Erykah Badu

This has been a pretty interesting week for #BlackTwitter. Just days after the hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen forced many to engage in yet another conversation about how traditional feminism often leaves out the voices of women of color while expecting our support, and Jamilah Lemieux kicked off #BlackPowerIsForBlackMen, which prompted many to share the ways in which Black women are often forgotten (or unsupported) by our brothers, Russell Simmons’ All Def Digital released the “Harriet Tubman Sex Tape,” which spat in the face of one of the biggest icons of Black history (and sort of proved that Black power is indeed for Black men).  In the midst of the heavy conversations, exposed concerns, and sometimes hurt feelings, Global Grind (which is also owned by Simmons) ran an article about Erykah Badu’s legendary dealings with rappers.

While the article, “Badu’s Voodoo: Erykah Badu & The Effect She Has on Rappers (Kendrick too),” was written in jest (and most certainly inspired by Kendrick Larmar’s verse on “No I.D.”, his monstrous shot across the bow of nearly every rapper in the game), it once again reiterated the notion that every mistake, misstep, and questionable choice a man makes is because of a woman.

Brittany Lewis writes:

Erykah, Erykah, Erykah. Man, there’s just something about Erykah Badu.

Don’t know if it’s her energy or her spirit, her mesmerizing eyes or her deep soul, but whatever mysterious qualities Erykah Badu possesses, they’re magical.

Over the past year, Kendrick Lamar has expressed his desire to creatively work with the legendary soul singer, and at this year’s BET Awards, he finally got his wish. The unlikely pairing teamed up to perform Kendrick’s GKMC banger “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” and of course, Erykah killed it (in a good way).

Shortly after their performance, rumors began to swirl that the two artists were romantically seeing each other (both denied those allegations), but after hearing Kendrick’s “Control” verse, he must’ve picked up on Miss Badu’s infectious spirit.

Lewis then goes on to recount Badu’s relationships with rappers Andre 3000, the D.O.C., Common, and Jay Electronica—pinning their questionable fashion choices, change in musical styles, and delayed album releases on Badu’s supposed “voodoo” (want another take? Peep this 2007 article my girl Renina Jarmon shared on Erykah’s ‘Baduism,’ which was called a “musically transmitted disease.”)

While it’s easy (and fun) to crack jokes on Common’s knitted sweaters and Jay Electronica’s near disappearance from rap after being hailed as the second coming of Nas, “blaming” Badu for the failings of her former flames is indicative of how women have been seen (and written about and treated) throughout history.

Jezebel. Delilah. Medusa. The mule of the world. Every Tyler Perry movie ever. Women, and particularly Black women, have bore the brunt of responsibility for the downfall of men for centuries.

In the Bible, Delilah’s greed nearly took down the strongest man in history, Eve got us all kicked out of the garden, and Salome was blamed for having Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, beheaded. Fast forward to the present day, and women who are victims are often made the scapegoat when the sh*t hits the fan–Anita Hill was bullied for trying to “take down” a Black man in line for a seat on the Supreme Court; Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of rape, was called a liar; the 11-year-old gang rape victim in Cleveland, Texas was said to be too fast for her own good; and Rihanna was blamed for being assaulted by her ex, because you know how West Indian women are. I could go on.

What happened to personal responsibility? What happened to men (and women) taking ownership of their personal failings instead of blaming them on someone else?

Why are women always to blame when a pastor or married man or politician falls from grace?

While Erykah Badu may be an amazing woman or lover or mother or artist or whatever, she is not to blame for the career missteps, crazy outfit choices, and album delays of her mates. If anything, they should be asking for her advice, because since she burst on the scene in 1997, Badu’s released six albums, sold millions, birthed three babies, been a practicing doula, crisscrossed the world, reinvented herself countless times, and is one of the best-looking 42-year-olds I’ve ever seen.

If Badu’s voodoo is real, dudes should cover themselves with it and hope their career is as dope as hers.

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  • A fan of critical thinking

    So it seems the article states that erykah Badu or women on a whole can do no wrong…

    Maybe if we specify the failings of these said men can be the influence she gave- in creating music knowing they dont have thesame skill level there.

    That’s why when she worked with Questlove or D’angelo, it worked..

    Commons album (electric….) may have been better if he stayed in his musical lane. Erykah understands music in the way that it is created…Common had his opp. but he slipped. But she did play an influence on him.

    If anything Erykah was a bad advisor. She could’ve directed him in the creative level (and I think Aquarius gave hints to that) but for whatever reason it didn’t work.

    Lyrically Common is nicer, he undestands the power of the written word whereas Erykah is a bit more esoteric.

    If we specify, which this article doesn’t, we may perhaps see its a bit nuanced then SHE IS THE BLAME OR SHE ISN’T THE BLAME.

    And I love her music.

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  • Shana

    I think something can be said about white women and solidarity and feminism… Historically, our issues were not the same as those of white women.They were very close to that of Black Men. Why we decided to side with the ‘Lady of the House ‘rather than ur husbands, is beyond me…

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  • erica

    Great article! I felt as though this article could use more material though. It seems a bit short.

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