Known by many as the queen of Neo-Soul; Texan born, American singer-songwriter Erykah Badu has developed a cult following over the years and has stamped her mark on the world of soul and hip-hop music. Described as being a modern-day Billie Holiday, the supremely talented singer draws her influences from Jazz, soul and classic hip-hop. She was involved in the arts from a very young age, however she started getting noticed after she supported visiting artists such as D’Angelo in her home town of Dallas. After being spotted and signed by D’Angelo’s manager and owner of Kedar Entertainment Records, Badu exploded onto the music scene with her first album ‘Baduizm’ in 1997. Kedar Entertainment had clearly seen something special in Badu as her lackadaisical and delicate vocals resonated with millions worldwide. ‘Baduizm’ was the first of many albums and went on to receive triple-platinum certification, one of the most respected and cemented levels of recognition in world music. Her initial success led her to work with some of the greatest musicians in hip-hop. Collaborating and featuring on the work of artists such as J Dilla, The Roots, Wu-Tang, Common and Outkast were becoming somewhat of a regular occurrence for Badu in the height of her fame.
Badu’s third studio album ‘Mama’s Gun’ is no exception when showcasing her mind-blowingly sumptuous and soft vocal ability. The album provides an unbelievably soothing collection of neo-soul classics that simply cannot go unheard. One of those is this week’s track of the week ‘Didn’t Cha Know’. The rolling, soulful single was produced by J Dilla and is unsurprisingly laced by yet again, more mellifluous majesty from the voice of Ms Erykah Badu. The two have collaborated countless times as they were both part of The Soulquarians, a movement which included the likes of Questlove, Common, Mos Def and many more. ‘Didn’t Cha Know’ carries an explorative air, beckoning a sense of discovery. Music critic Kieran Yates describes it as “Badu at her most raw” with the single “Capturing those moments of being lost and losing your sense of logic”. It could be easy to see how the wonder of Badu’s voice makes it easy to steal the spotlight from the phenomenal production; however, the two compliment each other better than syrup and all-butter pancakes. For me, I would go as far as saying that ‘Didn’t Cha Know’ might be one of Dilla’s greatest beats of all time. The beat samples the 1976 single ‘Dreamflower’ by funk musician Takira Blue and toys between an upbeat bass-line and a melting, reverberating guitar riff. Pure production gold.
Badu is still producing music today and has announced music and new releases over the past few years. Still a tender age of fourty-six, Badu has a long chunk of her career left and, although Neo-Soul might not be as prevalent as it was, there is a well-deserved space for the languorous lyricist at any point in musical history.
Listen & enjoy here –