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An Ode to Erykah Badu

Heralded as the First Lady of Neo-Soul, a title and genre the artist questions, there is no questioning Erykah Badu‘s talent. Her sultry, raspy vocals and philosophical lyrics have earned Badu much critical love across multiple genres. In honor of Badu’s 40th birthday, we’ve complied the best music videos from the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter’s repertoire. From the controversial to the seductive, politically provocative to the downright poetic, here is an ode to Ms. Badu.

‘On & on’

In Badu’s first single from her 1997 debut album, ‘Baduizm,’ Badu is depicted as a maid in an African-American household in the video, which is loosely based on the film adaptation of ‘The Color Purple’. The song earned Badu the Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

‘Other Side of the Game’

Badu and then-boyfriend Andre 3000 play house in a depiction of bohemian domestic life. At 3:58, Andre holds his head to Badu’s baby bump and listens to the heartbeat of their bun in the oven. Badu and Benjamin have a son together in real life.

‘You Got Me’
The Roots Feat. Erykah Badu

The Roots solicited Badu’s vocals for the hook — originally by Jill Scott, who also wrote the song, and later rerecorded by the higher-profile Badu at the insistence of MCA Records — and the team won the Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

‘Bag Lady’

Badu sampled Dr.Dre‘s ‘Xxplosive’ for the lead single from her 2000 album, ‘Mama’s Gun.’ This cautionary tale about emotional baggage is heavy on the satire, which the singer/songwriter uses to deliver her philosophical message.

‘Didn’t Cha Know’

Badu’s signature head wrap reaches crazy new heights in this video in which the singer wanders the desert until she reaches an oasis. The song sampled from Tarika Blue’s ‘Dreamflower’ without prior permission and caused Badu some legal troubles, which she settled out of court.

‘Love ofMy Life (An Ode to Hip-hop)’
Feat. Common

Another video with another then-rapper-boyfriend, the song and video personify hip-hop in this 2002 collab that won the duo the Grammy for Best R&B Song. Produced by Raphael Saadiq, the hit was also featured on the soundtrack for the film ‘Brown Sugar.’

‘Honey’

First single off Badu’s fourth studio album, ‘New Amerykah Part One (Fourth World War)’, Badu pays homage to the greats (Diana Ross, the Beatles and Earth, Wind & Fire, to name a few) as she graces the covers of vinyl albums in a record store. Badu parodies ex-boyfriend Andre 3000′s ‘Hey Ya!’ video at 2:37.

‘Jump in the Air (Stay There)’
feat. Lil Wayne, Bilal

This Internet-only promotional single pairs kaleidoscope visual effects with an interpolation of P-Funk All-Stars’ ‘Hydraulic Pump.’ Add a little Bilal and a verse from Weezy, and you’ve got one trippy hit track.

‘Window Seat’

As the first single from her fifth and latest studio album, ‘New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh),’ ‘Window Seat’ brought Badu legal woes and backlash for her public nudity in the guerrilla-style video, shot in one take and without prior permission to film. Badu references the assassination of JFK and puts out a call to action against groupthink in her most controversial work to date.

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