This year's Meadows Festival in Queens, NY has been a showcase of masters at work.
JAY-Z headlined on Friday night (Sept. 15) and on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 16), after her unofficial former brother-in-law and still current close friend Big Boi gave a lesson in showmanship with his set, Erykah Badu took the main stage, bringing her practically perfect vocals.
Badu, fresh from a lauded sold-out concert the previous night, did what she does best: touch souls with her voice.
"Soldier," which isn't one of her big radio records, has become a new concert go-to for the singer, with its powerful, revolutionary message. And in these crazy times with race relations boiling over, the record feels as timely as ever.
"To my folks on the picket line," Badu and the audience sang together. "Don't stop 'til you change dey mind / I got luv fo' my folks /Baptized when the levy broke / We gone keep marchin' on / Until you hear dat freedom song."
"And if you think about turning back / I got the shotgun on ya back / And if you think about turning back / I got the shotgun on ya back."
"Master Teacher," which came after, carried on the theme.
"What if there were no n---as only master teachers? I stay woke," she sang, painting the ultimate dream scenario for Black culture.
Badu brought a more festive mood momentarily, as she turned attention to her beloved Worldwide Underground LP, with the ambrosial "Back In The Day." But things intensified, as she moved down a few slots on the album's track listing with her puissant storytelling on "Danger." Badu ended her successful set with "Danger's" predecessor, and one her most signatures smashes, the always-gripping "The Other Side of the Game." Of course, Badu is one the midst of celebrating 20 years of her seminal debut Baduism which spawned the smash.
The only drawback to Badu's set was that many fans complained she was on at the exact same time as Queens hero and rap legend LL Cool J. The man who ruled the genre for decades brought out A Tribe Called Quest, DMC and Melle Mel on his set.
The Q-Boro will get more Kingly representation today on the final day of the fest as Nas and Action Bronson are on the bill along with Ghostface Killah and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.