Something tells us that in the not-too-distant future we'll look back on 2015 as a vintage year for Erykah Badu. Dallas' Queen of Neo-Soul has been riding a hot streak this year with some pretty memorable public appearances: ushering in the new era at The Bomb Factory, performing an epic tribute to hip hop with the Roots and receiving a prestigious jazz award at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. She even found the time to take a (playful) dig at Black Eyed Peas.
Hardly a week goes by that we don't hear something from her, and the news this week is particularly inspired. Badu, prompted by the overwhelmingly bad news that seems to be the norm in recent months (mass shootings, police brutality and even murders and cover-ups by the police — all almost exclusively crimes against African Americans, mind you) decided to channel all that negative energy into something productive. So she made a mix.
And boy, what a mix. Badu dug deep for an 80-minute mix called "Feel Better, World!" that uses a selection of tracks by Donny Hathaway, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder and a host of others (including Badu herself) to paint some kind of image of hope. It starts dark and dissonant, clattering through Gary Bartz's avant jazz and James Brown's bleak "King Heroin" before making its way towards some kind of light at the end of the tunnel, where Hathaway suggests that "some day we'll all be free."
Of course, Badu put it pretty succinctly herself when she posted the mix to Mixcloud over the weekend: "ALL OVER THE GLOBE...KEEP WALKING TALL BROTHERS AND SISTERS. SOMEDAY WE WILL ALL BE FREE. THE WORLD IS IN NEED OF HEALING.... I CAREFULLY AND LOVINGLY SELECTED HIGH FREQUENCY TONES FOR THE SOUL.... PLEASE LISTEN FROM TOP TO BOTTOM.
LOVE, ms. badu."
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Either way, this mix couldn't have come at a better time. Here's the full track list.
1. The Blessing Song — Gary Bartz
2. Come in to Knowledge — Ramp
3. Africano — Earth Wind & Fire
4. My People… Hold On — Eddie Kendricks
5. King Heroin — James Brown
6. Lord Help Me — Donny Hathaway
7. Blessed — The Emotions
8. See the Light — Earth Wind & Fire
9. When There is No Sun — Sun Ra
10. Visions (Inner Visions Live) — Stevie Wonder
11. Sack Full of Dreams — Donny Hathaway
12. The Blessing — Michael W. Smith
13. World Keeps Turning — Erykah Badu
14. Third Eye — Roy Ayers
15. Watching Over — The Emotions
16. Brazilian Rhyme — Earth Wind & Fire
17. Love’s in Need of Love — Stevie Wonder
18. Some Day We’ll All Be Free — Donny