Baduizm, a triple-platinum masterpiece of vintage soulful sounds, jettisoned her to the top of Billboard charts and critical watch lists. But Badu remains a force in music because of her ability to reinvent her sound, maturing with it, rather than against it. Case in point: But You Caint Use My Phone, the 2015 mixtape that Badu slyly released on her own record label. The mixtape meditates on the modern ubiquity of cell phones with a digital sound aesthetic. In some parts, such as the Drake-inspired “Cel U Lar Device,” Badu creates a clever meta-commentary on mimetic music culture. On other parts, like “Hello,” she reminds us that our hyper-connectedness doesn’t necessarily help us feel closer.
Erykah Badu is an established empress of R&B; her 1997 album