Erykah Badu is one of the queens of R&B.
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Badu has always had a voice of gold, but like so many artists before, and after her, she had to grind to get the attention of record executives that could possibly give her that golden moment in the spotlight.
That moment came in 1994 when she wowed the crowd after opening for D’Angelo in her hometown. Among the crowd was Kedar Entertainment executive Kedar Massenburg, who inked her to a record deal in 1995. She would enter the studio in 1996 to record her first LP, which would also become one of her classics.
That classic was Baduizm, which was released on Feb. 11, 1997, to rave reviews. She channeled all of her energy into the record, so much so that she left college to focus on a music career that had yet to blossom.
But after everyone got a taste of Baduizm, her career was blossoming by leaps and bounds.
Baduizm represents the long journey Badu traveled to get to that point. Even more incredible was that she accomplished it in her own way and in her own style, which is what makes her debut so iconic.
Take any track off of this LP, from the jazz-influenced “On & On” to the smooth slow burner of “Appletree,” her sound was enticing and intoxicating. There are no booming beats, no bombast, just the woman and the music, which was more than enough to get R&B listeners to eat up her debut.
And they feasted.
Baduizm would go on to top the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and go all the way to No. 20 on the Billboard 200. The LP would eventually be certified 3x Platinum and the would be nominated for four Grammy Awards, with Badu taking home the awards for Best R&B Album and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
Badu was no one-hit-wonder, as, after Baduizm, the Dallas R&B crooner would go on to land some of the most iconic hits in R&B such as 1999’s “Southern Girl,” 2000’s “Bag Lady,” and the cult classic “Tyrone.”
Best of all, she has and will continue to do it in her own way.