Amidst a Q&A session Saturday (March 19) at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival in Austin, Texas, Erykah Badu took time to discuss the label she is starting and her commitment to communit
Amidst a Q&A session Saturday (March 19) at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival in Austin, Texas, Erykah Badu took time to discuss the label she is starting and her commitment to community development and to offer advice to aspiring artists.
During the conversation with journalist Robert Wilonsky, Badu defended her commitment to family and community before her music career, and admitted that she is "still trying to find her place in the music business."
Badu said she plans to make her Control FreaQ Records label a successful and profitable home for artists, with fair contracts that will return ownership of the music to the artists after a period of time. She also plans to use her celebrity to get those on the label noticed. "I want all my artists to be successful. It will happen," she said. "They can be as famous or as underground as they want to be."
Control FreaQ's first signing is New Orleans based MC/lyricist Jay Electronica, who Badu said "is the reason why I wanted to do the label... He's an incredible poet, an incredible artist [and] a peculiarly intellectual MC." Both artists performed later that night at the Austin Music Hall.
As for her own musical career, Badu says it still comes second to being a mother and working in the community. "Life is more important than selling units for the label," she said.
A Texas native, Badu works in Dallas through her nonprofit group B.L.I.N.D. (Beautiful Love Incorporated Non Profit Development). Though she has mostly kept a low profile through years of various projects, she says she is being more open about her substantial involvement lately because publicity helps the group obtain grants and other necessary funding.
But she is planning a long awaited fourth studio album, which would be the follow-up to the 2003 EP "Worldwide Underground" (Motown). Badu plans to record the set in her home studio, where "it feels comfortable and it's at my own pace" and will deliver it to Motown/Universal "when it's done."
As for the neo-soul tag that's been applied to her since her 1997 debut, "Baduizm," Badu told an artist in the audience not to fret about labels. "It don't make a difference because in this industry you have to be labeled to be marketed," she said.
But she also cautioned that no matter what labels are applied, artists should listen to themselves and no one else when it comes to their music. "There ain't no rules," she said. "There really is no rule to art." Later, recalling her grandmother's influence, she implored of all of the artists in attendance, "Just don't write something, write about something."
Before fans hear any new music from Badu, she'll be seen in the upcoming film "House of D," which also stars Robin Williams and Tea Leoni and is the feature writing/directing debut for actor David Duchovny ("The X Files").
She plays a prison inmate who becomes one of the unlikely friends of a young boy, as does Williams' character, "a retarded Greek janitor," according to Badu. The Lion's Gate Films feature will premiere April 15 in Dallas and open in select U.S. theaters the same day.