Tagged with "legendary"
Celebrating the life and Art of the legendary Dizzy Gillespie
Category: Voices of Jazz
Tags: dizz gillespie life art achievements legendary.voices jazz word life production new quality entertainment

John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie, along with Charlie Parker, ushered in the era of Be-Bop in the American jazz tradition. He was born Cheraw, South Carolina, and was the youngest of nine children. He began playing piano at the age of four and received a music scholarship to the Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina. Most noted for his trademark "swollen cheeks", Gillespie admitted to copying the style of trumpeter Roy Eldridge early in his career.

He replaced Eldridge in the 'Teddy Hill' Band after Eldridge's departure. He eventually began experimenting and creating his own style which would eventually come to the attention of Mario Bauza, the Godfather of Afro-Cuban jazz who was then a member of the Cap Calloway Orchestra, joining Calloway in 1939, Gillespie was fired after two years when he cut a portion of the Calloway's buttocks with a knife after Calloway accused him of throwing spitballs (the two men later became lifelong friends and often retold this story with great relish until both of their deaths).

Although noted for his on and off-stage clowning, Gillespie endured as one of the founding fathers of the Afro-Cuban &/or Latin Hazz tradition. Influenced by Bauza, known as Gillespies musical father, he was able to fuse Afro-American jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms to form a burgeoning CuBop sound. Always a musical ambassador, he toured Africa, the Middle East and Latin America under the sponsorship of the US State Department. Quite often he returned, not only with fresh musical ideas, but with musicians who would eventually go on the achieve world renown.

Among his proteges and collaborators are 'Chano Pozo'. the great Afro-Cuban percussionist; Danilo perez, a master pianist and composer originally from Pnama; Arturo Sandoval, trumpeter, composer and music educator originally from Cuba; Mongo Santamaria, an Afro-Cuban conguero, bongeuro and composer; David Sanchez, saxophonist and composer; Chucho Valdes, an Afro-Cuban virtuoso pianist and composer; and Bobby Sanabria, a Bronx, NY-born Nuyorican percussionist, composer, educator, bandleader and expert in the Afro-Cuban musical tradition. Indeed, many Latin jazz classics such as "Manteca", "A Night in Tunisia" and "Guachi Guaro [Soul Sauce]" were composed by Gillespie and his musical collaborators.

With a strong sense of pride in his Afro-American heritage, he left a legacy of musical excellence that embraced and fused all musical forms, but particularly those forms with roots deep in Africa such as the music of Cuba, other Latin American countries and the Caribbean. Additionally, he left a legacy of goodwill and good humor that infused jazz musicians and fans throughout the world with the genuine sense of jazz's ability to transcend national and ethnic boundaries--for this reason, Gillespie was and is an international treasure.

Source: Official Website

Salt N' Pepper are the original Queens of Hip Hop
Category: Classic Hip Hop
Tags: legendary hip hop feature blog word life production classic hip hop salt pepper queens

By the late '80s, hip-hop was on its way to becoming a male-dominated art form, which is what made the emergence of Salt-n-Pepa so significant. As the first all-female rap crew (even their DJs were women) of importance, the group broke down a number of doors for women in hip-hop. They were also one of the first rap artists to cross over into the pop mainstream, laying the groundwork for the music's widespread acceptance in the early '90s. Salt-n-Pepa were more pop-oriented than many of their contemporaries, since their songs were primarily party and love anthems, driven by big beats and interlaced with vaguely pro-feminist lyrics that seemed more powerful when delivered by the charismatic and sexy trio. While songs like "Push It" and "Shake Your Thang" made the group appear to be a one-hit pop group during the late '80s, Salt-n-Pepa defied expectations and became one of the few hip-hop artists to develop a long-term career. Along with LL Cool J, the trio had major hits in both the '80s and '90s, and, if anything, they hit the height of their popularity in 1994, when "Shoop" and "Whatta Man" drove their third album, Very Necessary, into the Top Ten.

