Photos of Erykah Badu’s #Baduizms B-Day Party taken by Evanka W. for Okayplayer.
Erykah Badu could have been anywhere in the world Sunday night but she celebrated her 46th birthday with her people, with Dallas.
A beautiful crowd gathered at The Bomb Factory in Downtown, Dallas, an area my Lyft driver tells me has become the latest up and coming neighborhood. There are new apartment buildings and condos going up on several streets. It’s where the “young people” are moving he said. We know what that is code for. The “young people” were also in attendance for Badu’s celebration but they didn’t make up the entire audience. The line that wrapped along three blocks, ranged from your millennial artsy intellectual to your OG aunties and uncles, the original B-boys and B-girls, every one of whom was waiting to be in the vicinity of Badu’s presence as she celebrated another orbit around the sun.
And then it was time for the queen. After a surprising/random intro from Cedric The Entertainer and a suspense building medley from her band, Badu finally floated onto the stage, opening with “Hello” and then taking us through some of our favorites including “Out My Mind, Just In Time,” “The Healer,” “On & On,” and “Love Of My Life”. Occasionally she added touches with her MPCs, at one point taking off all of her illustrious rings one by one so she could get into it properly. Those few seconds reinforced what I love about Badu, she’s aware and confident and if something is restricting her, she’s getting rid of it.
It reminded me of something she’s said in a recent interview with Hot 97: “Evolving requires elimination. You have to eliminate the things that no longer evolve you.” And in that moment on stage, the rings were wrecking her flow, so off they went.
In the midst of the jammin’, Badu took a moment to drop some knowledge and lightly addressed the nerve-wracking climate of our country, a “world war” something she says she knew was coming. She affirmed race, gender, sexuality as all these things that aren’t important. “We are spirits first. We are humans second” and everything else comes after.
Eventually, her team, band, friends, family, her tribe swarmed the stage with a birthday cake, a Badu portrait and also Dave Chappelle, who Badu says she convinced into coming even though he was “working on some important sh*t.” He took the mic to prompt the room into birthday song “Let’s all sing a very wonderful happy birthday to a very wonderful entertainer.”
Despite Baduizm having been released in 1997, likely when some of the fans in attendance may have still been in diapers, the “young people” were at the front lines, closest to the stage Sunday night. And it’s clear Badu’s touch has no limits and she’s managed to catch hold of a variety of generations, ages, races, humans over the last 20 years. And not in that kind of superficial nostalgic way, where you only come to hear hits from the ’90s. From Baduizm to her 2015 release You Caint Use My Phone — the “Analog Girl” has mastered the “Digital World”. She remains innovative and potent. She continuously behaves like a new artist.
Throughout the show, Badu’s hairstylist of five years stood next to me. She revealed to me about the Badu wonder: “She’s real, she is who she is. She’s opened my eyes up.” It’s a sentiment we also have as fans, even if we don’t know her personally, it feels like an experience of our own. I quickly realized Sunday night Baduizm has lifted all of us.
Badu’s poise is inspiring to all of us. She delivers timeless sermons, medicine and Dallas came out to get some Badu Soup For The Soul.
Happy Birthday Erykah Badu aka Sara Bellum aka FatBellyBella aka Medulla Oblongata aka Low Down Loretta Brown aka Analogue Girl in a Digital World.
Watch a bit of the “Happy Birthday, Badu” performance below: