Mystical songstress, Erykah Badu, is known for imparting wisdom. And she continued this trend Wednesday night (Dec. 20), by electrifying the stage of The Tonight Show with a cover of one of the most influential music artists to date, Fela Kuti.
Nearing the twentieth anniversary of her legendary album, Baduizm, Badu took the opportunity to revisit her classic song “On and On” while possibly introducing an audience to the music of the late Kuti by covering one of his popular records, “Sorrows Tears and Blood.”
As a native-Nigerian, singer/songwriter Kuti is partly known for pioneering the “Afrobeats” genre. While this alone is a crowning achievement, it is Kuti’s political activism that defines his artistic legacy. Kuti was a harsh opponent of European colonialism and Nigeria’s military regimes. This outspoken criticism resulted in him being jailed countless of times and even the death of his mother at the hands of the Nigerian military. Despite this, Kuti continued to rebel both physically and artistically against societal injustices until his passing in 1997.
Kuti’s persistent fight for justice is something Badu has pointed to as a muse for her music, claiming in a statement regarding her curation of the Fela Kuti Box Set #4 that he’s “a f*****g genius!”
Badu’s infatuation with Kuti only seems right as she too is known for addressing societal injustices both inside and outside her music, which she did through the video to her song “Window Seat” and her constant support of Colin Kaepernick.
Outside of this, Badu’s appearance on The Tonight Show could be a hint at possible upcoming music. With the forthcoming anniversary of Baduizm and a confirmed project with DRAM in the works, it seems as though fans could be receiving more than just hilarious social media post from Fat Belly Bella. And if her cover of “Sorrows Tears and Blood” is indicative of the direction of these hypothesised tracks, Ms. Badu might be delivering a rebellious message that will likely be well-received in this turbulent political climate.