Hot, Cool & Vicious

Cheryl "Salt" James and Sandy "Pepa" Denton were working at a Sears store in Queens, New York, when their co-worker, and Salt's boyfriend, Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor asked the duo to rap on a song he was producing for his audio production class at New York City's Center for Media Arts. The trio wrote an answer to Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick's "The Show," entitling it "The Show Stopper." The song was released as a single under the name Super Nature in the summer of 1985, and it became an underground hit, peaking at number 46 on the national R&B charts. Based on its success, the duo, who were now named Salt-n-Pepa after a line in "The Show Stopper," signed with the national indie label Next Plateau. Azor, who had become their manager, produced their 1986 debut Hot, Cool & Vicious, which also featured DJ Pamela Green. He also took songwriting credit for the album, despite the duo's claims that they wrote many of its lyrics.

 

A Salt With a Deadly Pepa

Three singles from Hot, Cool & Vicious -- "My Mike Sounds Nice," "Tramp," "Chick on the Side" -- became moderate hits in 1987 before Cameron Paul, a DJ at a San Francisco radio station, remixed "Push It," the B-side of "Tramp," and it became a local hit. "Push It" was soon released nationally and it became a massive hit, climbing to number 19 on the pop charts; the single became one of the first rap records to be nominated for a Grammy. Salt-n-Pepa jettisoned Greene and added rapper and DJ Spinderella (born Deidre "Dee Dee" Roper) before recording their second album, A Salt With a Deadly Pepa. Though the album featured the Top Ten R&B hit "Shake Your Thang," which was recorded with the go-go band E.U., it received mixed reviews and was only a minor hit.

 

 

A Blitz of Salt-N-Pepa Hits: The Hits Remixed

The remix album A Blitz of Salt-n-Pepa Hits was released in 1989 as the group prepared their third album, Blacks' Magic. Upon its spring release, Blacks' Magic was greeted with strong reviews and sales. The album was embraced strongly by the hip-hop community, whose more strident members accused the band of trying too hard to crossover to the pop market. "Expression" spent eight weeks at the top of the rap charts and went gold before it was even cracked the pop charts, where it would later peak at 26. Another single from the album, "Let's Talk About Sex," became their biggest pop hit to date, climbing to number 13. They later re-recorded the song as a safe-sex rap, "Let's Talk About AIDS."

 

Before they recorded their fourth album, Salt-n-Pepa separated from Azor, who had already stopped seeing Salt several years ago. Signing with London/Polygram, the group released Very Necessary in 1993. The album was catchy and sexy without being a sellout, and the group's new, sophisticated sound quickly became a monster hit. "Shoop" reached number four on the pop charts, which led the album to the same position as well. "Whatta Man," a duet with the vocal group En Vogue, reached number three on both the pop and R&B charts in 1994. A final single from the album, "None of Your Business," was a lesser hit, but it won the Grammy for Best Rap Performance in 1995. Since the release of Very Necessary, Salt-n-Pepa have been quiet, spending some time on beginning acting careers. Both had already appeared in the 1993 comedy Who's the Man?

Artist Biography by

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/salt-n-pepa-mn0000294891/biography

 

IN THIS MONTH'S LEGENDARY CORNER WE'RE HONORED TO PRESENT EARTH, WIND, AND FIRE Tags: earth wind fire legendary corner word life production feature

During the 1970s, a new brand of pop music was born - one that was steeped in African and African-American styles - particularly jazz and R&B but appealed to a broader cross-section of the listening public. As founder and leader of the band Earth, Wind & Fire, Maurice White not only embraced but also helped bring about this evolution of pop, which bridged the gap that has often separated the musical tastes of black and white America. It certainly was successful, as EWF combined high-caliber musicianship, wide-ranging musical genre eclecticism, and '70s multicultural spiritualism. "I wanted to do something that hadn't been done before," Maurice explains. "Although we were basically jazz musicians, we played soul, funk, gospel, blues, jazz, rock and dance music...which somehow ended up becoming pop. We were coming out of a decade of experimentation, mind expansion and cosmic awareness. I wanted our music to convey messages of universal love and harmony without force-feeding listeners' spiritual content."

