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Erykah Badu, born Erica Wright on February 19, 1976 in Dallas, Texas, declared in high school that she no longer wished to be addressed by her "slave name" and wished instead to be called Erykah, "kah" meaning "the inner-self which can do no wrong." Later, she inserted Badu because it was a skat sound she often made when she would sing to herself. Later, she discovered it was an Arabic word meaning "to manifest truth and light." Badu, who started doing freestyle rap at age 14, dropped out of school a few credits shy of graduating to pursue acting and singing.

Signing to Kedar Entertainment, ten thousand copies of her debut album Baduizm were distributed free at the 1996 Soul Train Awards. It turned out to be a genius marketing plan, as Baduizm later crashed into the chart at #2 with On & On in February 1997. Her mix of jazz and hip-hop grooves has her hailed as a modern day Billie Holiday. Her garb of traditional African dress made her a welcome addition to the neo-soul movement, yielding four Soul Train Awards for Baduizm in 1998. The success of Baduizm gave her the chance to finally try her hand at some acting as well, landing roles on daytime TV (One Life To Live) and in feature films (Blues Brothers 2000 and Cider House Rules 1999). Later in '97, she released Live!, highlighting her spiritual and fan-friendly stage show.

She has a son, Seven(his name, not his age), with Andre "Dre" Benjamin of Outkast. She also has worked very closely, opening for and performing with, The Roots on the song You Got Me and with Rahzel (of The Roots) alone on Suthern Gul.

In June of 2000 Baduizm was certified triple platinum and her second release ,Live! was certified double platinum. Her third album, Mama's Gun, was released 4 months later in October and went platinum 4 weeks later. Another fabulous teaming up should be mentioned here, this time on Mama's Gun with Steven Marley (Bob's son) on the son In Love With You.

No, Baduizm is not a cult, it's more a lifestyle, where self-respect is gained not by militant, fundamentalist action, but from the subtle ways we respect our peers and our minds. Much like a testament that contains truth-revealing parables, Badu even details in her liner notes who inspires each of her tracks. For Badu, "demonstrating the power of observation and the need to be surrounded by those peers is the key." The central theme of Baduizm as a philosophy in Erykah's life is best summed up in her song Appletree:

"See, I pick my friends like I pick my fruit,
My Granny told me that when I was only a youth.
I don't walk around tryin to be what I'm not.
I don't waste my time tryin to get what you got.
I work at pleasin me cause I can't please you,
And that's why I do what I do.
My soul flies free like a willow tree
Doo wee doo wee doo weee
And if you don't wanna be down with me
Then you don't wanna pick from my appletree..."

Discography:

Baduizm
released February 11, 1997, Universal Records

1. Rimshot (intro)
2. On & On
3. Appletree
4. Otherside of the Game
5. Sometimes (Mix #9)
6. Next Lifetime
7. Afro (Freestyle Skit)
8. Certainly
9. 4 Leaf Clover (cover of an old Atlantic Starr song)
10. No Love
11. Drama
12. Sometimes...
13. Certainly (Flipped out)
14. Rimshot(outro)

Erykah Badu : Keyboards, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Ron Carter : Bass
Madukwu Chinwah : Voices
Ike Lee Ill : Keyboards
N'Dambi : Voices
Bob Power : Guitar, Keyboards, Multi Instruments
Tone Da Backbone : Multi Instruments

Live!
released November 18, 1997, Universal Records

1. Rimshot (intro)
2. Other Side of the Game
3. On & On
4. Reprise
5. Appletree
6. Ye Yo
7. Searching
8. Boogie Nights/ All Night
9. Certainly
10. Stay
11. Next Lifetime (interlude)
12. Tyrone
13. Next Lifetime
14. Tyrone (extended version)

Erykah Badu : Vocals
Charles "Poogie" Bell, Jr. : Drums
Poogie Bell : Drums
Karen Bernod : Vocals (Background)
Hubert Eaves IV : Bass
Norman "Keys" Hurt : Keyboards
N'Dambi : Vocals (Background)
Joyce M. Strong : Vocals (Background)

Mama's Gun
released October 31, 2000, Motown Records

1. Penitentiary Philosophy
2. Didn't Cha Know
3. My Life
4. ...& On
5. Cleva
6. Hey Sugah
7. Booty
8. Kiss Me On My Neck
9. A.D. 2000
10. Orange Moon
11. In Love With You (with Steven Marley)
12. Bag Lady
13. Time's A Wastin'
14. Green Eyes

Erykah Badu : Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Leonard "Doc" Gibbs : Percussion
Larry Gold : Cello
Roy Hargrove : Trumpet
Carlos Henderson : Bass
Emma Kummrow : Violin
Shaun Martin : Keyboards
Charles Parker : Violin
Gregory Teperman : Violin
Ahmir Khalib Thompson : Drums
Geno "Junebugg" Young : Vocals (Background)
Yah Zarah : Vocals (Background)




Sources:
www.rockonthenet.com
www.rollingstone.com
www.inkbotmagazine.com

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