How much is Erykah Badu worth?
|Net Worth:||$13 Million|
|Date of Birth:||February 26, 1971|
|Country:||United States of America|
“The things that happen naturally will happen. But we can do some things to avoid the other stuff. We can stand together as people who accept each other as people and not as races and things – and stand up for one another. Stand up for what is ultimately right, and that is to divinely love each other.” — Erykah Badu to Westword Weekly’s Backbeat Online blog.
Who Is Erykah Badu
Erica Wright, who grew up to become the famous Erykah Badu, is the daughter of William Wright Jr. and Kollen Gipson. Erykah’s father left the home when she was still young and she was raised by their mother in Dallas, Texas. Erykah was influenced by her mother who was an actress and likewise began to take up creative pursuits. Her first public performance was at the young age 4, together with her mother she performed at the Dallas Theatre Centre.
Erykah grew up in the 1980s and a became multi-talented singer, dancer and rapper. Later she changed her stage name to Erykah Badu. In Arabic “Badu” means truth and light.
Real name: Erica Wright. Born: Feb. 26, 1971 in south Dallas, Texas. Raised in Dallas.
After Erykah graduated from the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, she went on to attend college at Grambling State University in Louisiana. She dropped out, however, to focus on her music career. She eventually made a demo tape which wound up in the hands of music mogul Kedar Massenburg and he signed her to Universal Records. Her debut album, Baduism, followed in February 1997. It was a critical and commercial success, reaching No. 2 on Billboard’s albums chart. She also won Grammys for Best New Artist, Best R&B; Album and Best R&B; Song (for the single “On & On.”)
Baduism ultimately sold over three million copies, and to date is still her most successful album ever. Sales of each subsequent album have been lower than the previous one, though she continues to be a popular, award-winning artist. As of mid-2008, she has won four Grammys, three Soul Train Awards, one American Music Award, an NAACP award and one BET Award. In addition to singing, Erykah has followed in her mother’s footsteps by becoming an actress. She has appeared in numerous films, including Blues Brothers 2000 and The Cider House Rules. She’s also appeared on the former UPN/The CW sitcom “Girlfriends.”
Baby Mama Drama
Erykah currently has two children: the eldest is a son named Seven Sirius Benjamin who was born in 1997. Seven’s father is rapper-actor Andre “André 3000” Benjamin of OutKast. Next is a daughter, Puma Rose, who was born in 2004. Puma’s father is former rapper Tracy “The D.O.C.” Curry. In July 2008, it was confirmed that she was pregnant again, this time with hip-hop artist Jay Electronica. After news broke that she was preganant with her third child by a third man, she came under heavy criticism. She later shot back saying that she’s an “excellent mother” and “complete without a partner and always will be.”
New Amerykah, Pt. One (4th World War)
Erykah Badu has always marched to the beat of a different drummer, but on her fourth studio album, New Amerykah, Pt. One: 4th World War, she seems to have almost completely abandoned the concept of making traditional R&B;/Soul songs. The album, which will be released in the U.S on Feb. 26, 2008 – which happens to be Erykah’s 37th birthday – is less like an album of music and more like a hour-long jam session by a band equally inspired by hip-hop and ’70s Funk. Although artists who think outside the box should always be applauded, it seems that on this album, our Ms. Badu may have taken things too far into left field.
The AmErykahn Way
In an interview before the album came out, Erykah Badu said that this is the album she’s been waiting her whole life to make and that the music is the star here. And as the title makes obvious, New Amerykah, Pt. One: 4th World War is an esoteric concept album, the true, absolute meaning of which is probably unknown to anyone except Erykah herself and the album’s producers, which include underground/alternative hip-hoppers 9th Wonder and Madlib. This album is light years away – in tone, lyrics and atmosphere – from Erykah’s debut LP, Baduizm. But anyone who’s heard Erykah’s last album, 2003’s brilliant but under-promoted Worldwide Underground will understand how she veered toward the direction of New Amerykah.
The album kicks off with social commentary “Amerykan Promise,” which sounds like it could be from a scene in one of those old “blaxploitation” movies from the early 1970s. “Oh, we love love you. We love to suck you dry, all the while keepin’ you high, an authoritative male voice, presumably embodying the U.S. government, says at one point. It, and other songs are impersonal and esoteric, with Badu’s vocal work at a minimum, supplanted by Funk beats, chants, beeps, sound effects and other audio flourishes that are interesting but not at all necessary. Perhaps most disappointing is that Erykah almost seems like a guest on her own album sometimes.