Maurice was born December 19, 1941, in Memphis, TN. He was immersed in a rich musical culture that spanned the boundaries between jazz, gospel, R&B, blues and early rock. All of these styles played a role in the development of Maurice's musical identity. At age six, he began singing in his church's gospel choir but soon his interest turned to percussion. He began working gigs as a drummer while still in high school. His first professional performance was with Booker T. Jones, who eventually achieved stardom as Booker T and the MGs.

After graduating high school, Maurice moved to the Windy City to continue his musical education at the prestigious Chicago Conservatory Of Music. He continued picking up drumming jobs on the side, which eventually lead to a steady spot as a studio percussionist with the legendary Chicago label, Chess Records. At Chess, Maurice had the privilege of playing with such greats as Etta James, Fontella Bass, Billy Stewart, Willie Dixon, Sonny Stitt and Ramsey Lewis, whose trio he joined in 1967. He spent nearly three years as part of the Ramsey Lewis Trio. "Ramsey helped shape my musical vision beyond just the music," Maurice explains. "I learned about performance and staging." Maurice also learned about the African thumb piano, or Kalimba, an instrument whose sound would become central to much of his work over the years.

In 1969, Maurice left the Ramsey Lewis Trio and joined two friends in Chicago, Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead, as a songwriting team composing songs and commercials in the Chicago area. The three friends got a recording contract with Capitol and called themselves the "Salty Peppers," and had a marginal hit in the Mid-western area called "La La Time." That band featured Maurice on vocals, percussion and Kalimba along with keyboardists/vocalists Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead.

After relocating to Los Angeles and signing a new contract with Warner Bros., Maurice simultaneously made what may have been the smartest move of his young career. He changed the band's name to Earth, Wind & Fire (after the three elements in his astrological chart). The new name also captured Maurice's spiritual approach to music - one that transcended categories and appealed to multiple artistic principals, including composition, musicianship, production, and performance. In addition to White, Flemons and Whitehead, Maurice recruited Michael Beal on guitar, Leslie Drayton, Chester Washington and Alex Thomas on horns, Sherry Scott on vocals, percussionist Phillard Williams and his younger brother Verdine on bass.

Earth, Wind & Fire recorded two albums for Warner Brothers: the self-titled 1970 album Earth, Wind And Fire and the 1971 album The Need Of Love. A single from this album, "I Think About Lovin' You," provided EWF with their first Top 40 R&B hit. Also in 1971, the group performed the soundtrack to the Melvin Van Peebles film 'Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song'.

In 1972, White dissolved the line-up (except he and brother Verdine White) and added Jessica Cleaves (vocals - formerly of the R&B group The Friends of Distinction), Ronnie Laws (flute, saxophone), Roland Bautista (guitar), Larry Dunn (keyboard), Ralph Johnson (percussion) and Philip Bailey (vocals, formerly of Friends & Love). Maurice became disillusioned with Warner Brothers, which had signed the group primarily as a jazz act. Maurice, in contrast, was more interested in combining elements of jazz, rock, and soul into an evolving form of fusion, a truly universal sound.

A performance at New York's Rockefeller Center introduced EWF to Clive Davis, then President of Columbia Records. Davis loved what he saw and bought their contract from Warner Bros. With Columbia Records, debuting with the 1972 album Last Days And Time, the group slowly began to build a reputation for innovative recordings and exciting, live shows, complete with feats of magic (floating pianos, spinning drum kits, vanishing artists) engineered by Doug Henning and his then-unknown assistant David Copperfield. Their first gold album, Head To The Sky, peaked at number 27 pop in the summer of 1973, yielding a smooth tangy cover of "Evil" and the title track single. The first platinum EWF album, Open Our Eyes, whose title track was a remake of the classic originally recorded by Savoy Records group the Gospel Clefs, included "Mighty Mighty" (number four R&B) and "Kalimba Story" (number six R&B).

