Concert Reviews

Welcome to the Human Brain: Erykah Badu at The Granada

Erykah Badu & the Cannabinoids Granada Theater Friday, January 20

First of all, props to Erykah Badu for putting on close to a two-hour show while wearing those boots. Those amazing white boots with a stiletto heel that looked like modified ice skates and haunted my dreams. Just after midnight, following the eight-piece Cannabinoids' extended introduction, she glided on stage, hair pulled up into a point, gold chains wrapped around her shoulder, completely matching up with the futuristic queen image she's inhabited with this new project.

As an artist -- and Badu was very careful to thank the crowd several times for letting them come on stage and share their art, not just music -- she's managed to pull off close to a 15-year career, be a mother (and a doula) and stay in control of her image and creativity. She is her own holy trinity. That Dallas showed up in the form of a sold-out show Friday night reflects just how much love there is for her and what she keeps bringing to the game.

She gave us the oldies but goodies ("Appletree," "On & On," an abbreviated "Tyrone"), the newer (opener "The Healer" from 2008's New Amerykah Part One) and the freshest, as when she and the 'Noids just went straight-up Theremin-jazz freakout towards the end of the set.

It started to sink in after about five songs: The sound she produces with the Cannabinoids is much like art. They are the canvas, and she is the medium. The resulting mix of hip-hop, soul and jazz with an experimental edge feels like exactly where she should be in her career. If she'd stayed the ethereal African queen of her 1997 debut Baduizm, we wouldn't be talking about her right now. But she's smart, and knows she needs to be one step ahead of the game, which is exactly where her work with the Cannabinoids sits. They've helped rework her back catalog while pushing her forward as well. Can't wait for the new material.

"She's pretty glorious," a friend remarked. Yes, that's the word.

And if you missed openers A.Dd+, you'll probably have to wait a bit to see them again, as they're about to tour Texas. The local duo owned the Granada stage, as well as the audience, where Slim Gravy ended up for "Likeamug," trading verses with Paris Pershun with ease.

They've got the complementary flow good hip-hop duos need, as explained on "The Rapper and the Poet," from last year's debut When Pigs Fly. That was the theme last night: Complementary artists that have a new sound in mind.

By the way: Midway through the set, Badu pulled a man onstage who she said was her brother, whom she hadn't seen in 20 years.

Overheard: "Girl, get out the stall! She's playing 'Tyrone'!"

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Audra Schroeder
Contact: Audra Schroeder