Of New Amerykah‘s 11 tracks, the two truly outstanding songs are the album’s first single, the funky, funky love song “Honey;” and the album’s most personal song, the quirky “Me.” “Honey” is one of the few traditional verse-chorus-verse songs on the album, and its refreshingly different from the album’s more scattered/less focused concept songs. And it’s on the song “Me” where Badu is most direct and non-metaphorical, with her singing her thoughts and feelings about her life: “This year I turned 26; Damn, it seem it came so quick, my ass and legs have gotten thick – it’s all me.
Other than the two aforementioned songs, there’s other compelling tracks, “Soldier,” “Twinkle” and the financial struggle song “That Hump” to name three. But the quality songs are somewhat overshadowed by the album’s more disjointed, uneven material, such as the confusing, nearly seven-minute-long “Master Teacher.” There’s no truly horrible songs on the album, but New AmErykah Pt. 1 is an album where individual songs don’t matter as much as the package as a whole. And that’s how the album needs to be listened to – the whole thing in one sitting. Or actually perhaps several sittings, because these songs are so beyond what’s the considered the norm in music today that it may take awhile for them to grow on you.
‘New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh’
Time to light the incense and start brewing some tea: Erykah Badu is back on the scene. And on her latest project, New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh (released in the U.S. on March 30, 2010), Ms. Badu takes on a very common subject – love – but manages to do it in a very uncommon way. Return of the Ankh is tender yet strong, fragile yet bold and brilliantly quirky. It’s also an album that apparently couldn’t care less about radio-friendly singles and ringtone R&B; it’s a work of art that’s meant to be looked at and listened to and enjoyed as a whole instead of seen as a bunch of songs that were thrown together.
Despite it’s title, Erykah Badu’s New Amerykah Part Two has almost nothing in common with it’s 2008 predacessor, New Amerykah Part One: 4th World War. While 4th World War was an esoteric concept album about social and world politics, the theme of Return of the Ankh – love and relationships – is much more easily digestable. The album kicks off brilliantly with the stark and off-kilter “20 Feet Tall,” where Erykah uses a metaphor to explore the subject of how her lover has become distant: “You, you built a wall, a 20-foot wall, so I couldn’t see,” she sings. “But if I get off my knees, I might recall I’m 20 feet tall.”
And on the brilliantly funky “Fall in Love (Your Funeral),” Erykah uses some old Notorious B.I.G. lyrics to warn a suitor not to try stealing her heart: “There’s gonna be some slow singin’ and flower bringin’ if my burgular alarm starts ringin’,” she sings, echoing B.I.G.’s song “Warning” from his 1994 Ready to Die album. Biggie also influences Erykah’s “Turn Me Away (Get Munny).” The song’s sort of a mash-up of the 1981 Sylvia Striplin song “Turn Me Away” and the mid-’90s Junior M.A.F.I.A. song “Get Money,” which features B.I.G. and Lil Kim on the vocals. But Erykah’s lyrics are completely different from either of the two songs it’s built upon. And while “Fall in Love” is a warning to stay away, “Turn Me Away” is an amusingly stalker-ish plea for acceptance: “I’ll wait on your doorstep ’til you let me come in, Hey, I’ll be your best friend,” she sings.
The one song that’s had most people talking, however, is the first official single, “Window Seat.” The melancholy, jazz-influenced song, which is about wanting to free onself from relationship problems, doesn’t have particularly controversial lyrics. Among them: “Can I get a window seat, don’t want nobody next to me/I just want a chance to fly, a chance to cry.” But the song’s video, which featured Erykah stripping off her clothes in public before being shot at the same Dallas, Texas location where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, caused a minor stir when it debuted a few days before the album dropped. “Window Seat” is the most radio-friendly song on the album, but it’s not exactly happy-go-lucky, good-time. In fact, most of the songs here are sober and serious, which makes it even more of a shame that one song slated for the album, “Jump Up in the Air (Stay There),” was left off at the last minute. The track, which features Lil Wayne and neo-Soul crooner Bilal, is one of the more fun and funky tracks Ms. Badu has recorded in awhile and it’s a shame that circumstances led to it not being included here.
That said, even without “Jump Up in the Air,” Return of the Ankh is definitely an enjoyable album of intelligent, highly creative jazz-influenced neo-Soul and Funk music that’s thankfully much more accessible and not nearly as abstract or confusing as her last project.