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Top 20 Best Songs Performed by Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu's thoughtful and compelling songs prove why the performer has been called the first lady of neo-soul.

List of Erykah Badu's best songs: Video, audio, description

In this selection we have collected 20 the best songs performed by Erykah Badu, and at different points in time, from her formative years as an outspoken neo-soul queen to her later politically charged songs at the forefront of modern R&B. Erykah Badu's multicolored and sometimes controversial career has always been fascinating. Combining jazz, soul, funk and hip-hop in equal measure, we've compiled 20 of Erykah Badu's best songs, revealing the depth of her talent.

20: Hello

The highlight of Badu's 2015 mixtape "But You Caint Use My Phone" was a brilliant reworking of the Todd Rundgren/Isley Brothers hit, created in collaboration with André 3000. The duo was particularly popular in the '90s. The track ends with their voices singing in perfect harmony, which is Certificate the strength of their family ties.

19: Other Side Of The Game

The third single from her debut album, "Baduizm," tells the story of a woman who faces the moral dilemmas of supporting a romantic partner involved in criminal activity. Its subtle, unhurried blend of jazz and R&B, movable with the deepest bass groove, epitomized the childlike sound that made "Baduizm" one of R&B's breakout hits of the '90s.

18: Window Seat

The sensual mid-tempo groomer, lead single "New Amerykah Part Two (Return Of The Ankh)" became famous for Spectacular video clip. In the clip, Badu walks down Dealey Plaza in Dallas, slowly removing her clothes before being shot by an unseen sniper, an allusion to President Kennedy's assassination at the same location.

17: Telephone

Written the day after Erica learned of J. Dilla's passing, "Telephone" is a heartfelt and Touching a tribute to her former collaborator, who tragically died young of a rare blood disease. The song was inspired by a conversation she had with the producer's mother.

16: Back In The Day

Released in 2003, the track, as the intended part of the "Worldwide Underground" record, which was larger than most artists' full-length albums, features impeccably executed analog grooves that were showcased by the deep bass lines, dreamy keyboards and exquisitely funky guitars of this single, a nostalgic ode to youth.

15: Time's A Wastin'

The highlight of her second album, "Mama's Gun," the single "Time's A Wastin'" combines features quirky bass lines with keyboard inserts, highlighting Bud's cautionary tale to a young black man. The track ends with a delightful allusion to Johnny Hammond's rarified song "Can't We Smile.

14: Soldier

In the first part of the record "New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)," you can see that Badu strongly deviated from her previous work, both stylistically and thematically. Her contemporary hip-hop sound, presented here in the form of an ethereal flute sample complemented by sharp minimalist beats from producer Carrim Riggins, informed the singer's incisive reflections on racial inequality and black oppression.

13: Fall In Love (Your Funeral)

Another masterpiece by Carrim Riggins, "Fall In Love" epitomizes warm rhythms that Badu uses on his next album "New Amerykah Part One", "Return Of The Ankh". A juicy blend of R&B and hip-hop rhythms.

12: Tyrone (live version)

Inspired by huge the success of her debut album, Badu released a live album, a bold move for those just starting out in their careers. Near the end of her set, released as "Live" in 1997, she tests the newly written "Tyrone," a caustic response to a scrappy partner.

11: Me

Many of Erykah Badu's best tracks are a kind of practical tips on how to live at a good pace. Few things are more creative than this work by Sa-Ra Creative Partners producer Shafiq Hussain. Amid gorgeous shuffling beats, tense bass lines and delicate arrangements, Erika delivers a powerful ode to self-love.

10: Didn't Cha Know

The second single from "Mama's Gun" was created after J Dilla's momentous visit to Detroit in 1998. It based on a sample from the 1977 song "Dreamflower," by the jazz-funk ensemble Tarika Blue, a track she discovered while browsing through the producer's giant collection.

9: Gone Baby, Don't Be Long

The third part of a trilogy of songs, told from the perspective of a woman in love with a misguided con man, Badu followed for "Otherside Of The Game" and "Danger" from Worldwide Underground, with a rather sensual denouement. Another brilliant example of her penchant for long grooves. The track gets its soulful reggae sound from a track on the 1979 Wings album, "Arrow Through Me."

8: On & On

Erykah Badu's debut single had a tremendous influence on the singer's development. It charted on both sides of the Atlantic, earned her a Grammy, brought the nascent neo-soul movement to a wider audience, and made the singer one of music's brightest new stars. His playful fusion of classic jazz and hip-hop still sounds fresh.

7: AD 2000

The track is dedicated to Tragic the death of Amadou Diallo, who was shot and killed by NYPD officers in 1999. Created by a stunningly beautiful instrumental arranged by in the style of Stevie Wonder, and with lyrics and vocals by soul legend Betty Wright, this is the most heartfelt track in Badu's oeuvre. Once again, the track has political overtones and acts as a protest.

6: Master Teacher Medley

Badu's duet with Georgia Ann Muldrow, allowed create one of the forward tracks on the record, "New Amerykah Part One," had a lasting lyrical impact, introducing the concept of Stay Woke, a call to the black diaspora to remember their origins, and an appeal to the world that they are Forcibly displaced persons.

5: Next Lifetime

This sensual ballad, is one of the the best neo-soul singles that comes from a woman with conflicting romantic thoughts. Already attached, but with feelings for someone else, it's a bittersweet story with a poetic metaphysical bent:

Well I guess I'll see you next lifetime/Maybe we'll be butterflies.

Which translated:

Well, I guess I'll see you in the next life / Maybe we'll become butterflies.

4: Honey

As is typical for playful and peculiar Badu, effectively hiding one of his most sparkling and accessible dancefloor bombs. Appearing at the end of the first part of "New Amerykah," the single "Honey" is not mentioned on the list, "Honey" begins with a reworked RAMP song "The American Promise" and then turns into a life-affirming, heavy P-funk composition.

3: I Want You

The epic ten-minute song has become an integral part of the "Worldwide Underground" record - it Sensual Marvin Gaye-style ode to lust and longing. James Poyser's keyboard rhythms masterfully mimic the rapid heartbeat of lovers.

2: Green Eyes

Badu's Breakup with André 3000 Inspired by artist to create the ten-minute track that completes her album, "Mama's Gun." Taking the form of a three-part suite, "Green Eyes" moves from playful ragtime to smoky jazz and warm soul with brass instruments to reflect the many moods of a crumbling relationship. Badu performed by one of his most stirring and revealing songs.

1: The Healer

Created by producer Madlib's brilliantly crafted sampling of Kono Samuarai of The Yamasuki Singers, "The Healer" is an ode bringing together the power of hip-hop. Badu's lyrics were explained to The New York Post:

There are so many ways to worship, no matter what religion you belong to. And for me hip-hop is felt in all religions - it has a healing power. I was recently in Palestine, Jerusalem, Africa... and everyone is listening to hip-hop. There's something about that snare drum sound that people find meaning in.

 

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