Revolutionary neo-soul artist Erykah Badu recently released an eccentric mixtape entitled “But You Cain’t Use My Phone,” a cohesive and thematic body of work that focuses on the telephone as more than just a personal possession.
The 11 songs that comprise the mixtape feature references to and appearances by other artistic powerhouses such as Drake and Outkast’s Andre 3000. Badu crafts a creative spin-off of Drake’s hit song “Hotline Bling” titled “Cel U Lar Device.” In her version of the song, Badu touches upon deep themes of racial consciousness and the shallow nature of show business.
She references Drake’s lyrics as well in the song “U Used to Call Me,” which features the soothing, rhythmic voice of little-known rapper ItsRoutine.
Badu references “Hotline Bling” yet again in the song “I’ll Call U Back” – this time borrowing the beat rather than the lyrics. Badu revealed that Drake heavily influenced the creation of her mixtape, a feat that proves extremely evident after listening to the body of work in its entirety.
Throughout the mixtape, Badu stresses as well society’s growing reliance on cellular devices and the ironic loss of communication that occurs in relationships as a result; she does so specifically in the songs “Phone Down” and “Mr. Telephone Man,” where Badu seems to have trouble reaching her partner both physically and emotionally.
The final song of the album, “Hello” also discusses the influence of telephones on the relationship between lovers.
This song features a fantastic and fast-paced verse by Andre 3000, a former romantic partner and the father of Badu’s first child.
Badu goes on in the mixtape to give listeners a lesson in science with the song “Dial’Afreaq,” which begins with a robotic female voice explaining the ways in which cellular phones disrupt the lives and existence of bees.
The song, however, eventually takes a playful turn, much like “U Don’t Have to Call,” both of which possess an innovative, futuristic vibe listeners want to wiggle their hips to.
Badu further explores the limitless nature of her creativity with her “Medley: What’s Yo Phone Number / Telephone (Ghost of Screw Mix)” that again features Drake-esque artist ItsRoutine.
“But You Cain’t Use My Phone” succeeds in fusing contemporary R&B melodies with the brilliantly unique mind and soul of legendary artist Erykah Badu.
The underlying themes woven throughout the lyrics of the collection coupled with the reverberating chill of Badu’s voice will have you going back to this mixtape time and time again.
Aryanah Haydu can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org