Baduizm, Erykah Badu’s debut album, became 20 on February 11 — and the musician posted a video in honor of the anniversary on Facebook. “I guess you just gotta take that first leap…huh? One night I did,” Badu writes, in a caption for the video of an open mic performance at Fort Greene’s Brooklyn Moon Cafe, from “1995AD.”
The video sees her performing the Baduzim single “On & On” presumably for the first time. The sensual, boldly understated single would ultimately go on to top Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, to earn her Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the Grammys, to help popularize the phenomenon dubbed “neo-soul” by D’Angelo manager/Baduizm exec. producer Kedar Massenburg (who says his term now dates the otherwise timeless album), and of course to preface an one of the 90s’-and-onwards’ most influential musical careers.
Billboard recently spoke with 11 people involved in the making of and/or discourse surrounding Baduzim — including Badu. She told the publication, with 20 years’ of reflection, that the one thing she would have done different, actually, was “On & On.” She said:
Originally, we came with a really raw track. But I made one compromise by letting Kedar hook me up with a producer who wanted to make it into more of a “song” — it took the rawness out of it. I like the raw version that nobody has ever heard a lot better. I wasn’t mad at the newer version, it just took the street out of it a little bit.
Given this light critique, it makes sense that she’d be sharing the much-rawer open mic version that was her “first leap.”