When Erykah Badu walks onto the American Airlines Center stage on Sunday, it will be a watershed moment for the Dallas icon.
Never has she headlined a room of such scale in her own backyard, but the culmination of her “Unfollow Me” tour with Yasiin Bey will undoubtedly be the sort of enlightening, forward-thinking spectacle for which she has become renowned.
But when it comes to the spotlight, Badu eagerly shares it. Over the course of her 26-year career, she has collaborated with a galaxy of stars in a variety of musical genres, always willing to lend her vivid perspective in service of another’s vision.
To help get you ready for her arena-sized homecoming, here are five of our favorite musical Badu collaborations.
Janelle Monae, “Q.U.E.E.N.”
Taken from Monae’s 2013 sophomore LP, The Electric Lady, this track served as the lead single for the project. Even on an album with guest stars like Prince, Solange, and Miguel, Badu stands out — literally, in the case of the tune’s evocative video, which finds a gold-dipped, poodle-toting Badu uttering the immortal lyric “The booty don’t lie.”
Roy Hargrove, “Poetry”
In 2003, Dallas-bred jazz great Roy Hargrove, leading an eclectic group known as The RH Factor, released his first album for the new project, titled Hard Groove. Who else would lend an artistic hand but his fellow Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts classmate Erykah Badu? Along with Q-Tip, she gives this track a luscious glow.
The Roots, “You Got Me”
Badu gives wings to the chorus of this track from the Roots’ 1999 album Things Fall Apart — “Baby don’t worry/You know that you got me,” she croons. This aching, mid-tempo tune is a gorgeous showcase for Badu near the beginning of her career (Apart was released less than two years after her debut, 1997’s Baduizm).
Roy Ayers, “Everybody Loves the Sunshine”
Celebrated jazz-funk composer, producer and vibraphone player Roy Ayers released his last studio album to date nearly 20 years ago, with 2004’s Mahogany Vibe. If that project turns out to be the now 82-year-old artist’s swan song, at least it produced luminous, groovy pairings like this track, one of three Vibe cuts Badu appeared on.
Busta Rhymes, “One”
Ask most hip-hop fans about Busta Rhymes’ sophomore album, 1997’s When Disaster Strikes …, and they’ll probably wax ecstatic about “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See” or “Dangerous,” an admittedly iconic pair of late-‘90s classics. But Badu also turns up on the record for a fun, breezy back-and-forth with the lightning-tongued MC.
Erykah Badu at American Airlines Center, Dallas. 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $46.45-$391.50.
Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.