Bumpy | Credit: Georgia Mein

Love Letter to a Record: Bumpy on Erykah Badu’s ‘Baduizm’

Music Feeds’ Love Letter to a Record series asks artists to reflect on their relationship with the music they love and share stories about how it has influenced their lives. Here, Bumpy confesses her love for Erykah Badu’s canonical neo-soul record, Baduizm (1997).

Noongar woman Bumpy has released her debut EP, Morning Sun, a work of plush neo-soul that takes cues from Erykah Badu and recalls contemporaries Kadhja Bonét and Hiatus Kaiyote. Bumpy, who’s also a member of Naarm-based funk-soul group Squid Nebula, won the Archie Roach Foundation Award for Emerging Talent at the 2022 Music Victoria Awards. Recent single ‘Hide & Seek’ was added to rotation on Double J, FBi and Triple R.

Bumpy’s Love Letter to Erykah Badu’s Baduizm

Bumpy: Baduizm, what a beautiful gem. A charismatic, deep-diving, active-musical-swimming – or am I floating? – journey that has absolutely marked my expression. I could listen to this album at any time of day, in whatever state and still be fuelled by its lingering charm.

It was recommended to me with the “you must listen to this” demeanour and I was instantly captured. It feels like you know Erykah Badu when you listen to this album; her attitude and playfulness is so personable and authentic. The effortlessly stretchy phrasing and the way that she pushes and pulls time and density throughout this album became a constant source of inspiration in how I view the relationship of groove and phrasing.

My first car, a gold Toyota Corolla, loved this album. It would go weeks or months before I would change the CDs over. I had a selection of albums that I would cycle through when making the commute from where I grew up to Naarm, and Baduizm was a staple. My brother also probably knows every word as a result of these car trips. Could say sorry or could say you’re welcome?

I had this on repeat for the classic ‘car-eoke’ – I’d be driving along singing, thinking I was also projecting this Badu charm. I found this album has a way of filling me with confidence and a trust in my own creative decisions. Just like Erykah was doing her thing, I felt it allowed me to reflect on my own expression and further explore playfulness, charm and sensuality in music.

Erykah Badu – ‘Otherside of the Game’

I remember a class while studying music and the teacher sat with the seven of us students. Asked us to sit in silence and just listen. He hit play and the ‘Otherside Of The Game’ bass rolled in. While sitting and listening, he lip-synced the entire song.

Waving his finger, he outlined how her phrasing danced around the beat, how her accents and dynamic range informed time and how her flair made you want to scrunch up your nose, pout your lips and find yourself naturally dancing the pulse. It blew my mind. So many informed musical decisions that she presented in this powerful, feminine, Black, authentically divine way.

So, this song deserves a special mention. Although it has been played a crazy amount of times, there is still one melodic line that I have to stop whatever I’m doing and sing along with, full ‘tude and feeling in motion.

Not only has this album had a large scale impact on the neo-soul sound, but I’ve also had so many conversations about how Badu has informed peoples’ creative expression. Really showing you just how powerful a record can be. What a debut. Her following albums also hold their own light in their own right, but that’s for another love letter.

Thanks Baduizm – you continue to give so many gifts.

Bumpy – ‘Return Home’

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