Maurice once again shared a label roster with Ramsey Lewis, whose Columbia debut Sun Goddess, was issued in December 1974. The radio-aired title track was released as a single under the name Ramsey Lewis and Earth, Wind & Fire. It went to number 20 R&B in early 1975. The Sun Goddess album went gold, hitting number 12 pop in early 1975. Maurice had also played on Lewis' other high-charting album, Wade in the Water; the title track single peaked at number three R&B in the summer of 1966.

The inspiration for "Shining Star" (one of EW&F's most beloved singles) was gleaned from thoughts Maurice had during a walk under the star-filled skies that surrounded the mountains around Caribou Ranch, CO a popular recording site and retreat during the '70s. The track was originally included in the 'That's The Way of the World' movie that starred Harvey Keitel and was produced by Sig Shore (Superfly). "Shining Star" glittered at number one R&B for two weeks and hit number one pop in early 1975. It was included on their 1975 multi-platinum album That's The Way Of The World that held the number one pop spot for three weeks in Spring 1975 and earned them their first Grammy Award. The title track single made it to number five R&B in summer of 1975. It also yielded the classic ballad "Reasons," an extremely popular radio-aired album track.

The multi-platinum album Gratitude held the number one pop album spot for three weeks in late 1975. On the album was "Singasong" (gold, number one R&B for two weeks, number five pop), the Skip Scarborough ballad "Can't Hide Love" (number 11 R&B), and the popular radio-aired album tracks "Celebrate," "Gratitude," and the live version of "Reasons." In 1976, Maurice decided he wanted to record a spiritual album. The multi-platinum album Spirit parked at number two pop for two weeks in fall of 1976 and boasted the gold, number one R&B single "Getaway" and "Saturday Nite." Spirit is remembered as one of EWF's best albums and sadly for also being the last project of Producer Charles Stepney. He died May 17, 1976, in Chicago, IL, at the age of 45. Charles was a former Chess Records arranger/producer/session musician/multi-instrumentalist/songwriter and Maurice's main collaborator on his EWF projects. The multi-platinum album All 'N All peaked at number three pop in late 1977, won three Grammy's, and had arrangements by Chicago soul mainstay Tom Tom Washington and Eumir Deodato. The singles were "Serpentine Fire" (number one R&B for seven weeks) and "Fantasy." The group's horn section, the legendary Phenix Horns (Don Myrick on saxophone, Louis Satterfield on trombone, Rahmlee Michael Davis and Michael Harris on trumpets) became an integral part of the Earth, Wind & Fire sound.

During this time, Maurice produced several artists such as The Emotions (1976's Flowers and 1977's Rejoice which included the number one R&B/pop hit "Best Of My Love") and Deniece Williams (1976's This Is Niecy which included the Top Ten R&B hit "Free"). In the late seventies, in association with Columbia Records, Maurice also launched a record label, ARC.

The multi-platinum greatest-hits set The Best Of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. I included a cover of the Beatles' "Got To Get You Into My Life" went to number one R&B and number nine pop in Summer 1978. The group performed the song in the 1978 Bee Gees/Peter Frampton movie 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'. Another single, "September," made it to number one R&B, number eight pop in early 1978. On the flip side was the enchanting popular radio-aired album track "Love's Holiday" from All 'N All.

Their live performances were stellar as well. Sellout crowds were spellbound by the band's bombastic performances. Their performances blasted a cosmic wave of peace, love and other happy vibrations to audiences using a combination of eye-popping costumes, lights, pyrotechnics and plain old good music. Sometimes they even threw in magic illusions. Earth, Wind & Fire's message was one of universal harmony, in both musical and cultural senses. "We live in a negative society," Maurice told Newsweek. "Most people can't see beauty and love. I see our music as medicine."

