Provocative soul singer Erykah Badu has remained a challenging figure since she emerged on the national music scene 15 years ago.
Perhaps part of the reason she’s kept her edge is that despite selling her share of records, she’s remained outside of the mainstream.
“I believe she’s avoided that — that’s not where she’s trying to go,” says Philly hip-hop impresario Dave Ghet. “She’s definitely trying her best to stay under the radar and with that comes a freedom. Take someone like Mariah Carey. There are records Mariah Carey can’t make.”
But Badu can.
Her music will be celebrated April 12 by the Ghet-led Soulidified crew in “Love of My Life: A Celebration of the Music of Erykah Badu,” at the World Cafe Live upstairs stage.
Badu burst on the scene with the 1997 album “Baduizm,” which featured the hit single “On & On,” an alluring earthy, jazzy excursion. The track and video established Badu as a figure of importance in the music world and as one of the leading lights of the then burgeoning neo-soul movement. Since then, she’s represented the ladies in “Tyrone,” spoke out for independence in “Bag Lady” and celebrated hip-hop in “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop).”
“(Badu) can make the records she makes because of who she’s become,” Ghet says. “She’s not at that level of success where it’s a hindrance to the creativeness of what artist can do.”
But those who know, know. The Soulidified crew have been paying tribute to the greats, from Marvin Gaye to Mary J. Blige, for the last three years. Ghet, aka Dave Reynolds, made his name as Dave Ghetto of Camden, whose hood-centric but not hood-restricted rhymes made him a man of importance on the national hip-hop scene.
During the Soulidified performance, both guys and gals will take turns on vocals on Badu’s hits. But no, there won’t be a recreation of Badu’s 2010 “Window Seat” video, in which she stripped down naked on the streets of Dallas.
“That was very provocative,” Ghet says.