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Erykah Badu: Sneaks Some Peeks on VH1 Soul’s SoulStage

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Erykah has always said it: she’s a touring artist that happens to record on the side – using recording to capture a moment, and touring as a means to create them. It’s a pretty good chance that with that state of mind, VH1 Soul teamed up with Badu for “SoulStage: Erykah Badu.” Erykah set up camp for the night to tape the show at Brooklyn’s St. Anne’s Warehouse with only about a hundred fans, supporters, and label team members. Equipped with a casual ensemble and afro in disarray, or in place – whatever you prefer – the Neo-Soul Queen gave New York loyalists a very intimate glimpse of new tracks from Nu Amerykah, due out February 26th.Taking the audience down memory lane to “1997 A.D” Erykah flawlessly belted “On & On” with the same ease she did when she gave birth to the neo-soul masterpiece. Running through numerous new material produced by J Dilla, which was mentioned in remembrance numerous times through the set, surprisingly shows a growth in vocals and interpretation – yes, it’s possible. The new LP’s forecasted second single “Soldier” has Badu acknowledging that we all know what the track is about, but cares not to repeat a concept that encourages and describes brothers. “Other Side of the Game” was preceded by a story about her management sending her to record that song with no knowledge of who The Roots were. “Honey” has Badu telling the story of how it became the first single – a one on one conversation with Universal Records President Sylvia Rhone, or as Erykah likes to call her, “…a Black woman running things.”At St. Anne’s stage with a thermos full of tea to her right and beat machine to her left, Badu displayed her instinctive tendency to make the stage her home for the moment. She shared an anecdote as she took off her shoes – holding Eric Benet, her opening act from back in the day, responsible for the habit. The only trace of Badu’s stardom was a woman trotting from backstage and flattening the oversized wig…um, afro. Even having witnessed that scene, Badu still makes you feel like you’re at New York City’s SOB’s in 1997 watching the Baduizm buzz tour, not for lack of greatness, but because pretentiousness is tossed to the wind. Further proving the amazing humility that makes Badu’s artistry tangible enough to eat was her ending set. Shouting out solo female artists that came after her – “Lauryn, we miss you. Mary J, she sings so pretty. Jilly, from Philly. Ms. Arie, you are loved, and Beyonce, home town love” – it’s apparent that she feels no need to stifle women that represent all Black women in music. Erykah’s one artist you won’t hear bitching about a misdirected genre title. She’s too busy turning back time, feeding you present moments, and showing you a hopeful musical future- all at the same time. Catch this special moment for yourself when it airs on VH1 Soul on Tuesday, February 26 at 9pm ET/PT.

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