While listening to the latest release by Erykah Badu, so many thoughts coursed through my brain. But through all of these thoughts, I caught myself repeating under my breath, “YAS KWEEN”. It was second nature to refer to Badu as a queen, and the 11 track mixtape reinforces her well deserved title. I already knew of the pure regality of the R&B empress, but her latest release But U Caint Use My Phone fortifies her royalty.
- She can do anything. Often referred to as the Queen of Neo Soul but over the course of her past five releases, Badu’s music alludes to soul, disco, and even folk. But U Caint Use My Phone genre references range from to modern hip hop to even french nu-disco styles that can be heard on “Mr. Telephone Man”.
- Short but Sweet. But U Caint Use My Phone runs only 37 minutes in it’s entirety but despite it’s brevity, the mixtape isn’t missing a thing. Some of the tracks run from only 35 seconds to a minute and half and tease the hell out of us. The thirty five second interlude, “Hi” is a prime example.
- Andre 3000 hasn’t gone anywhere. To the non-music enthusiast, Andre 3000 is known as one half of Outkast. However, his legend stretches back to the early days of hip-hop. Badu reminds us why he is held so high in the industry on the soulful cover of The Isley Brother’s “Hello”. Erykah starts the track by teasing us with some simple harmonies, and out of nowhere Andre 3000 lays down his spoken word styled truth.
- She isn’t going anywhere. It’s not that anyone doubted her at all, but it has been almost 20 years since she exploded on to the scene with her legendary debut album Baduizm 1997. After recently hosting the Soul Train Awards and currently touring the country, the queen shows no signs of stopping.
- She knows talent. Someone like Badu could get anyone that she wants to drop everything they are doing to work with her. However she carefully selected some homegrown talent to feature on her mixtape. The mixtape is mainly produced by the Dallas based Zack Witness, and features Texas native Aubrey, whose flow is reminiscent of Drake but just absolutely slays it. When the internet caught sight of “U Use to Call Me”, Badu quickly shut down any rumours that Drake was on the mixtape. Check it out for yourself.
- She’s seen some shit. People seem to forget that Badu’s career matured in a monumental era of hip hop. She was surrounded by arguably some of the best artists that hip hop will ever see. On “Mr. Telephone Man”, Badu said her inspiration came for the song in reminiscing on the loss of J Dilla with Ol’ Dirty Bastard. The song shouts out to conversations that the two had on the phone, Badu loved the story and included it. Let’s back it up. ODB and J Dilla. That right there is just enough to show you that she doesn’t fuck around with amateurs.
- She can cover the shit out of anything. Badu hyped up the release of the mixtape with her surprise cover of Drake’s chart topper, “Hotline Bling” a few months back. “Cel U Lar Device” is a key moment early on in the mixtape. As you’re bouncing along for almost seven minutes, you almost forget that this is originally Drake’s but the queen just takes authority and claims it as her own.