Erykah Badu, B.o.B., Janelle Monae

In 2008, with the release of her phenomenal album New Amerykah, Pt 1: 4th World War, Dallas' own Erykah Badu proved herself as far more than just the Queen of Neo-Soul, as she'd been dubbed. By adding elements of electronica and hip-hop into her otherwise soulful cauldron, Badu launched herself into a new stratosphere of creativity, coming off as far more otherworldly than her previous, rootsier efforts implied.

But on this year's follow-up to that masterpiece, New Amerykah, Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh, Badu, stylistically at least, appeared to regress somewhat. To her purist fans, it appeared a return to form. But for those excited by the next-level oddball nature of her first New Amerykah release, it seemed everything that the first effort wasn't—balls-less, boring and, well, pretty dry. In actuality, the new disc's offerings fall somewhere between those two plates.

No one, though—not a soul—can say the same of Badu's promotional tactics. Just prior to the March 30 release of her album, Badu released the video pairing for her breezy, thoughtful lead single, "Window Seat." In the video, Badu walks around downtown's notorious Dealey Plaza and strips until she's naked—and, once she is, a gunshot fires and Badu falls to the ground at the exact spot where President John F. Kennedy was shot on November 22, 1963. For her stunt, Badu was fined $500 by the Dallas Police Department for what they called "disorderly conduct." Badu entered a not-guilty plea and refuses to admit any wrongdoing in her actions. She also earned about as much coverage in the national news media as any musical artist has since Michael Jackson's passing.

So much for not being ballsy. Turns out that, these days, Badu's ballsier than ever. Perhaps to further prove it, joining her on this bill are two of hip-hop and soul's most progressive up-and-coming acts, B.o.B. and Janelle Monae.

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Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman