LIVE REVIEW: ERYKAH BADU The Palais, Tuesday April 15

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Originally published in Beat Magazine.

 

Acknowledging Badu as one of her musical inspirations back at a Northcote Social gig last year, Nai Palm was giddy when recalling the moment she found out that the queen of soul was digging her beats with Hiatus Kaiyote. Who would have thought that less than a year later, she and her band would be joining Badu on an Australian tour. The quirky, polyrhythmic Melbourne band are an acquired taste; drunk on off beats and complicated compositions. Their music isn’t for everyone, but those that love them – myself included – can’t get enough of them. They played a tight set, showcasing some new material. A band more suited to a less formal venue, their cover of Dilla’s So Far To Go was so dope that it was a real bitch being confined to the limited standing space. A killer set regardless, be sure to see them heat up the floor at their Howler residency next month.

Now, Badu. Dressed in a get-up that only she could pull off, the queen was wearing an ensemble of clothes that looked like they’d been picked off the floor of an op-shop. A headscarf, a Pharrell-esque hat, a flanny shirt with only the top button done up, those street pants that sag at the butt and then loosen up around the thighs and another mismatched thing around her waist. Like I said, nobody else could have pulled that off. She sounded great and performed well, despite it being nearly two decades since her Baduizm debut. She proved her range, switching effortlessly between vocals and rhymes. She also opened the beat in many of her tracks by slapping a vacant drum pad, quite well too.

Ignoring the Palais’ conservative aesthetic, she soon had everyone dancing. Unlike her early sets where she would come out with her turban, incense and spirituality, this gig felt more ghetto. There were a lot of songs that she didn’t sing that I wished she had and she dragged on a few choruses longer than was necessary. She also didn’t do an encore, which left her performance a bit abrupt. She had a habit of doing these exaggerated poses that came off as a little affected, due to the sheer number of times they were done. Her band was great, but nobody really took notice of them. It would have been cool if she’d added a horn player to the section, just to give the guys a bit of fair play.

She was eternally grateful of her audience and her setting and she often voiced it throughout the set. She improvised well when it came to spitting rhymes and she made us laugh a lot with her impromptu wordplay about loose headscarves. Ultimately, she delivered a thrilling set, however self-indulgent it may have been. Yes Badu, your legs and arse may be getting bigger, but you were and always will be twenty feet tall.

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Meet…SHONA McCOY

 

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Up and coming Melbourne rapper and pop artist Shona McCoy takes some time out to talk about her music, her love for rap and her plans for 2015.

What is it about music that you love the most?

I love how it can conjure up personal feelings in an individual. I love how it can make us dance!

Which artists dominated your playlists growing up?

Growing up my Mum listened to 50’s and 60’s Rock’n’Roll. I loved the pop music played on the radio and listened to artists such as Lauryn Hill, Usher, Beyonce, Rihanna, The Game.

Who are the biggest influences on your music today?

Today I still love pop music. I try to mould my own sound whilst keeping on top of what is being broadcast across the industry. I love to learn about new artists and how people feel about them. I also love Nicki Minaj and Azealea Banks. My family and friends are very supportive and are a great influence on my life.

Tell us a little about your style of music.

My music is mostly pop and dance with a bit of a rap/hip hop flavour blended throughout the vocals.

Tell us about the last song you wrote.

I wrote a verse for 666 Drop whilst I was sleeping. I had a pen and paper next to my bed and the next day, I completely forgot about it. I found it a few days later and sent that to my friend, Holly-J (Fox FM DJ) who started making beats for it while I continued to write.

Do you have any pre-gig rituals?

I listen to my set while I am driving around in my car so that I feel like I know it inside out. I am sure people look at me strange at the traffic lights! Before going on I just try to stay calm and take deep breaths! Not always super successful but it’s difficult to rap and sing if you run out of air!

Who would be your ideal collaborative partner?

I would love to collaborate with so many different people. Everyone has their merits. If I had to choose one today I would ask for Timbaland I think…

Where do you see yourself and your music by the end of the year?

I hope to have finished my EP and also secured a great team to work with on getting my music out there to a wider audience.

The Commonwealth Government’s Creative Industries Innovation Centre just released a study that showed that musicians are the lowest paid of all Australian creatives. How does this statement make you feel?

Like we need to start recognising our home grown talent while they’re still on our soil!

Do you think this news could potentially inhibit musicians from following their dreams?

I don’t believe that money should be a significant motivator to undertake any career. You can continue to work a ‘day job’ whilst following your dreams to a level where they support you financially.

Do you believe change rests solely on fans and listeners?

Change involves everyone. Certainly fans and listeners are a key factor however there needs to be support from all corners of the industry: radio broadcasters to producers to investors.

What has been your most memorable moment as a musician?

I did a gig down in Geelong and some girls gleefully threw Granny Panties on stage at me and my co-performer!

Let’s pretend your music is a chocolate bar. Sell it to me in a sentence.

A rich, bubbly flavour with a bouncy rush that leaves you hungry for more.