Erykah's Evolution

Erykah's Evolution
ESSENCE.COM Mar, 29, 2010

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We’d not seen or heard anybody like Erykah Badu when she emerged with her 1997 debut, “Baduizm.” From day one, she created her own lane and has kept us mesmerized ever since.

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Christened as the queen of the neo-soul movement, Badu was rarely seen without her signature headwrap during the early days. Since retiring the cloth, she continues to switch it up between afros, short naturals, dreads and every hairstyle in-between.

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Erykah Badu was overjoyed to win the Grammy for Best R&B Album for her groundbreaking debut, “Baduizm.” She later delivered an incredible live album, which included an ode to this brother by the name of “Tyrone.”

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On her sophomore studio album, “Mama’s Gun,” Badu seemed to be looking inside herself for the answers. “Orange Moon” and “Cleva” were standout tracks, but we couldn’t turn away when she rocked a shaved head in the video for “Didn’t Cha Know.” The year was 2000 and a new Erykah was emerging, right before our eyes.

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Erykah arrived at the 2001 Grammys with a shaved head and subtle, tribal-esque make-up. She proved, yet again, that she was one of the boldest, most beautiful artists on the scene.

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After keeping her hair close to her scalp for a bit, Badu decided that she was going to bring back the afro…and so she did, rather fabulously.

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By the time Badu released the funk-laden “Worldwide Underground” in 2003, it was evident that her creativity and versatility were boundless. Led by the head-banging single, “Danger,” this collection should always be on heavy-rotation.

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No matter how she styles her hair, which colors adorn her skin or what outfits she chooses to wear, Erykah Badu’s pure essence always shines through.

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In 2005, Badu stepped up her business game with the launch of her label, Control Freaq Records. Her ever-expanding resume also includes acting roles (“Cider House Rules” and “House of D”) and soundtrack credits. “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop)” from “Brown Sugar” is still one of our favorites.

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Badu runs her fingers through her billowy ‘fro as she entertains concertgoers at Detroit’s Chene Park in the summer of ’07.

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An Erykah Badu concert is more than just a show—it’s an experience. Here, the multi-talented singer/songwriter does her thing on opening night of the 2007 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

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When it comes to fashion, we never quite know what to expect when she steps to the stage, but Badu always gives a good show.

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Badu sways her big ’fro and shimmies her hips in a four-tiered mini-dress during a 2008 tour performance with the Roots.

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When Badu released the first installment of “New Amerykah” in 2008, she let her presence be heard with the first single, “Honey.” The accompanying video— complete with Erykah morphed into iconic images from yesteryear—was one of the most creative clips we’ve ever seen.

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Badu’s spider lashes offer an expressive touch of drama to her riveting performance at Mizner Park Amphitheatre in Boca Raton during 2008.

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In 2008, Badu—then pregnant with her third child—was honored at the Third Annual Black Girls Rock Awards in New York.

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The Dallas native showed her fellow Texans some love when she took the stage at the Austin City Limits Festival in 2008.

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Badu’s sound is as unique as her hair and fashions. Here, she belts out one of her hits at the Spirit of Life Awards Dinner in 2008.

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Sporting a trench coat and hat, Badu shows off her more conservative side during a recent performance.

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Badu got her fans talking on the morning of Saturday, March 27th when she debuted her video clip for “Window Seat” on her website. She never disappoints.

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Following up on her 2008 album, “New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World Order,” Badu dropped “New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh” in 2010, and we continue to bounce to her ever-original tunes.


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