Remember Erykah Badu? New York sure doesn’t.
The singer-songwriter, record producer, activist and actress definitely had her heyday in the ’90s, when her first album, Baduizm, went triple platinum. But it didn’t end there. Badu’s second album, a live concert recording, went double platinum, her third album went platinum and her fourth album went gold. Yeah. She’s kind of a big deal.
That’s why it’s so surprising that when Badu went busking in Times Square, basically no one recognized her.
Gawker calls her “one of the greatest R&B singers of a generation,” but from this video, you wouldn’t know it. Sure, it’s been a few years since she’s produced an album, but come on, New York.
The video, shot by Badu and a friend on a cell phone, shows exactly what happened when the multi-platinum singer tried to play anonymously in New York City. At the beginning of the seven-minute video, titled “Street Hustle Experiment,” one person recognizes Badu and takes her photo. For the rest of the video, pretty much no one cares.
“Maybe I should take off my hat so no one recognizes me,” she says. She places it on the sidewalk and launches into singing to strangers, “Please give me some money… I don’t wanna get no job, I just want your money.”
Maybe that was her mistake. Maybe one of her well-played singles would have been more effective. Regardless, New Yorkers were oblivious to her real identity as she danced, clapped and sang for… $3.60. That’s right. Enough for, what, a slice of pizza? Maybe?
Luckily, she has a good attitude about it — after tallying up her money, she says, “Look at all this money. See, if you got some initiative, you can make money. All you need is a little initiative and a little talent.”