Music News

Erykah Badu

Evidently, a healthy single and a few well-placed guest turns are enough to spark a full tour these days. Erykah Badu, whose late 2000 album Mama's Gun is a brilliant old-school soul turn but by now is very, very outdated, is coming to Club Rio in Tempe, ostensibly on the strength of "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)," her recent hit single from the soundtrack to the movie Brown Sugar. The song is another in a long line of increasingly formulaic mutations by the merry band of black-music rebels known as the Soulquarians (the Roots, D'Angelo, Jill Scott, Common, Musiq, many others). It takes a laid-back, textured groove, adds an authoritative melody by the sultry Badu known for changing hairdos and exotic head wraps and slaps on a token rap about how these guys are smarter and more in tune with their emotions than the other homeboys on the radio. In this case, the theme arrives from a meditation on the giants of hip-hop's old school, and the rap comes from Badu's significant other these days, Common, who in turn steals Badu's lovely voice for several songs on his rambling new disc Electric Circus. You know what they say the family that prattles together . . .

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Christopher O'Connor