Something supernatural happens to our society when Erykah Badu releases a new album. There seems to be an increased level of consciousness and general human sex appeal, it’s the magic of Budizm. If I subscribed to any religion it would be to the likes of the sultry, soulful and powerful queen of Neo-Soul. Every fan of Badu seems to also put her on this rather outrageous pedestal and I am one of them. It is indefinable and unavoidable so it’s just best to succumb to the allure and be a bleeding and loyal fan. That stated, it is difficult to conduct an objective review on her latest album but dammit I will try.
The album, title “But you Caint Use My Phone” alludes to something sillier than her previous work such as “Badizum” or “New Amerykah”, however that certainly isn’t the case with this refined album. While making this record Badu travelled extensively including a trip to West Africa for both spiritual and practical music research influences. The album has been brewing for two years and involves collaborations with Flying Lotus, Drake and the father of her child Andre 3000. The album itself certainly considers a common telephone theme. This is consistent with other massive hits of 2015 such as Drake’s Hotline Bling and Adele’s Hello. Is there some kind of intrinsic connection between this music or do these three artists just reflect our phone-obsessed society like prisms? Unlike Drake and Adele Badu is providing an important perspective that we are far too reliant on these millennial devices but she does so in a delightfully playful fashion. Badu recorded the album in her hometown of Dallas, Texas in an intimate recording studio she often calls home. A fraction of Badu’s intention for this album is to coin a new genre she likes to call ‘Trap and B’. Additionally and more importantly, Badu intended to provide a sense of ‘sympathetic vibration’ a poetic term she has also coined to aptly describe the harmony of music’s natural vibration and the frequency of sounds waves. To punctuate this effect, the album contains Tibetan singing bowls and tuning forks to achieve musical precision, this is a serious album. At age 44 Badu has made her most hip and young sounding body of work to date. Each song is a banger that comes marinated in intelligence and the soulful molasses of her capable voice. “But You Caint Use My Phone” is genre crossing but certainly more hip hop than her previous work and even involves terms she rarely uses such as “bitch and hoe” which is nothing for Hip Hop but something for Badu. This new cavalier vocabulary may be an extension of third wave feminism given the progression and evolution of music since her previous work and the changing view of women and rap lyrics in our contemporary society.Alternatively, this could be a celebration of freedom of speech or it could mean something entirely different, or simply nothing at all. The album’s most paramount strength is the consistent message about the importance of putting your damn phone down. This is an example of Badu’s ongoing and ever present wisdom that always comes in an incredibly appealing package and contributes to her other worldly ways. Speaking of those ways, Badu’s ultimate goal for this album was to create “ a sound that brings peace and tranquilly to the listener”. This certainly happens in the most fun and sexy way imaginable, and that’s why Badu is the reigning queen. But You Caint Use My phone is officially released December 4th, and it will keep you warm all winter.