The multi-platinum album I Am hit number three pop in Summer 1979 on the strength of the million-selling single "Boogie Wonderland" with The Emotions (number two R&B for four weeks, number six pop) and the phenomenal gold ballad "After The Love Has Gone," written by David Foster, Jay Graydon and Bill Champlin that stayed at number two R&B/pop for two weeks. Their Faces album peaked at number ten pop in late 1980 and was boosted to gold by the singles "Let Me Talk" (number eight R&B), "You" (number ten R&B), and "And Love Goes On."

The million-selling funked-up "Let's Groove," co-written by The Emotions' Wanda Vaughn and her husband Wayne Vaughn, was the track that re-energized EWF's career, parking at number one R&B for eight weeks and number three pop, causing their Raise! album to go platinum (hitting number five pop in late 1981). Their next gold album Powerlight made it to number 12 pop in spring 1983 and included the Top Ten R&B single and Grammy-nominated "Fall In Love With Me." Their 1983 Electric Universe album stalled at number 40 pop, breaking the band's string of gold, platinum and multi-platinum albums.

In 1983, Maurice decided he and the band needed a break. During this hiatus, Maurice recorded his self-titled solo album Maurice White and produced various artists including Neal Diamond, Barbra Streisand and Jennifer Holliday. Reuniting with the band in 1987, EWF released the album Touch The World and scored yet another number one R&B single, "System of Survival" and embarked on a corresponding nine-month world tour. This was followed by the 1988 release The Best Of Earth, Wind & Fire Vol. II.

In 1990 the group released the album Heritage. Two years later, Earth, Wind & Fire released The Eternal Dance; a 55-track boxed set retrospective of the band's entire history. The appearance of such a project after a prolonged period of relative inactivity signaled to many listeners that the band was calling it quits but that did not turn out to be case. In 1993, EWF released the album, Millennium that included the Grammy-nominated "Sunday Morning" and "Spend The Night."

Earth, Wind & Fire kept recording and in 1996 released Avatar and Greatest Hits Live; followed by 1997's In The Name Of Love; 2002's That's The Way Of The World: Alive In '75; Live In Rio which was recorded during their 1979 "I Am World Tour;" 2003's The Promise, which included the Grammy-nominated "Hold Me" and 2005's Illumination, which included the Grammy-nominated "Show Me The Way."

In 2000, the nine-piece '70s edition of Earth, Wind & Fire reunited for one night only in honor of their induction into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. In 2001, Eagle Rock Entertainment released the documentary 'Earth, Wind & Fire: Shining Stars', which contains rarely seen historic video footage along with in-depth interviews with the band members.

Even though Maurice is no longer a part of the touring group, he remains the band's heart and soul from behind the scenes as composer and producer. Maurice reflects, "I wanted to create a library of music that would stand the test of time. ‘Cosmic Consciousness' is the key component of our work. Expanding awareness and uplifting spirits is so important in this day. People are looking for more. I hope our music can give them some encouragement and peace."

IN THIS MONTH'S LEGENDARY CORNER-THE FREESTYLE KING, SUPER NATURAL Tags: legendary corner super natural freestyle king hip hop featured artist word life production

 Reco Price (born April 23, 1970), better known by his stage name Supernatural (aka Super Nat or MC Supernatural) is an American rapper best known for his "on-the-spot" freestyle and battle rap abilities[1][2] He has been a regular performer and host of the Rock the Bells Music Festival since its beginning in 2004. Born in Marion, Indiana, Supernatural began rhyming at the age of 10.[4] Moving to New York City at the age of 19, Supernatural began to make a name for himself on the hip hop scene rhyming in local night clubs. By 1993, he had landed a radio-show on 98.7 Kiss-FM where he met KRS-One from the group Boogie Down Productions who became not only a friend but his business manager.[5] Supernatural signed with Elektra Records in 1995 and recorded an album titled "Natural Disasters". He reportedly had a dispute with Elektra and was subsequently dropped from the label, leaving the album unreleased until 2000.

