A Love Letter To: Erykah Badu
By Sapodia Lindley
Enchantress. Mystic Mama. Cosmic Wonder. Queen of Unapologetic Artistry. Sensual Prowess Embodiment. Speaker of Truth.
My admiration for you has not been momentary; it’s grown for almost a decade, deepening its roots to solidify a strongly embedded gratitude. Throughout these years, I’ve found myself circling back to you and listening in awe at revelations that, due to my younger naivety, had previously missed. The music waited for me. I experienced the world and it knew I would return, sometimes needing consoling and sometimes needing to be reminded of my power as a woman, as a human.
In my formative years, your music instilled in me knowledge of feminine sensuality. The male gaze is undoubtedly present in creating preconditioned limitations on the expression of female sexuality. To see a female artist who didn't diminish herself, but who knew her worth and stood by it, was important for me to encounter. Songs like Annie Don't Wear No Panties and Tyrone communicated to me that it's possible too and that there's power in taking control of consciously directing your own sexual energy beyond the prison of expectations.
A question I constantly ask myself is am I progressing? And if I’m not, how can I be? I’ve heard you refer to transformation as a ‘downloading period’, a time that allows you to channel emotional information and reflect it back into your art. I admire most your awareness that the reinvention of the self is synonymous with the invocation of creativity and artistry. Seeing your courage energises me to do the same. It reminds me that the human experience is transmutable, and destruction is not finality, but a detour to creation and regeneration.
As I circle back this time, I’ve noticed this energy and mentality through your performances and it’s allowed me to experience your work in a way that moves beyond sexuality and the politics of gender. In recent years I’ve been a bystander to a 360 view of the life cycle, of the destruction (death) and the regeneration (birth). Before this, I was only able to theorise the existence of something greater than ourselves. Now, I feel it. The tangible heaviness that is a concurrent sensation of feeling connected to everything, and being overwhelmed by it. I look to you as an artist and you are able to elevate your audience to a higher place so that they can resonate with this feeling of connection. For me, your success is marked by your ability to do this, to create freedom.
Thank you for focusing on the path of positivity.
You are Warrior. High Priestess. Epic.
Originally published in Love Letters Issue 001.