ERYKAH BADU / “Southern Girl” (Opolopo Remix)

One thing I know is that I am one of the midwives aiding in the rebirth and process of music, and I never underestimate the audience's ability to feel that. Each night, I give them my all, and they give it all back, no matter what happens. —Erykah Badu
What duh phuque is this “Southern Girl”? How do Dallas be the south and why do it with a Philly beatbox? But beyond that, what should we call the remix, which is done by a Hungarian-born Swede? And what does it matter whatever are the answers to these questions? And, oh by the way, read the interview with Erykah where she talks about using technology in her performance. Even though she self-describes herself as “an analog girl in a digital world,” she is in fact an ardent proponent (in practice) of using the latest technology available for sound production. I, of course, dig her embrace of technology even as she persists in her devotion to trance—improvising on the one, riding a groove to the other side. The interview is at: But Erykah's use of the new is not the issue I want to address at the moment. How does one classify these complex collaborations she has dropped? “Southern Girl” is on Rhazel’s album but the force of Erykah is of such strength that we can’t help but hear this collaboration as an Erykah tune, regardless of what the reality of its origin is. And then when we listen to Opolopo’s remix, we think again that this too is Erykah’s thing, and even though these two versions are so different, so differently done, the vocals are actually the same. In the Opolopo remix, Erykah had already created and Opolopo supplied a completely new context for the song, based on what he heard but equally, if not more so, based on his own imagination. I don’t know how the original song with Rahzel came about. Don’t know if it was a collaboration in the studio, who thought of what, how it was put together, or nothing like that, and I won’t speculate on origins, instead my emphasis is on comparing the results and considering the question: how should we call this? ebadu2_small.jpg  It seems to me that the focus of both of these is the force of Erykah’s personality as manifested not simply by her singing but also as manifested by the content, which is narrated as autobiography, or more accurately, is self-referential but not confined to facts, therefore, one might say the content is both autobiography and imagination, with imagination being clearly the most important, or at least clearly to me. Imagination is the most important component of the content, and thus I recognize imagination as the Badu trademark. Not her “Little-Esther”-like voice, or her R&B/soul influences, nor her bent toward theatrics, or even her use of digital technology. No, none of that. Her imagination. So then, in the music I like, I find that the important ingredient is the imagination of the creators, and in that regard, while other vocalists have better voices or even a better sense of musicality (i.e. levels of skill and knowledge in the actual making of music), others do not have Badu’s wild-ass imagination, her sense of freedom and unpredictability, a sense that makes the best of her music so grandly enjoyable. So, to partially answer the questions I raised earlier, regardless of who are the collaborators, somebody got to be the fuel of the starship, got to provide the imagination to take us out there a minute, and thus, in this case, although the contributions of those whom she works with are very important, ultimately, at least in the case of Erykah Badu, ultimately it is her lead voice that distinguishes the collaboration. —Kalamu ya Salaam             Erykah is unique          erykah_badu-718141.jpg I couldn't agree more about Erykah. We may have talked about this once before, but Erykah is unique. Her career arc (so far) seems completely disconnected from the general trends. She's ruthlessly dedicated to doing her own thing, whatever her own thing might be at a given moment. And not in a 'trying to be different' or 'looking for attention' way, just in a 'this is who I am' way. I like a lot of what she does, but I find all of it interesting. As for the Opolopo remix, it certainly does create questions. The original is Erykah singing over a Rahzel beatbox track. It's labeled as Rahzel feat. Erykah Badu. With (I presume) Erykah performing and composing the vocals and Rahzel performing and composing the accompaniment. So, if a remixer strips away all of the accompaniment and 'builds' a new, unrelated track at home on his computer, then re-edits the original vocals back in, who's the artist?
Opolopo feat. Erykah Badu? Erykah Badu remixed by Opolopo? Rahzel feat. Erykah Badu remixed by Opolopo? Etc., etc.
As the gap between professional studio equipment and home computer equipment narrows, and as 'amateur' mash-up and remix artists become more skillful, we're going to be left with a lot more of these questions. Who is the artist? What is a collaboration? What is a remix? What is a remake? A rework? For me, the best thing about all of this is that people are feeling the freedom to express themselves without having to look to a record company for financial support or distribution. I'm digging it all. —Mtume ya Salaam

This entry was posted on Sunday, October 23rd, 2005 at 12:21 am and is filed under Cover. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “ERYKAH BADU / “Southern Girl” (Opolopo Remix)”

Berry Says:
October 24th, 2005 at 9:34 am

Hmm, food for thought 🙂

djenra Says:
October 24th, 2005 at 5:58 pm

“What duh phuque is this “Southern Girl”? How do Dallas be the south and why do it with a Philly beatbox? But beyond that, what should we call the remix, which is done by a Hungarian-born Swede? And what does it matter whatever are the answers to these questions?”

Hey Kalamu;

Nuthin’ matters…but then again everything does. In this existence that we call life, things ain’t always literal. She/we /thee speak in meta4. Not babalonian babble. We make this borrowed tongue our own through Pun/ the P Fun(k).

Southern is the direction we hail from, back in our beginnings. We all got our roots from *down South* here in the “use-us-eh” – from slave array.

What you say?

We be industrialized
Detroit read, mowed down,
philly bread,
MOVED around
trying to do better
in a blue collar town
like grandma said.

Got our hair dyed & fried, fore our Nation got downsized
with de smoke in our eyes, we didn’t see the remix as a techno spell

but we still be.

Sun people. Southern folk. children of Punt/ Ptah’s dark stars. No matter how far we wander. Or where we be so-called “living”.

Our South is an inward direction. It’s home.

southern girl, 2.

Stephanie Renee Says:
October 26th, 2005 at 8:32 am

Yes indeedy, from a DeeCee baybee who’s now taken temporary root in Illadelph, I’m feeling this.

Me? Not Southern in the least, yet I manifest more than a few traits and ways that can be distinctly referenced as being carried genetically from my Southern (& transcontinental) connections.

And how about a Hungarian giving the remix a gogo-like swing? Music is a universal language, indeed!

petite Says:
February 7th, 2006 at 2:34 pm

I think Erykah is one of the worlds greatest divas that will never be forgotten especially by me. I hope that she continues to be the beasutiful diva that she is. She will neva be forgotten. oh yeah my favorite song by erykah is “love of my life”
I’m sure all of your fans love that song. so good luck and much peace, love, and happiness.

claudia Says:
June 2nd, 2007 at 5:38 am

i love her. she´s my angel and my sister. . wonderful is the word what is in my head for her. . . .

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