His freestyle rapping battles with MC Juice and Craig G are highly regarded. Using a line that simultaneously revealed Supernatural's origin and referenced pop culture ("When you go back home to Indiana, get Mike Tyson out the slammer"), Craig G. delivered Supernatural the first major loss of his career as a freestyle battle rapper at the New Music Seminar in 1994.

Supernatural later arranged a rematch with Craig G. The outcome of this competition was inconclusive though decisively in Supernatural's favor, due to emotional distress on the part of Craig G, who ended the battle. Supernatural's story and performances are reported in the documentary film Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme, which contains clips of his and Craig G's battle. The film also contains clips of a notable battle between Supernatural and MC Juice, another popular freestyle rapper who was featured on the Wake Up Show. In this competition, Supernatural defeated MC Juice in two of three freestyle rounds, although, reportedly, there were disputes over the legitimacy of this conclusion.

Supernatural released several singles prior to 1997. He has also released 2 full-length albums, including "Natural Disasters" and "S.P.I.T. (Spiritual Poetry Ignites Thought)" (2005, Up Above Records), which features Raekwon (of the Wu Tang Clan), B-Real (of Cypress Hill), and Chali 2na (of Jurassic 5). A compilation of previously-recorded tracks entitled "The Lost Freestyle Files" was released in 2003.[6]

On August 5, 2006, Supernatural successfully set a new world record for the longest continuous freestyle rap while hosting the Rock the Bells festival in San Bernardino, CA. The nine-hour and fifteen minute session earned him a place in the Guinness World Records., [7] breaking Canadian rapper D. O.'s record of 8 hours and 45 minutes. On September 12, 2009, Supernatural's record was broken by the Brooklyn-based rapper DJ Green Arrow, whose record of 9 Hours and 57 minutes was set at St. Mark's Church. DJ Green Arrow reported, on the True School Radio show, that Supernatural inspired him to take freestyle rapping seriously.

 

IN THIS MONTH'S LEGENDARY CORNER-THE BEAUTIFUL ERICA BADU Tags: erica badu legendary corne word life production underground network

 There is perhaps one story that explains Erykah Badu’s cyclical outlook on her new album, New Amerykah Part Two:Return Of The Ankh, and it involves a visit to a Santeria priest in Cuba in 1999. Dressed for the occasion, Badu wore an all-white dress and, despite the humid weather, her signature towering head wrap. As she sat on the dusty sidewalk waiting to enter the house of Ifa, a young man who could best be described as curious looking barreled down next to her, popped open a can of beer, lit a cigarette, and began making small talk to another guy who Badu assumed was also waiting for a reading. Soon after, the house door opened and a charming old lady welcomed her; the young man, dressed in white cut-off denim shorts and a faded American sportswear jersey, followed them into the house. Uncertain of his reason for being there, Badu became reserved and uncomfortable with the idea of someone else sitting in on her reading.And then it dawned on her: This young manwas the priest. He came from a long line of respected priests. He didn’t have to wear fancy garments, or signal his faith with outward expressions. He just was. From that moment on, Badu’s head wrap came off — both figuratively and literally.

When Badu says “return of the ankh,” she doesn’t mean she’s returning to wearing the head wrap or any other accessory that evokes 1997’s Baduizm epoch. She means much more. The return of the ankh is the return of a feeling, what makes her creative, what makes her passionate, what makes her Badu.

Born Erica Wright on February 26, 1971 in Dallas, Texas, Erykah Badu inherited a taste for music from her mother Kolleen Wright, who introduced her to multiple genres of music (Joni Mitchell, Parliament-Funkadelic, Pink Floyd, Phoebe Snow, Chaka Khan). At the tender age of four, Badu began singing and dancing in productions at the local Dallas Theatre Centre. It wasn’t until her acting debut in the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreational Center’s musical production of “Really Rosie,” directed by her godmother Gwen Hargrove, that Badu realized she was a natural performer. “I played Alligator,” Badu says, “and at 6 years old, I got my first standing ovation. I knew I wanted to bring people to their feet from that point on.

