Erykah Badu aka Moon Girl aka Analogue Girl aka Manuela Maria Mexico aka Sarah Bellam aka Badoula Oblingada aka SHE ILL... turns 50 today.
Anyone who knows me knows I love Badu. She's one of my very favorite artists of ever. I know her catalog like the back of my hand; I try to see her every single time she's in town... basically she's one of a handful of my go-to artists. Her music is grounded and spiritual and funky and earthy and futuristic and present and relatable and inspiring. She's one of the most gifted songwriters around—there aren't many writers who are able to convey feelings the way she does, and make it relatable and honest without being cliche. Anyway, here is my ode to Badu... a list of the times and the songs that helped shape some of my most memorable life experiences.
"Out My Mind" When the love of my life (or so I thought at the time) told me he felt like Donnell Jones on "Where I Wanna Be." Dude literally said that. Translation: he didn't want me any more, but didn't want to be upfront about it, and I was crushed. That can't get out of the bed, cry whenever I think about him, wonder what my life will look like without him because I knew he was my soulmate kinda crushed. If you've ever experienced that kind of heartbreak, then you feel me. If you haven't then, that's super nice for you- hope you never have to. Anyway, I listened to Erykah Badu's "Out My Mind" on repeat during that period. She wails on the song like her soul is collapsing under the weight of her unrequited want, and it's so relatable, so real, so gorgeous. It's still one of my favorite heartache songs of all time.
"I'm a recovering undercover over lover... and now my common law lover thinks he wants another. And I lie for you, I cry for you/And pop for you, and break for you/And hate for you, and I'll hate you too/If you want me to/I pray for you/Crochet for you/Make it from scratch for you/Leave off the latch for you/Go to the store for you, do it some more for you/Do what you want me to, guess I'm a fool for you..."
But by the end of the song, you know what happens? She climbs out of her despair, finds her sense of self, and gets out of her head/mind.
"Yeah, guess it's time to grab my coat/Evolution's time to grow/Ego tryin to block to do'/Might not have nowhere to go/Now I got a leading role/Introducing Super Dope/Starring in her episode/Hello, new world, out, my mind..."
"Green Eyes"- Another gorgeous heartbreak song that again, goes through a full cycle- from jealousy and denial, to yearning, then anger, then acceptance. This gotta be one of the best songs of the past 50 years, no exaggeration.
"Didn't Cha Know" - This is one of my favorite J. Dilla beats of all-time— top 3 for sure, and that's saying a whole lot because Dilla's discography is damn near unmatched. It's one of those songs that you make you remember where you were the first time you heard it, one of those songs that never, ever gets old, and still sounds just as fresh now as it does when it was released. Again, Badu's soul-searching songwriting is on display, "when I stumble off my path, I know my heart will guide me back..." word.
New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)- I'm just gonna talk about this entire album because I feel like it's the sleeper in her catalog. This album is one of those quietly influential albums that folks will come back and talk about in depth in later years. I hear it in Solange's A Seat At the Table and Kendricks' To Pimp A Butterfly, and all over these newbie soul artists with heavy jazz leanings (Ego Ella May, Mereba, Jamila Woods, etc). It was hopeful and angry, eccentric but precise in the production (handled by Madlib, and Shafiq Husayn and Taz Arnold of Sa-Ra) and the album's "get free" theme, which is best laid out on "Soldier," "Master Teacher," "That Hump," "The Cell," and "Telephone." This is one of those albums that hasn't left my rotation in the 13 years since it dropped.
"Fader," "Back In The Day," & "I Want You"- I remember one time I was going for a job interview in Asheville, NC and winding up semi-lost in the mountains as I tried to make my way back to Atlanta. It was getting dark, I was tired after the interview, and I was in the dang mountains. It was not a good look. I prayed, got back on the correct highway, and played the first three songs on this album (which I consider a mixtape more than an entry into her discography) the entire way home, on repeat.
Mama's Gun- One of the greatest albums of the past half-century, for sure. This album is openly influential— the feisty, world-weary, love torn lyricism and free-black girl countenance Badu possessed on that 2000 record has left its mark on modern soul artists who continue to emulate and build on the sound on that album, which was produced during the genius season of the Soulquarian run.
Okay, since this post is rambling, I'm just gonna leave you with 15 of my favorite Badu songs ever in no order and always changing.
1. "Gone Baby, Don't Be Long"
2. "I Want You"
3. "Kiss Me On My Neck"
4. "Orange Moon"
5. "Green Eyes"
6. "Back In The Day"
7. "Out My Mind"
8. "Master Teacher"
10. "Next Life Time"
11. "Other Side of The Game"
14. "Didn't Cha Know"
Over the past few weeks, I've been asked a couple of times to talk to folks about the benefits of reading as a form of wellness and self-care. When I started doing a bit of research about it, I actually found out that there are scientific studies to support that cozy feeling that you get when you're curled up with a good book... with real statistics and everything!
