared butt naked in the video for her Baduizm-tinged single “Window Seat” to make a statement on liberation. But her engrossing stage presence and refreshingly quirky fashion sense displayed during the Good Units gig (who else could pull off a pimped-out Fat Albert era cap, beige trench coat and red-striped pants?) showed an artist who is indeed the real deal. Badu is a true rebel in an era when individuality is viewed as rocking ‘80s fashions and singing songs about girl-on-girl action.
4. She’s Gorgeous…On Her Own Terms
No wonder Badu has garnered the reputation as hip hop’s ultimate muse (the D.O.C., Andre 3000, Common and now Jay Electronica can testify). Thirteen years into her career, her intoxicating—some might say dangerous—sensual beauty will still entice a man to where lime green pants, a neon orange vest and yellow cowboy boots. And Badu’s mojo is even more potent in person. “My ass and thighs have gotten thick…” she sang during the introspective song “Me.” Hey, who are we to disagree?
3. Because Spank Rock Sucks
True torture? Witnessing electro rap act Spank Rock blurt out head shaking lyrics like, “Shake it ‘till my dick turn racist” over epileptic-inducing beats that sound like NERD at a high school talent show. After the Philadelphia indie group was booed off the stage, Badu was greeted like a conquering hero. No shock there.
2. Her Band Kills
Armed with a groove-obsessed keyboardist, two sturdy background singers, a powerful drummer and a bassist that was seemingly in pocket during the entire show, this was Badu’s tightest and funkiest unit to date. After hearing her neo soul favorite “Apple Tree” get transformed into a “Planet Rock” style work-out (complete with Badu on the beat machine), you realize that this group of musicians are on some next shit.
1. Badu’s Voice Is In Top Form
Badu displayed the type of otherworldly pitch control usually reserved for veteran jazz vocalists. Classics like “Other Side of The Game,” “On And On,” and a surprising turn on her guest spot on Outkast’s “Liberation” as well as newer material “20 Feet Wall” and “Window Seat” were elevated by a brave voice that was never afraid to go outside the proverbial musical box. One moment Badu is channeling ancient African chants on “My People” and the next she’s taking it to a southern Baptist church on “Soldier.” Bring on the tour.