Erykah Badu, like many Americans, is feeling a heightened sense of urgency due to the presidential election. Thankfully, she found a way to channel that election anxiety: by joining Apple Music’s Ebro Darden on his new show The Message — a playlist and interview series that aims to amplify Black voices and further the dialogue about the unrest and inequalities in the United States and abroad.
For the first episode, which will be released on Election Day (Nov. 3), Badu put together a playlist of songs called “Now Breathe Like It” to inspire raw emotion, including Ramp’s “Come Into Knowledge,” Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Africano,” James Brown’s “King Heroin,” Donny Hathaway’s “Lord Help Me” and Quincy Jones’ “Everything Must Change.”
“These are songs that I truly and really wake up to every day, that I play in the car when I need it,” she tells Darden. “It’s the vibe for me, it’s the freak for me, it’s what uplifts me or brings me to tears or makes me very, very, very sad. The kind of sad that you want to feel when there’s some good music in your spirit. The tears that bring joy. These are real for me. And sharing them with you is a very personal and real thing for me.”
As for the election and the injustices seen over the past few years, Badu says on the show: “We can effectively come together and change those things as we’ve seen over the years and it takes time… because anything that is strong and will outlast all of us takes a long time and a real plan.
“I did this documentary a couple weeks ago… leading up to this day asking people in my city what they believed and were they Republican or Democrat or did they believe the system really worked or does the voting system really work in your opinion,” she added. “And they gave these differing opinions and everybody’s was very intelligent and it was their own belief. I challenged them next to put on some headphones and listen to a song. It was Beastie Boys’ ‘Hold It Now, Hit It.’ No matter what they believed, whether they agreed or not on their beliefs, everyone nodded in agreement to the kick of the snare. Hip-hop is bigger than the government. Anything that we collectively believe together can change many things… the frequency of everything.”
A rollercoaster year like 2020, however, is no match for Badu, who compared the wild moment in time to her own life. “This has been a very long and short and long and short year. 2020 kind of describes how my life is… dramatic pauses and crazy endings and rapid beginnings,” she shared.
Listen to The Message here on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, as part of Darden’s The Ebro Show.