Erykah Badu isn’t known to play small when it comes to her birthday parties. “This year I’m putting more energy into it because I have the time, and it’s a very special year, and I want to treat it that way,” she tells the Observer. “I have time to appropriately give my friends and producers and collaborators love. I hadn’t had a chance to do that like I want to.”
For last year’s birthday bash at the Bomb Factory, the queen of neo-soul sold out the 4,000-capacity venue, brought in Dave Chapelle to host, and Andre 3000 popped in for a surprise appearance. With that in mind, it’s hard to imagine what the queen has up her sleeve for her 46th birthday bash, this Sunday, Feb. 26, taking place on her actual birthday.
“Erykah always does something unique in her shows, and she just curates an amazing night,” says Gavin Mulloy, creative director of the Bomb Factory.
On Thursday before the event, Badu was in full-swing, joking that she’s getting dressed now and will sleep in her party clothes. When asked what she’s planning to wear, she responds, “I was thinking about my outfit from the video 'Window Seat.'”
In that video she strips naked as she walks through the JFK memorial.
“[This year] is like three or four gifts in one. I get to see all my favorite artists perform, it’s my birthday, and it’s the 20th anniversary of Baduizm,” Badu says. “It’s a lot happening, and I’m excited.”
In honor of the anniversary of her first album’s release, Badu named the event “Sauceizm” and went all out, deciding to produce the event herself with her business partner, Cold Cris, also a music legend. “Cold Cris and I are really putting our foot in it and trying to make it a really special event. Last year I wasn’t as hands-on. I was very busy doing a lot of things,” she says. “My company Badu World produced it. They wanted to surprise me. I told them I wanted to have a birthday party in Dallas, and we went with our favorite venue.”
This year’s hands-on approach goes as far as picking the more than 12 musical acts that she’ll share the stage with and choosing artist Jackie Musial to design the T-shirt that will be on sale.
The bill promises a strong lineup of guest performers, many of whom were announced Thursday: Talib Kweli, Badu’s mixtape producer Zach Witness and local favorites, such as The Outfit, Sam Lao, DJ Sober, Cure for Paranoia and Leon Bridges, among others.
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Badu’s house band and posse, the Cannabinoids, and Pete Rock, a producer who has been very influential in the realm of East Coast hip-hop, will also be performing with the queen. And, of course, she has some surprise guests up her sleeve that won’t be announced until, well, they walk on stage.
A week after the concert, on March 3, Badu World Media is also launching an apparel brand online that she and Cold Cris have been working on for years. It will feature a series of T-shirts by Musial, and a host of other merchandise and designs created by Badu herself and in collaboration with other artists.
Last year’s birthday party ended with handfuls of people on stage for an all-out singalong, as Chapelle performed a rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep.” Badu says her favorite part of last year was jamming with Chapelle after the show. “In the tradition of shows that I do, we usually do some sort of jam session when everybody clowns and has fun, and we did that last year and it was good times.”
Erykah Badu Presents: Sauceizm, 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, the Bomb Factory, 2713 Canton St. Tickets are $43 at thebombfactory.com.