Badu stayed true to her artistic leanings and enrolled at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts in the late ’80s. Tomboyish and a bit of a class clown, Badu devoted most of her time to perfecting her dance form, studying the techniques of Martha Graham and Katherine Dunham, as well as practicing ballet, tap, and modern dance. Badu also sharpened her Hip-Hop skills, freestyling on the Dallas radio station 90.9 FM KNON under the name Apples the Alchemist until she eventually changed the spelling of her name from “Erica Wright” to “Erykah Badu,” “kah” being Kemetic (Egyptian) for a human’s vital energy or “inner-self” and “ba-du” after her favorite jazz scat-sound. But later, Badu would discover that her chosen name holds a far deeper meaning.

Badu enrolled at Grambling State University, where she majored in theater and minored in Quantum Physics. She left in 1993 to pursue music full-time. During the day, she taught drama and dance at the South Dallas Cultural Center and worked as a coffeehouse waitress. At night, she recorded and performed songs like “Appletree,” produced by her cousin Robert “Free” Bradford. In 1994, her 19-song demo caught the attention of aspiring record executive Kedar Massenburg by way of the SXSW music festival. Massenburg signed her to his upstart label Kedar Entertainment. The company eventually merged with Motown/Universal and Badu started opening for D’Angelo, prepping the world for the massive Neo soul movement to come.

The New York Times described Badu’s groundbreaking debut, 1997’s Baduizm, as “traditional soul vocals, staccato hip-hop rhythms and laid-back jazzy grooves.” Yet, hindsight reveals that Badu’s debut was more than just an album, it was the introduction of a new lifestyle. The music evoked speakeasies, incense, head wraps, and boho coffee shop culture all in one easy breath. Propelled by the lead single “On & On,” the album went multi-platinum, winning her two Grammys for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Album. Badu topped Rolling Stone’s Reader’s poll for Best R&B Artist, and Entertainment Weekly named her Best New Female Singer of 1997.

The year yielded more blessings as Badu gave birth to her first child, Seven Sirius, whose father is the legendary Andre Benjamin of OutKast on the same day that her second LP, 1997’s Live, was released in the U.S. Live rode the wave of Baduizm’s success, going double-platinum. On the album, Badu showed that she could not be categorized, as the improvised “Tyrone” became a megahit, peaking at No. 1 for six weeks straight.

In addition to reinforcing her reputation as a dynamic live performer, Badu’s big screen debut as Rose Rose in the 1999 film The Cider House Rules added another credit to her brown bag of artistic miscellany. And in 2000, she opened her trophy cabinet once again to welcome a Grammy award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for her appearance on “You Got Me” by The Roots.

These checkpoints only heightened anticipation for Badu’s second studio album, 2000’s Mama’s Gun. A rich assembly of soul, funk, and organic Hip-Hop textures, Mama’s Gun achieved platinum status and topped the R&B charts for seven weeks bolstered by the album’s lead single “Bag Lady.” The song’s video paid homage to Ntozake Shange’s award-winning play, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf,” with Badu presenting a “choreopoem” performed by herself and four other dancers. The album also marked the beginning of her collaborations with the late J Dilla, who produced “Didn’t Cha Know” and “Kiss Me On My Neck (Hesi),” and to whom Badu pays tribute on a track called “Telephone” from 2008’s New Amerykah Part One: 4th World War. Capped off with the emotional hit “Green Eyes,” Mama’s Gun packed a graceful combination of potent lyrics and stirring melisma, surpassing Baduizm’s first week numbers with more than 190,000 copies sold.

In the three years between Mama’s Gun and Badu’s next release, 2003’s Worldwide Underground, the singer-songwriter went on her affectionately dubbed “The Frustrated Artist” tour to inspire new material for the album. On the CD—which was recorded in Badu’s mobile recording studio on her tour bus and features guest appearances by Lenny Kravitz, Caron Wheeler, and Zap Mama—Badu would also debut her new production team, FREAQuency (Badu, James Poyser, Rashad “Ringo-Tumbling Dice” Smith, and R.C. Williams). By September 2003, Worldwide Underground, an experimental, atmospheric jam session, was ready for release. In keeping with her track record for collaborating with Hip-Hop’s finest, Worldwide Underground found Badu enjoying critical acclaim for the crunk “Danger” and “Love of My Life Worldwide,” which featured femcees du jour Bahamadia, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, and soul singer Angie Stone.

