April 12, 2024

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Erykah Badu Gives Master Class in Neo-Soul & Hip-Hop at Los Angeles Concert

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Erykah Badu Gives Master Class in Neo-Soul & Hip-Hop at Los Angeles Concert


When Erykah Badu announced her latest tour, Unfollow Me, the singer-songwriter shared what fans could expect. “You can expect us to become one living breathing organism. You’ll receive my sincerest, purest love. I love what I do and I love doing it for you.”

The Grammy-winning artist made good on that promise during her Los Angeles stopover at Crypto.com Arena Saturday evening (June 17). 

Already hyped by a fun and memory-evoking opening set by yasiin bey, Badu kept fans on pins and needles as her drummer and percussionist fired up the crowd even further with energetic solo turns. Then, some 10 minutes later, the lady of the hour took the stage to loud cheers and shoutouts amid laser lights and lightning flashes across a giant video screen. But it was worth the wait. 

Opening her show with the fitting, self-empowering “20 Feet Tall,” Badu — wearing a feathered floor-length coat and tall head wrap that she later doffed for a slinky black dress with front-facing slits underneath — took command of the stage for the next hour and 45 minutes. From there the evening became a giant sing-along with an ethereal and playful Badu leading her faithful choir, beginning with the classic “On & On” peppered with humorous adlibs like “People in the back … what the F you looking at?”

After segueing into “…& On,” the Grammy winner dished up a host of flavorful tracks from her deep-rooted catalog, including “Appletree,” “No Love,” “Me,” “Time’s a Wastin,” “Kiss Me on My Neck,” “A.D. 2000,” “Didn’t Cha Know” and closer “Window Seat.” In the latter song, Badu smoothly sidled into a snippet of “Whipped Cream” by Ari Lennox, of whom she noted, “I love you, Ari.” Also eliciting massive sing-alongs that resonated throughout the arena: “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop),” “Otherside of the Game,” “Next Lifetime” and a very moving “Orange Moon.”

To an audience that ranged from ’60s- to 2000s -era fans, Badu declared of her game-changing 1997 debut album, Baduizm, “I wrote that for you ’90s babies,” as she recalled being pregnant with her first child while writing and recording the project. “So I’ve been waiting for you ’90s babies to grow up,” she said with a laugh.

The evening’s master class in neo-soul and hip-hop — in honor of the latter’s 50th anniversary this year — got off to a grand start with rap icon yasiin bey. The Brooklyn-born artist took the stage to heartwarming applause and shoutouts before delivering a strong 45-minute set. At times self-deprecating (at one point the rapper/singer-songwriter/actor referred to himself simply as “local talent” to audience laughter); at other moments twirling around onstage to his tracks with free abandon, bey referenced milestones in his long-running career as well with songs like “Auditorium,” “Casa Bey,” “Mathematics,” “Ms. Fat Booty” and “UMI Says.”

Adding an exclamation point to bey’s show was the surprise appearance of his former Black Star colleague and fellow Brooklynite Talib Kweli. The two hip-hop icons dove into a rollicking take on their 1998 gem “Respiration.”

Badu’s 25-city Unfollow Me tour with yasiin bey, produced by Outback Presents, launched in San Antonio on June 11 before making its fifth stop in Los Angeles. Upcoming shows include Sacramento (June 20), Seattle (June 23), Denver (June 26), Chicago (July 1), New York (July 8) and Atlanta (July 15) before wrapping in Badu’s hometown of Dallas (July 23). 





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