Baduizm, an Exploration of the Struggle for Identity
To love our neighbour as ourselves is such a truth for regulating human society, that by that alone one might determine all the cases in social morality- John L
Fighting human nature
Freedom is not a right we are born with. I probably could have conjured a slightly more diplomatic way to voice that opinion, but certain events around the world are still shocking members of the populace out of a naiveté that is frankly useless in the upcoming years. So, to restate my observations- Freedom is not a right we are born with, so freedom is not universal.
Follow my stream of consciousness here. The classically liberal principles we flatteringly deemed human rights are just about four centuries old, if we are being nice and counting John Locke as the moment the world awakened that oppression might be wrong. In all honesty I find within my nature is not only the tendency to impose my will on someone, but a hunger that finds it pleasurable. I am not particularly unique in the way that I’m wired so one must assume this is a trait people other than me share. Therefore; if you work with the assumption that freedom is having agency over your will, your agency and your identity, to fight for freedom is to fight an aspect of human nature. Freedom is not a right, it is a battle we often lose- now unto Badu.
On and on
Erykah Badu is a charismatic enigma of a person, I had been trying to write this article for a while, but anytime I started, it seemed I could only write “her music is amazing” until my fingers bled. Fortunately; I lived to tell the tale, and in glorious hyperbole I present “Baduizm”.
Sonically, the album melds jazz and R&B into a concoction that sounds like an auditory love potion. She effortlessly jumps between the runs of R&B to scat singing an it all works because her voice zig-zags in and out of the track with the skill of a Greek siren. The effect is trance like, almost as if Badu prepares a spell on that you voluntarily cast on yourself as you choose to play the album.
The message/ the death of the naïve
Of course, the spell cast would be useless if the subtly, seductive, sorceress had nothing to say. Different narratives and analogies are woven through this album, mostly of people trying to take her identity and choice away from her. Ultimately the character the album paints, struggles and almost gives up on the fight for herself. Eventually she attains a state of consciousness when she accepts that the fight never ends. The world keeps turning you can choose to go along with it or die. At this point to the perspective of the album Badu becomes a god, the power of this album lies in the fact that instead of recoiling at the ego it takes to normally state something like that- you believe her and sing along. She has put you under a spell, regardless of whether you personally subscribe to the philosophy of the nations of gods and earths, this album still resonates because she reminds you that your identity is something you must fight for too.
This year more than anything has seen the death of the naïve. This, as expected, was quite painful, but ultimately necessary. This is a reminder that we should seize agency over our identity and those enslaved still by the worst of human nature. Freedom is not a right we are born with, it’s our responsibility.
© 2017 Iyunoluwanimi Yemi-Shodimu