Living in ‘AmErykah’
David Goodson | 11/26/2015, midnight
On the initial announcement that “The Hippest Chick,” Erykah Badu was hosting the 2015 Soul Train Awards, hints of skepticism ran on and on. Of course the hints of doubts were from those who were either unacquainted with or had slept through her body of work. Dwellers in the new “AmErykah,” however, rejoiced at the selection. Using her musical components as a barometer, a fusion of hip-hop, jazz and R&B, it’s apparent that her declaration of soul music being the “love of my life” carries weight. Her lyrical content balances abstract poetics, street vernacular and Afrocentricity in a manner that’s passionate and cleva. So with attributes such as these, yeah, it’s only right that she was pegged for the hosting detail.
This appearance isn’t her first foray as a host. In 1998, she, along with Patti LaBelle and the late, great Heavy D, held down the position. Since the reboot of the Soul Train Awards franchise by BET, however, the 2015 edition was the best thus far, in large part because of some Baduisms. Her medley and monologue was the perfect table setter for the rest of the show, and her brainchild called the Soul Train Soul Cypher, featuring Badu, Chrisette Michele, K-Ci, Lalah Hathaway and Eddie Levert, was one of the show’s highlights. Let’s hope that this segment won’t go the way of the Chaka Khan R&B/Soul Female Award and becomes a fixture on the show.
Performances by Tasha Cobbs, Erica Campbell, Jeremih, Tyrese and R. Kelly were impressive, but for the most part it, was the electricity and execution of the performances for and by the special award winners Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Jill Scott that elevated the show. Scott was presented with the newly revived Lady of Soul Award, and a tribute video from the industry’s top executives and artists, such as Whoopi Goldberg, Usher and Nikki Giovanni, spoke to Scott’s energy, creativity, exceptional talent and inspiration. Just as dope was her genuine appreciation of the accolades.
Leading the pack in nominations were The Weekend and Bruno Mars, each receiving five nominations. Tyrese, Beyonce, Chris Brown and Jidenna were barely behind them with each garnering four nods. At the conclusion of the show, Badu took to twitter with, “I had a WONDER FULL experience tonight at The Soul Train taping. Congrats to my sis, the talented and voluptuous Jill Scott and the brilliant and handsome Kenneth ‘Baby Face’ Edmonds on your achievements and special awards tonight. Well deserved. Thank you to Deborah Lee and Steve Hill and my BET/ CENTRIC FAM!”
Look for the Soul Train Awards 2015 to air on Centric and BET Sunday, Nov. 29, from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. E.T.
Badu’s new mixtape, “But U Caint Use My Phone,” from which she dropped her version of Drake’s smash “Hotline Bling” and the newly released “Phone Down,” will drop on Thanksgiving Day. About the mixtape having each song related to phones, Badu said to the Fader magazine, “After I heard that song, it inspired me. I was feeling it really, and I started making the songs. No particular reason though.”
Although a tour hasn’t been planned as yet, Badu will have a concert appearance at the King Theatre (1027 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY) Wednesday Dec. 2, 2015. Check periodically at Ticketmaster.com or the King Theatre box office to see if additional seats are released for the sold-out performance.
Over and out. Holla next week. Until then, enjoy the nightlife.