More than 26 years since Erykah Badu’s debut album “Baduizm” (1997) dropped, it proves to be the gift of an album that keeps on giving. As part of her “Unfollow Me” tour, Badu is engaging fans with creative animation and gifts along with live performances, and much of the theme takes a bite from her 1997 song “Appletree.”
“I started out as an MC and my MC name was Apples,” Badu said in an intimate press junket on July 6. “I went on to relate a lot of things in my music and then my career to apples. My nickname was ‘Apples’ growing up. My childhood friends and family members still call me that and I went on to name my touring company, Appletree Touring Company. Apples have always been important.”
She further emphasized how apples have continued to remain key to her life and career.
“I went on to name my cannabis line ‘Appletrees,’ which is also one of my songs, ‘Appletree.’ And in the song, the lyrics say, ‘I pick my friends like I pick my fruit. My granny told me that when I was only a youth,’” the songwriter explained before breaking down the background of the uplifting track. “My grandmother told me that bit of advice and it kind of stuck with me — follows me through life.”
The Grammy-winning singer and songstress added that apples have remained a symbol of “being organic,” so when she decided to go on tour, she knew she wanted to incorporate that integral part of her life.
“I knew I was going to be touring, and I was trying to think of things that could engage the audience and I came up with a quest. And the visuals, and everything in my show, all have to do with quests. … So I created this campaign for my fans. It’s a vision quest, and the hidden object in each city will be this apple,” the singer explained, showcasing an apple-shaped bong.
The bong, generally used for smoking marijuana, will be hidden in cities as she tours. She hits D.C.’s Capital One Arena on Thursday, July 13, with Grammy-nominated artist Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def).
After Badu, as well as some local, trustworthy volunteers, hide the bongs throughout cities, the singer will promote where the items are hidden. Lucky fans will then scan a QR code found on the bong, which will offer other gifts, including attending concerts, meet-and-greets, and other Badu-themed swag and treats.
However, the celebration of apple trees and Badu’s iconic song doesn’t end with the bongs. She collaborated with Belgian animation artist Robin Velghe, better known as RhymezlikeDimez, for an animated short “Forbidden Fruits.”
Inspired by Badu’s song “Appletree,” “Forbidden Fruits” shows Puff, a cloud-shaped character repeated throughout much of Rhymezlikedimez’s work who is seeking infinite knowledge. The “infinite knowledge” is represented by red and green apples.
The creative video treatment of “Appletree,” which also features a Badu cameo, was created in divine timing, the singer and animation artist explained.
“One day, I was looking on [Instagram] and I saw my friend Robin, who is a cultural staple in animation as well as for his shorts — he’s known for his shorts in hip-hop, specifically. And I was thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be perfect if he could create something?’ A year later, Rhymez sends me a message and says ‘I’ve created something,’” Badu said.
“This is one of the most effortless collaborations that I’ve ever done,” Rhymezlikedimez told reporters.
While she hopes fans tap into her “Unfollow Me” tour, and gain clarity in their own quests, Badu also said audiences can still learn lessons from “Appletree,” such as embracing your own beauty and being unapologetically yourself.
“I think that the idea of unapologetically being is an action,” Badu told The Informer, sharing how unapologetically spreading joy is key in passing the power of positivity. “It can and will reach the next person, and the next and the next.”
Source: Washington Informer