You know what else makes you literally feel better? Music? See, there is a reason why I include playlists with all of my books!
Anyway, click through the gallery of my nifty graphics to check out the stats. And as always, happy reading!
Tonight I'll be hanging out in the Diamond Mine with Diem's Diamonds! Join me tonight at 9P EST for what should be a cool Zoom chat with some of the coolest readers around! Cheers to the end of 2020!!
Link to join: bit.ly/DiemsDiamonds
The Love Below audiobook + box set is available now! The audiobook is narrated by the super-duper, incredibly talented Jakobi Diem + Wesleigh Siobhan. They narrated The Prototype Series as well, and they were so, SO good.
As for the box set, it’s free in KU! It includes all four previously published Glimpses (Bam+Cassie, Devin+Willow, Travis+Kennedy, and Zay+Jersey) PLUS an additional story focused on The Prototype’s manager — Jay Little.
We first met calm and collected Jay Little back in Finding Kennedy, and he’s been in every book since, so I’m excited for you all to read his short story, which will be exclusive to this box set, and not part of the audio collection.
Jay Little knows what he wants. As the even-tempered manager of The Prototype, and founder of a successful indie label, Jay’s level-headed nature has always played to his advantage. The only person who’s ever been able to knock him off-balance is the label’s publicist, and his longtime friend, Sasha Baptiste. After Jay’s self-control is put to the test one night, Sasha and Jay have to decide what they really mean to each other. Friends? Lovers? Or somewhere in-between?
If you’re not familiar, The Love Below is a collection of short stories focused on the four Prototype couples following the events in their individual full-length books: Happiness In Jersey, Finding Kennedy, Keeping Willow, and Loving Cassie. We get to see what the band has been up to after the release of their debut album, and how they’re navigating the ups and downs of married life. I wrote The Love Below Glimpse Collection for folks who already are familiar with, and dig The Prototype, so if you haven’t read that series, you won’t really understand what’s happening in this collection.
** It’s highly recommended that you read The Prototype Series in its entirety before you check out the Glimpse Series.
So, I wrote a cute + sexy short about one of my favorite couples, Lean and Trevor Carmichael from Blind Expectations. If you're subscribed to my newsletter then you already received a link to download it for free. If not, you can still grab it here on my site! Happy holidays + happy reading!
Interested in downloading a bunch of free books this holiday season? I’m taking part in a pretty cool promo right now. Just hit the download link below and ba-zam- you’ll have a collection of FREE books to choose from some best-selling authors, including a chance to download my book The Night Before for FREE.
Welp, today is election day, and if you've been following the news cycle, or you know, just living in 2020, you're aware of how incredibly important this election is.
At any rate, you can download this FREEBIE to help you through the voting line, or afterward, to take your mind off the election for a few hours.
Wishing you peace + love.
I've been wanting to write something about #indieromance for a while, and I'm glad it finally came together. Honestly, there's a lot more story to tell here- at least 3 more strong angles that could be explored... hopefully, those stories will be explored in depth at some point. Anyway, it was fun working on this, and of course, getting to talk to so many writers whose work I admire.
Check out the story if you're inclined: https://www.shondaland.com/inspire/books/a34047527/indie-romance-is-big-business-why-arent-we-hearing-about-it/
I wanted to drop in and let you know about your chance to win 45 FREE BOOKS by some pretty dope Black authors, including me!. Woot-woot! The contest ends on Sept. 23.
I'm only part-way through Vanity Fair's special issue but this is well done so far.
Ta-Nehisi Coates still refusing to pass around empty words of hope because his pragmatism prevents him from doing so, Killer Mike explaining (again) why he spoke in Atlanta- the complexity of his decision to do that, and how it felt to see that police precinct burn in Minneapolis (we share the same sentiment), Al Sharpton convening with the Floyd family before they buried him, and talking about how a call from Obama on the day of his funeral allowed them to "exhale" if only for a few minutes, and Amy Sherald's breathtaking art. I mean, really. Her work, man. Jacqueline Woodson is featured here too, though I haven't yet read her contribution. Anyway. You can read the issue for free online.
Fitting it drops on the day we're talking about Jacob Blake being shot seven times in the back by police, while his children were psychologically tortured as they watched and pleaded and screamed from the backseat of his car. Reminder: Philando Castile was also shot in front of his girlfriend's 4 year-old-daughter. When you dehumanize a group of people, their children also become expendable.