Life Lessons From Erykah Badu

“I just want one sip of whatever she’s drinking,” that’s what I told my friend as we watched Erykah Badu pour yet another serving of her infamous “tea.”  (Aren’t you a little curious as to what’s “really” in there?)

Anywho, she performed over the Memorial Day weekend in Baltimore (my hometown) and I must say, it was one of my favorite Badu performances to date.

While her shows are pretty consistent in style, it’s obvious that either Badu is on the comeback from heartache, she’s still enjoying the pleasures of herbal remedies or she just really doesn’t care.  It could be all of the above but it really seems like she’s found a way to free herself from the demands of public perception and expectations.  There’s a life lesson there, we’ll get back to it.

She started the show with my current favorite song, Out My Mind Just in Time and for the entire performance of that song I thought I was her backup singer.  Then she went into Me, a song where she often enjoys displaying her favorite finger at the thought of the media exploiting her journey and testimony.

She shocked much of the crowd when she later  dropped her black trench-coat and hat for a peach colored spring flowing dress. (Is Badu going back to her Mama’s Gotta Gun days?)  She even accompanied the dress with a few moves that verified that Badu was indeed… a woman.

Watching Ms. Badu perform made me think of one thing, what if more people could be that free?

What if our flaws, shortcomings, dysfunctional attributes were appreciated more than critiqued and criticized?  Who or what would we have to hide from then?  Only our belief in a higher power and a higher value of ourselves—right?

Would there be less stress and pressure to measure up to something often unrealistic?

Badu has had three children by three different men.  Is she supposed to hide that and be ashamed?  Or take it as life and the lessons she’s learned.  It may not even be, by her standards, wrong.  So who are we or rather, society, to suggest it is?

Who is perfect?  Who can really throw the first stone?

Unfortunately, we have been trained and conditioned to live in a box and we’ve been given examples and guidelines of what’s right and wrong. We drive ourselves crazy trying to fit that mold knowing that some of who we really are spiels over and we’re stuck trying to put a spanx on the bodies of our story.

I know that many of us have careers that are black and white.  Politicians and preachers often have to pretend and so do a lot of people like me and you.  Whether you’re doing it for your family, community, position, name…I’m sure a part of you wishes you could sip some of Badu’s tea and dance to the grooves of your own truths.

Other people may not appreaciate it, but I rather enjoy the backend often neglected stories that ultimately make people who they are.  And I rather think its usually an intriguing and beautiful person behind all of the make-up and black trench-coats that we wear.

But who am I?  I’m just a fan who may have been sprinkled with Badu’s fairy dust.  Pray for my return.

-Ashley Charisma is the author of School of Black Love.  For more info on Ashley Charisma and the novel visit www.ashleycharisma.com.

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13 Comments

  1. Love Erykah. Girl has REAL talent. She really CAN SING and doesn’t have to rely on showing her azz to sell music. (Unless she really wants too lol.) Her and only a handfew of todays artists are but a throwback to what singing use to be. In todays music generation you really dont have to be able to sing to make it in the biz. All you need is some good beats, and a hot song and you’re there. I have to give credit to some of todays artists like Chrisette, Alicia, Jill, Leela, Indie, Mariah, Jahiem, and Anthony. These people can actually sing and have talent. Some of them can actually play an instument. Unlike those other watered down artists that the music industry is shoving down our throats and talking about this is where we’ve come in todays music. RiRi, GaGa, Cici, Bey Bey, just go away. Give us some REAL talent. Do your thang Erykah.

  2. I have been Drinking some of her tea, That’s how i live my life, stay true to me first and foremost, and the rest people can just kiss it 🙂

  3. sorry but she can’t tell me nothing. she has been on a down slop for a minute now. from all this unprotected sex and babies by multiple dudes to now thinking that her stripping in public is art. she need go sit down and just do music i want nothing more from her. she don’t even have to do videos. just tell me when it comes out and i’ll come up with my own images.

  4. I like Mz. Badu because she has stayed true to who she is. She hasn’t changed to fit what’s happening now. You go girl.

    Peace, Love and Chocolate
    Tiffany

  5. I watched her at Dar Constitution Hall in DC the day before the Baltimore show && I loved her. She inspires me. She is so free. I want to be able to live that way. Live my life how I want without caring about what the next man or woman thinks. If I’m not hurting anyone then what’s the problem?

    She is amazing live. Her vocals are exactly like what you hear when you listen to an mp3/CD. And her spirit is contagious.

  6. :iagree: Tiffany that i admire her for staying true to herself. There are so many artists who try to fit into a certain mold and it is so tiring. But i really admire her for not jumping on the bandwagon of average.

  7. Ashley,

    Awesome article!

    “Unfortunately, we have been trained and conditioned to live in a box and we’ve been given examples and guidelines of what’s right and wrong. We drive ourselves crazy trying to fit that mold knowing that some of who we really are spiels over and we’re stuck trying to put a spanx on the bodies of our story.”

    So Inspiring…Love Ms. Badu!

  8. Yes, finally someone gets “it”! It’s as if we expect people to go through life unscathed and admonish anyone that doesn’t fit our ideal image or expectations. Aren’t we suppose to experience the joys and pains of life in order to gain wisdom. I can’t imagine going through every obstacle through the prism of the spotlight. I don’t think any of us are in the position to judge (yet we find it so convenient to do so) because we weren’t meant to plan someone else life journey. It would be great if we learned to charter our own destiny and live life to the fullest and cease to exist in that paradoxical box that we’ve constructed for ourselves and others.

  9. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If this heffa was not bald, did not wear an ankh and did not feed her kids organic food, you all will be calling her all kinds of names like she was any other chick. Let Mariah, Janet or Bey have all those babies – they would get talked about like dogs. I am with Loveher … she can’t tell me a thing. She’s total phony. Yet she gets a pass because she peddles a granola image. Spare me!

  10. I think I first became aware of Erykah Badu when she performed at the international jazz festivals that were held where I live. I’m not a super big fan of that music genre, but she was clearly the one artist that got my attention at that time.

  11. Lesson learned. I heart Erykah. I heart her even more becuase although she goes against the grain she stays true to herself. The difference, all those other chics succumb to societies restrictions however E dances to her own tunes. (dont take that out of contect). I think it’s a great place to be. Who are you to judge . . . mind your and I’mma mind mines.
    Pumps right fist, extends closed (first) two fingers, and a head nod Erykah you make all things beautiful again. And for those who dont get it, it’s just that. laughing in the inside.

  12. Beautifully written also. And a great questions for all to ponder

    What if our flaws, shortcomings, dysfunctional attributes were appreciated more than critiqued and criticized? Who or what would we have to hide from then? Only our belief in a higher power and a higher value of ourselves—right?

    Who is perfect? Who can really throw the first stone?

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