Saturday, February 11, 2017

Erykah Badu, 20 Years Later...

Head bopping high on the black wave of soul that was Baduizm, my first and only Essence cover story was a piece on Erykah. The publicist Wendy Washington, who had been putting in hard work and heavy lifting with Badu for over a year, and I flew to Los Angeles where Erykah was filming the “Next Lifetime” video. Over a two-day period, I was to roll with the subject, observe and, in the process get the interview; that last part wasn’t easy, but it did finally happen.
I was no stranger to Erykah Badu, having seen her perform a few times at those (now) legendary Soul Café shows and interviewing her for Brooklyn magazine, a now defunct pub that was a decade too early. The day we landed in California, Wendy drove and we got lost somewhere near M.L.K.; luckily we had the advance of Chico DeBarge’s post-jail album Long Time No See in the cassette deck to serve as the soundtrack as we cruised those mean streets. By the time we got to the hotel, I was the biggest Chico DeBarge fan on the planet, but that’s another story.
On the first day of the video shoot (Saturday) the entire posse, which included co-stars Pete Rock, Method Man and Andre 3000, as well as the record company crew, rode in a chartered bus to some strange forest area where there was a log cabin in the woods. Of course, making videos is an all day thang, so between watching the scenes being shot over and over, I hung-out Badu’s flye mother (had a lil crush on mama), puffed with Meth and interviewed the co-stars of the dope neo-soul spectacle. It was also on that trip that I first met Zenobia Simmons.


The next day, after a few nervous breakdowns, the interview finally happened. Thank you, Wendy. Writing the story for Essence, a magazine I’d grown-up with thanks to the reading habits of mom dukes Fran Gonzales and being dragged with her to the beauty parlor, was a wonderful experience. My editor Linda Villarosa was one the best I’ve worked with; hard to believe it’s been twenty years since that album came out. And, while I’m giving shout-outs let me not forgot Gordon Chambers and Yvette Russell, who made it all happen

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