President George W. Bush had a lot of screw-ups during his eight-year term, but he did do a couple things right. One of them was proclaiming June as Black Music Month on May 31, 2002. June is here,* and to celebrate Black Music Month, I'll be featuring one of my favorite artists each day, sharing my first or most personal memory of them, and explain what their accomplishments are and why I felt they should make the Black Music Month Top 30 list. There will be some oldies, some newbies and some artists you may not know of yet.
Black Music Month Heat Factor "Why's this artist hot?": Erykah Badu is not worried about fitting in with a crowd. The video for "Window Seat" made that perfectly clear, especially considering I'm sure she was aware of the backlash. But what was fascinating was how it turned more guys on to her (who knew she had an onion?) and I heard men talking about it on Chicago radio and on Twitter for days. "Window Seat" has spent 14 weeks on the Billboard charts so far. But Erykah Badu has always succeeded by daring to be different, from turbans, large bracelets and summer dresses to crocheted and straw hats, '70s style stacks and afros, to a bald head or Kangols. You never really know what she's going to wear next. Setting her own trends while respecting other unique artists, she's worked with some of today's most talented artists, including MC Lyte and D'Angelo, and she's the mother of hip-hop aficionado Andre 3000's (from Outkast) son, Seven.
First Memory, Most Personal Memory of the Artist: One of my aunts bought me Erykah Badu's first CD as soon as it came out. I was almost 16 and still a little too young to really comprehend all of the stuff Erykah Badu was saying, but we both cracked up at the "Afro" song. My aunt and I were not close at all, but this was the first time we'd ever had a girl's day out. "Baduizm" was a temporary way to bond us. Although we haven't been in communication for over a decade, to this day, I can thank her for putting me on to the Fat Belly Bella.
Fast forward three years later to "Mama's Gun." A childhood friend of mine and I were in a mall when a guy walked up to me to get my number. He had a friend with him, and the four of us agreed to go on a double date. Only problem was the guy who asked for my number was a no-show because he thought I was more interested in his friend. My buddy and I weren't in the habit of competing for anybody's attention so we took it as a chance to chill, and neither of us could bail because the second guy didn't tell us until we were already in his car thinking we were going to pick up Mr. Phone Number. Surprise, surprise.
One of the most memorable parts of that night was him shushing us as soon as "Bag Lady (Remix)" came on. What guy is going to shush two attractive and fun girls like us and give someone he doesn't know the floor? None other than Erykah Badu. While we were both fans, that's when we knew Erykah Badu was the baddest. She did try to tell listeners with the song "Clever," didn't she? All I could do was smile, bob my head and dance with my friend. We both had a great time hanging out with him, and I excused myself from the date after a carnival so those two could get a little closer. The next day the guy called both of us and told each of us separately that he was interested. We compared notes, figured out he was trying to string us along, laughed it off and never spoke to him or Mr. Phone Number again. Friends don't fight over boys. They find new boys to date and lose the "baggage."
Accomplishments from the Artist: Erykah Badu is no stranger to the Billboard charts. "Danger" from 2003's "World Wide Underground" spent 11 weeks on the charts. Grammy-award winning "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop)" from 2003's "Brown Sugar" soundtrack stayed on the charts for 27 weeks. "Bag Lady" from 2000's "Mama's Gun" was on the charts for 20 weeks. And of course her first single "On & On" was the number one hit in 1997 when we were first introduced to her music and won her a Grammy. She's also won at least one Soul Train Award, BET Award, The Rock Star Award, American Music Award, Fryderyk International Award and a Billboard Music Award.
* This entry was originally published on Associated Content in June of 2010. It has been republished with permission from Shamontiel. To find out who the other 29 artists were who were selected in 2010, visit this Pinterest board.
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