To some, Erykah Badu and Summer Walker are an unlikely pair, but to fans of both singer-songwriters, they couldn’t be more perfect for one another. Badu is one of the most respected names in neo-soul, while Walker is a newer artist that has become a standout for putting her own spin on R&B.
On Monday, Rolling Stone unveiled a cover story featuring both artists in conversation about topics that interest them both: aliens, UFO’s, music, and their separate paths to stardom. The chat between the two falls directly after Badu celebrated the 20th anniversary of her second studio album, Mama’s Gun.
Last Friday, Walker released a complete set of her debut album Over It. It features live and acapella versions of popular tracks on the compilation that left a mark on the industry when it dropped in 2019. Throughout the discussion, she opened up quite a bit, something she hasn’t done in the past.
One honest moment that stood out in the feature included Badu and Walker bonding over being introverts. “I’m a super-duper introvert. Not because I want to be — I just don’t really understand human interaction,” Summer said. Erykah then shared, “I used to think I was the odd man out all the time, or the strange person in the group, because I couldn’t relate to a lot of the emotions that people had. It’s something I had to figure out.”
Next, the duo chatted a bit about UFO sightings, aliens and extraterrestrials. Badu leaned into these topics by asking Summer if she’d ever seen a UFO. She responded by saying “no,” but she’s seen unidentified things in the sky. Erykah added here that she has friends that have had experiences with extraterrestrials and these individuals may have gifts that led the “shape-shifters” to them.
By the time the two singers began chatting about music, the candid nature of their discussion became apparent. When asked how long she’s been singing Walker said, “I was singing since I was very young, but just for fun. I just started taking this seriously. It’s been two years.” On if she writes her own music she shared, she has written everything she’s released but had help on her last project. “The heartfelt stuff is me… I don’t want to put out something that I don’t connect with or [that’s] trash.”
Badu spoke about her relationship with Andre 3000, from their early dating days to their current friendship stage. She revealed that he’d just left Dallas after paying a visit for her grandmother’s memorial services. “When we became boyfriend and girlfriend in the ’90s, we didn’t become friends first. We were attracted to each other,” she said, “we had stuff in common, but we didn’t learn all of that over the years.”
Now that they’ve parted ways romantically, she feels their relationship is more versatile. “He’s one of my best friends on the planet,” she continued. “We laugh all the time, talk about things. It’s brother and sister, it’s grandmother and grandson, it’s father and daughter. It’s so many different things depending on what the situation calls for.”
Perhaps the most interesting part of the interview was when Walker touched on how she deals with being an introverted leader and boss when it comes to her career. She admitted because she’s soft-spoken it is difficult for her to be taken seriously and that she doesn’t want to come across as mean.
Badu gave supreme advice here to Walker as she grows in the industry:
“I like it. You keep going, you’ll become the bitch that you need to be. You just keep going. It’s difficult to be a woman and a black girl who’s a boss, who’s trying to be the controller of her world. And, trust me, there’s nothing freaky about it. If I have to give you any kind of advice: Don’t take your foot off they neck. If you feel it and you’re intuitive about it, go forward with it.”
Before the conversation wraps, Summer divulges that she has always admired Badu’s stage presence. “Woman to woman, I want to be like that, to have that type of confidence.” She then adds that she aspires for that level of confidence.
Erykah acknowledges that this is a learned skill. “It just happens naturally. You just get tired enough. You learn personalities, and, trust me, we’re not trying to win an award for being the nicest and kindest person… You’re trying to get your vision fulfilled,” Badu said.
Read the entire feature over on Rolling Stone.
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