Badu also kept busy outside of the lab. In 2003, she founded her non-profit group, B.L.I.N.D. (Beautiful Love Incorporated Non-Profit Development), which is geared toward creating social change through economic, artistic, and cultural development. She also transformed the legendary Forest Theater in South Dallas into a headquarters for live shows and charity benefits. “When I came home, I saw the bad condition the building was in,” says Badu. “I felt like it was my job to reestablish music there, to reformat the whole thing and refit it.” Among B.L.I.N.D.’s many accomplishments, the organization has provided arts, crafts, and dance classes to children displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

In 2004, Badu gave birth to her daughter Puma Sabti, who she describes as a “mini-me.” In September of that same year, Badu appeared in the Brooklyn-based concert documentary Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, performing an animated set that included the hits “Back in the Day (Puff)” and the Grammy-winning smash “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop).” Along with Queen Latifah andJill Scott,Badu also founded a successful summer festival tour called Sugar Water. Also in 2004, Badu’s charitable efforts helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the scholarship fund at St. Phillips School and Community Center in Dallas, Texas.

Badu flexed her entrepreneurial muscles with the launch of her own label, Control FreaQ, in 2005. The label, whose mission is to “free the slaves and the slave masters” by allowing signed artists to own their own masters in a 10-year conversion deal, operates primarily as a production house. Control FreaQ’s first project is developing New Orleans-born MC/Lyricist Jay Electronica. The label also produces remixed records and supports Badu’s side projects such as The Cannabinoids, the group she founded with Dallas-based DJs, musicians and beatsmiths, which is an improvisation production akin to a live “remix” set.

In 2008, as the U.S. engaged in the Iraq War and the nation prepared for an historic presidential election, Badu presented her own offering for the evolving times with New Amerykah Part One: 4th World War. Badu’s fourth studio album and the first installment of the two-part New Amerykah series kept Badu’s Hip-Hop spirit kindled. New Amerykah Part One boasts beats from the best soundsmiths in the game — including Madlib, 9th Wonder, Shafiq Husayn (for Sa-Ra Creative Partners), Sa-Ra, Karriem Riggins, Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson of The Roots, James Poyser, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Mike “Chav” Chavaria. With the singles “Honey” and “The Healer” generating significant cyberspace buzz, Badu reclaimed her cherished throne as a soul music phenom. New Amerykah Part One debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and Rolling Stone named it one of the year’s best albums.For the once self-proclaimed “analog girl,” Badu is now pushing the limits of the digital world. On February 1, 2009, Badu and boyfriend Jay Electronica blogged about the birth of their daughter Mars Merkab in real-time on the micro-blogging site Twitter, thus becoming the first celebrity couple to ever Tweet the birth of a child.

In 2010, Badu announced yet another new arrival: New Amerykah Part Two: Return Of The Ankh. Whereas Part One was social and political in tone, Part Two taps into the more romantic and emotional side of Badu. “It reminds me of the days of Baduizm,” she says. “It’s just about beats and rhymes in a cipher.” 

Indeed, diehard fans of Badu will love New Amerykah Part Two: Return Of The Ankh and newcomers to Badu’s world will be curiously intrigued by the mystique and authenticity of an artist who is totally comfortable in her own skin. Whether directing a dope music video or exposing her vulnerabilities in rhyme, Badu transcends image. Just like the Santeria priest she met in Cuba, Badu no longer tries to be, she just is.

For more information, please visit:
www.BaduWorld.com and www.ErykahBadu.com


 

RSS
Spread the word
Search

This website is powered by Spruz