*Photo credits – Bode HelmErykah Badu isn’t easily forgotten. Whether it’s her eclectic attire, her philosophically empowered music or her enigmatic personality, once you experience the phenomenon that is Baduizm, her presence becomes tenacious; just ask her former paramours Andre Benjamin and Common. As ambiguous as she is grounded, Erykah Badu conveys a truth that is definitive, yet frayed. A truth so vivid that it has left critics and fans alike curiously anticipating whether the mother of neo-soul would ever birth another movement. After a four-year hiatus from the spotlight, Ms. Badu is back. However, this time around the Bag Lady,” accompanied by some of the cultures most organic producers, is rocking her favorite vintage accessory – Hip-Hop. Honey, The 9th Wonder-produced lead single off the forthcoming album, foreshadows the musical growth and consciousness that has become expected of the soul star. But shell be the first to tell you, Dont get too comfortable. Evolution is inevitable, but Erykah just might be the last of a new breed. Always innovative, never stagnant; no matter where she goes or what she does, as the third syllable of her name suggests, Ery-kah can do no wrong. AllHipHop.com Alternatives: Youve been gone for some years now. What were you doing?Erykah Badu: Gone where?AHHA: You know, gone off the scene.Erykah Badu: No, Ive been on the scene. Its just a different side of it. You mean recording?AHHA: Right.Erykah Badu: Im a touring artist. Thats what I do for a living. I do shows all over the world constantly, and Im a recording artist on the side. Ive been doing other projects, but Ive been mostly touring and working on these albums that Im putting out in the next year.AHHA: You said albums, so there will be more than one?Erykah Badu: Yes.AHHA: There was a rumor floating around that itll be a triple disc. Is that true or false?Erykah Badu: No, its not going to be a triple disc. Its going to be three separate projects. AHHA: Oh okay. Now often times when you take time away from the studio, and youre traveling around the world, you experience different things. What lessons are you going to share with us on this album?Erykah Badu: Wow. I guess thats going to be for us to figure out. It may be a little too soon to say. But I will definitely be sharing my experiences, my honesty, my creativity, nakedness, shyness, everything. So in sharing that, there will be a lot of different lessons for us to learn as we listen to it over and over again. AHHA: Youre such a talented artist in that you are able to teach and entertain at the same time. Few accomplish that. Is that intentional?Erykah Badu: Thats just how they made me. And its subconscious, pretty much. Im just a very excited learner, in being excited about what I learn, what I feel; I like to share it. Ive been given a platform and I take advantage of it.AHHA: By the same token, people can take that overboard. Do people ever come up to you with these supernatural expectations, expecting you to lay hands on them or anything?Erykah Badu: What? Wait, ask me that again. That was funny. [laughs]AHHA: [laughs] Do people ever come up to you expecting you to spit some insightful words or lay hands on them and stuff like that?Erykah Badu: There are all kinds of fans, and all kinds of people with different expectations of me. Ive had all kinds of requests and things. In what youre asking, I think the most proper way to answer that would be that some people recognize something in me that is in them. And it is just always so relieving to find someone who feels the way you do, and can express the way you do, that it may become fanatic, you know? So I guess thats what youre asking.AHHA: Right.Erykah Badu: And at the same time, I used to get that more, but since Tyrone and Danger, there is a balance in me as well that people are beginning to see. And Im not in the media a lot, so they dont know whats going on with me. Its just really good that I havent received any negative energy, you know?AHHA: Youre fortunate. You really do seem to evade that part of the industry – the media. Do you think having that ability is a key part to being successful in this business? Erykah Badu: Umm. I dont know. I think it depends on the persons agenda, you know? Some people are not bothered by backlash, because its part of the climb and the fall. Im a very sensitive artist; very sensitive about my s**t, so I dont really desire to be a celebrity. I love to entertain though. I love to perform. So it doesnt concern me or bother me. I believe half the good stuff they say and half the bad stuff. AHHA: A lot of people feel like were missing strong, conscious, talented women like you and Lauryn Hill, whom females have looked to for that insight, like we spoke about earlier. Do you feel that void as well?Erykah Badu: No, I dont. I can understand that it has a certain effect on the world, but Im always working. AHHA: Okay, so you dont really notice it.Erykah Badu: Nah. Im in it. [laughs]AHHA: Do you have any particular thoughts on the current situation with Lauryn Hill?Erykah Badu: No, not really. I mean, I hope everything is well. I can understand the strain of this business and being very strong, and being a woman as well. I know she just had her fourth or fifth child, so thats good.AHHA: Oh, thats exciting.Erykah Badu: Yeah, and thats why we take off a lot. Im a mother as well, and thats first. And if youre as passionate about your art as Lauryn Hill is, or as Erykah Badu is, then its going to stretch across the board. Youre going to be as passionate about your children, or your privacy, or your home life, or whatever it is.Im sure theres some passion that shes deep within right now. I dont believe in all the rumors and things that [try to] convince me that shes a crazy person. Shes one of the most noble-minded, intelligent persons Ive ever seen or heard in my life, so Im not convinced of anything. But shes in something. Shes in one of her other passions right now.AHHA: Well were glad to have you back, and well be happy when Lauryns back too. Tell us a little about the new project. Is there any deviation from what fans have come to expect from a Badu album?Erykah Badu: Deviation hmm. I dont know what fans have come to expect by this time. I would hope that people would say, This is 2007. That was 2003. There should be some possible growth, some possible creativity, some new experiences. Ive never had a certain format that I stick to. I only knew I had a style when critics told me that I did.This album is special to me because I went deep into my Hip-Hop purse to pull out some of the most creative, scientific, mathematical producers that I could find, because thats what I was feelin at the time. I had been starting to dabble in the studying of quantum physics and wanting to really, I dont know, participate in the changing of frequencies in different areas of music. And I said, Okay, the most likely candidate would be Dilla. So Im searching through my Jay Dilla mixtapes and pulling things out. [Other producers include] Madlib, Kareem Riggins, 9th Wonder, Sa-Ra, my comrade Jah Born, who did On and On, Frequency, my production crew – thats Rashad Smith, James Poyser, ?uestlove. Am I leaving anybody out? Oh, and this kid name Ciroc. This is a cat I met in LA, listening to tracks at Sa-Ras house. So [the album] is just inspired by a new frequency of sound, bored with what is happening, not that its good or bad, just bored with it; and wanting to create something new, or use what was there, the atoms that were there, and resituate them a little bit. Thats what I had in mind with this record, and I think thats what Im hearing. You would have to tell me what you hear, but it definitely feels new to me.And as I listen more, I see a purpose in [it]. I dont know if you do, but Im a person who enjoys having a purpose; and that purpose can change from time to time, moment to moment, mission to mission, but I enjoy having that. And Im seeing purpose turning into introducing artists and singers to other kinds of music. So, I think this project will do that, along with other things.Click Here for Part 2 of the Erykah Badu interview, where Erykah discusses Hip-Hop and her powerful effect on the fellas.