When Verzuz announced the Erykah Badu and Jill Scott matchup being a fan of both, I knew this would be epic. I began texting the notification to friends with the caption, “Lawd! Universe! Mutha of All Things!!” needless to say my excitement was apparent. After solicitations of who would do a ZOOM event because this moment, needed to be shared among likeminded people, I proceeded with my sage, candle, and wine in hand ready for the main event.
During the ZOOM pre-game, my ladies came ready, head-wraps and vibes of Black Girl Magic glowing in every frame, while some of the men-folk garnered debates on who’s catalog could take who, the common denominator being none of us was even ready for what was about to take place.
Then it began…
Ms. Scott played excerpts of Nikki Giovanni while awaiting Queen Mother Pisces, Erykah Badu, who admitted in true Piscean fashion later in the evening that she has no conception of time, yes, the mood was set.
Once E. Badu arrived pleasantries exchanged of motherhood during the pandemic and respect of artistry on both sides, then the magic began. From the collective songwriting and then recording of both artist respectively on the Roots, “I Got You” to the illicitness of “Crown Royal” and all things in between, the ladies took us into the depth of how many have tried to pit them against each other, but there is nothing but love between them, to both addressing the subjects of “Allowing Vulnerability” “Releasing Fear” and “Attracting Vibrations.”
The vibe made me began to reflect on the songs and the intense catalog of emotions, thoughts, lyrics, melodies of being a woman that both artists have expressed which lead me the realization that Erykah Badu and Jill Scott combined gave a complete journey into the complex layers that is womanhood:
With “On and On” – Badu begins with “peace and blessings manifest with every lesson learned” showing the beginning of awareness on knowing that with every lesson if there is something learned it will always manifest itself as a blessing. This same thought is implied with “Bag Lady” understanding that if you hang on to hurts of the past and don’t transmute them into a lesson of growth you not only alienate yourself and stagnant growth, you block the ability of love being able to come into your life.
Badu’s “Apple Tree” hook is the epitome of IDGAF self-obsessiveness of drawing a metaphoric line in the sand of having boundaries and protecting your space —
“and if you don’t want to be down with me, then you don’t want to pick from my Apple Tree”
– please exit stage left because protecting myself, my space, and my peace are paramount, a thought that the song allows to be parlayed into all forms of relationships.
Scott’s “Rolling Hills” speaks specifically to the body-soul energy that is taken within a woman’s labia walls and the respect others should give it but more importantly the respect that a woman has to acknowledge it on her own (although she may falter many times from the “Crown Royal” moments in life – we’ll get to that.)
“Maybe you don’t recognize what you got between your thighs — there’s power in them rolling hills”
BUT!!! One of the main things that I love about this song, is within the second verse, where in the same melody she sings,
“Maybe you don’t recognize what you have between your EYES – spirit of discernment, pray for it every day, let you know who should go and who you let stay”
The last lyric showing that the most precious thing a woman possesses is her mind. This is so symbolic to Badu’s “Cleva” that takes us through the flaws she sees in her body, from no makeup to a little pot in her belly, and her dress only cost $7 because she “Cleva” — shows the evolution of moving beyond the visceral perspective of looks and possession to a self-aware place of wanting growth because she’s alright with her.
Being the water sign that she is, themes of loyalty run thorough Badu’s work, from “Next Lifetime” to the “Other Side of the Game,” whether it is not the right guy because of his work, life, or love situation, she’s with him. If I’m being honest, I don’t think there is a woman that can say, they’ve never been loyal to the wrong “situational” type. You know the good guy, he loves me, loves our family, but situational (whatever that may be) this is toxic and not good, but I love him strong, and now I have his seed, so I’m genuinely asking, what to do?
“Pressure on me but the seed had grown, I can’t make it on my own — whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”
In later albums, we begin to realize what has now happened to said love in “Danger” and the consequences of loyalty:
“Me and this baby – Gon’ be up all night long – Walkin’ this wood flo’ – ‘Till my man gets home – I’m at the front do’ – I’m listening by the phone – But I’m gon’ be here
With my make-up on” —Because I love him
Love him strong …
And to show the resilience even to detriment of women, she STILL loves him STRONG.
Yet, it would not be fair of me, to leave all things to the determined spirit of women, without recognizing there are most times an additional factor that leads to the inability to detached from some men/relationships in our lives….
Although Jill Scott’s “Until Then” where she coined the word, “Dickmatized” was not played during the match-up, “Crown Royal” gives a play-by-play in a 1:47 interlude of the type of lust-making that can cause you to lie to yo damn friends, and ride by the house of the dude you swear you were going stop hooking up with any time he called but not when you called. Yeah, judge ya mama, if you don’t admit that we all have been here, and if you haven’t then Honey, shame on you, because you ain’t lived life….PERIOD!
Yet, on the flip side, there does come a time when you find the love that combines where both lust and love can meet… cue up “The Way.” This is one of my favorite Jill Scott songs because of the lingering note, “GRITS” —
“Woke up this morning
Wit a smile on my face
Jumped outta bed
Took a shower,
Dressed, cleaned up my place
Made some breakfast:
Toast, two scrambled eggs, grits”
Although, in the song context, Jill is not referencing making grits for her lover, however, let me go on record to say, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve made grits for a man because to stand and endure pippin hot grains possibly popping on my skin, meaning you dickmatized and loved me on a level that whether you know it or not, we go together now. You’ve been warned.
This level of sex can leave a woman in love and….
Let’s face it, the true love of a woman is NAKED and this is probably where both artists reign equally in expressions… the naked love of a woman. From Scott’s Honey Molasses where she expresses how she’s opened herself and now waits in beautiful agony of reciprocations,
“I waited for your call but you chose not to call me
I wonder what happened
Were you inside a safe space and to I wondered
Were you thinking about me and if you were
Why was I feeling so lonely”
And Badu’s “I Want You” with very simplistic lyrics on repeat,
“I want you – In the worse kinda way I want you, So what we gone do? “– and at the end both stating the same thing and question, I’m naked, I’m open, are you? Lastly, there is….
Jill Scott takes the round, when it comes to epiphany moments throughout her albums, from “Whenever Your Around”, speaking to the confliction of being with someone but still being lonely because he’s not giving anything to this and you’re tired of trying too…
“‘Cause it seems like I’m always alone
You’re at arms reach
But baby, where are you?
Where are you?
‘Cause I got this fire
Sweet and true
But I’m cold as ice around you”
Leading to the steps of finally walking away in “Slowly Surely”, to the understanding of having the strength to move beyond the comfort of complacency towards real love and passion in “Fool’s Gold” to only begin the Hero’s Journey again at step one… “Consciousness.”
The conclusion of the battle must be said, the only winners in this was us because there is no competition when both Jill Scott and Erykah Badu collectively make up the whole experience know as woman with Scott being the beating heart and Badu being the glowing soul.