Patta In Conversation with Erykah Badu
Interview by Julie Adenuga | Photography by Shaniqwa Jarvis | Video by Raj Debah
Patta and Converse are putting the spotlight on a group of promising musicians who are redefining the neo-soul genre and achieving success through their passion and hard work in pursuit of their dreams.
In today's cultural landscape, where commercialism and quick hits dominate, these artists stand out for their organic approach to everything they do. They approach their craft with intention and focus, and their output reflects that dedication. We believe these artists are a rare find and deserve to have their work appreciated.
To bring attention to these talented individuals, we've partnered with the renowned Ms. Erykah Badu, who has created a nurturing environment for the next generation of creatives who approach things with a fresh perspective. Additionally, we've enlisted the help of legendary broadcaster and presenter Julie Adenuga to facilitate this conversation.
Julie: Hello my love, how are you?
Erykah: I’m good, how are you?
Julie: Yeah I'm really well. Excited to talk to you about your incredible legacy in music. In the Patta & Converse campaign, you said “Luck is being in alignment with nature, so you can be where your blessings are”. Do you feel like it’s possible to block your luck?
Erykah: Yeah, I don’t think people intentionally block their luck. I think that when we are not in alignment, we just kind of miss the portal opening for a certain amount of blessings to flow through. Because everyone is afforded the opportunity of having lots of blessings. But when they start flowing, and you’re not in alignment to attract them… you assed out.
Julie: What does being in alignment look like for you?
Erykah: For me being in alignment is making sure that I am discriminating between which thoughts evolve me and which thoughts take away from me. If I'm starting at the thought point then it’ll become words and actions. It’s having self-awareness and being considerate of the other people who are in this school called Earth too.
Julie: There aren’t many families that can say they work together in the way that yours do. In a lifestyle that I would say it’s probably not the most orthodox, what allows you guys to live in this way?
Erykah: It was instilled in us by the ancestors, by my grandmother and her mother and her mother. We just understand keeping up the tradition of having family conversations and family birthdays - family comes first. I never moved from Dallas, ever. I stayed here and my grandmothers, they both passed away at 93 in 2021. They taught us that this is the way. These are the people you can count on, they may not always be the people that you are the most fond of, but we have a bond and we purposely have to keep that relationship up.
Julie: When you look at young creatives now, do you see these same attitudes in them?
Erykah: I know it's difficult as an individual who is the person in the family who is the artist or the franchise. As much as we’ve been taught by our families and ancestors, that single individual still has not been taught to be a boss or a leader because it's the talent that's driving them. So I think that I would tell the younger artists, it’s not a race. You'll learn how to be comfortable in your success and you’ll also learn to share that with others because that's something we have to go through. A lot of times we are trying to establish something for our own selves, for our own energy, depending on how depleted we were when we became the artist and over time it will show its hand & show what is valuable to you. Learn, forgive. Forgive yourself. Celebrate yourself. Celebrate your winnings. Pay attention to those who don't. You know, that awareness is what really helps us.
Julie: As someone who is renowned for their live performances, I’ve always wondered how you felt about hosting concerts from your home and building your merch store: Badu World Market - when the world went into lockdown.
Erykah: It was what was required of me. I'm many things and the things that are required of me are sometimes very apparent and when they are, I focus on it.
Julie: Was anything a burden to you? Was there any resistance to any of it? There are new artists coming through today who I'm sure don't want to have to master tech & all the other things that live outside of their musical creativity.
Erykah: It was a burden, there was a burn, like sitting in class learning. I can't really focus for a long time on something and it was kinda like ‘oh God it’s wednesday’ you know?. I took a course to learn a little bit more about the world of digi-tech and paywalls and live streaming companies and costs. I had to learn all those things in order to teach my team, I didn't hire a tech team - I used my own team and I taught them what I knew and we built a live streaming company together. There's no burdens from any outside things because I already know everybody's agenda. My passion and creativity is one thing but if it doesn't make money for my business partners it's not interesting, so I have to make sure that all those things are considered. They’re not burdens, it’s just being extra creative and thinking about creating win-win situations for the companies that I chose to do business with.
Julie: What do you turn to when you don’t feel motivated?
Erykah: It should never be that, as long as you have a mind, you shouldn't have a lack of inspiration. You might have a block but it's really a downloading period. It’s a period where you're not supposed to be inspired, so to say, or be pushing out information, or pushing out art. You're supposed to be living, so that you'll have something to talk about or a conversation to start - with your art. We have to allow that time. It’s difficult when you work in an industry where there is a time clock, a test to your art but as long as you're aware that it's not anything that you are doing wrong, it's not a fault, you haven't lost anything, you are actually gaining more things, and you're able to be still and listen for that.
Julie: The song ‘4 leaf clover’ came from your debut album ‘Baduizm’ around the time you had your first child
Erykah: Baduizm came out February 11th, I got pregnant in March and I had my baby November 18th - the same day my second album came out.
Julie: Crazy! I'm still yet to take a journey of motherhood, but it's something that every single Mother has told me changes them dramatically. Was it hard to relate to Baduizm after going through such a huge change so soon after it’s release?
Erykah: Everything was happening in real time, there was nothing that really stood out that was hard, and I don't recall changing too much within that 365 day period, I was just kinda… my mind was focused.
Julie: In a world where things are changing so rapidly, I wondered if there was any advice you’d be able to give to new artists who spend their whole lives trying to put together their first album and then the minute it comes out there’s a demand for them to do something new. How do you live in the music without being forced to move on in an industry that has such rapid turnover expectations?
Erykah: I don't really pay attention to the demands of the industry because I didn't come into the industry with that in mind - that I'm gonna be some successful super star. I am an artist and this is the way I survive and I have to do this music, I have to say these things I'm saying so I just try to find creative ways that fit into the demand.
Julie: The last question I wanted to ask you is less about words of warning for new artists but rather what would you tell them to look forward to?
Erykah: There's so many good things. I think that, if you have an understanding that the universe doesn't give you what you want, it gives you what you are. Call it a relationship - you and the universe can create success.
Julie: Wow! I’m gonna write that on my bedroom wall! Thanks so much for your time, it's been such a pleasure to speak to you.