Erykah Badu Lights Up L.A.’s El Rey Theatre

On Tuesday night, fans eagerly waited for over two hours to catch Erykah Badu perform at a “secret show” and album release party for her new album New Amerykah Part Two: Return of The Ankh at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. The restless crowd was alleviated with black-and-white home videos of Badu, a DJ spinning everything from “Welcome to Jamrock” to some of her biggest hits, and last but not least, the woman of the hour, who worked the room, posing for pictures with adoring fans.

Clad in her now signature beaded, braided wig, khaki trench coat, and boots, the soul songstress joined her 10-piece band, which included bongos and a harp, and played over 15 songs. The audience went wild when she performed her 1996 hit “On and On.” During “Twinkle,” she disrobed to reveal a pair of jeans, a flannel top, and that increasingly popular bottom half.

“OK, it’s time. If you got it, light it up,” Badu announced as she began “Back in the Day (Puff)” while she passed an imaginary joint to her band and eventually into the audience. After staging several songs on the drum machine and dancing, she closed with her much-talked-about single “Window Seat” and left the crowd with this: “Remember, your smile is contagious and it can spark…a million.” Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” then played on cue as she exited the stage after nearly two hours of pure funk and soul.

–Jessica Washington