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Erykah Badu. The First Lady of Neo Soul [Illustrated] [Paperback]

Joel McIver
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 Dec 2002
"We are on Earth to experience the consequences of our choices," points out Erykah Badu. A singer, actor, director, songwriter, earth-mother and spiritualist, the impact of the former Erica Wright on the soul, jazz, hip-hop and blues scenes has been almost unprecedented. An artist more opposed to the radio divas that make up so much of modern R&B could hardly be imagined – Badu is talented, proud, intimidating, vulnerable and wise beyond her years, and all with only three albums behind her.
Her power, she says, is fuelled by three of life’s most basic lessons: knowledge, wisdom and understanding, observing that "Knowledge is knowing how a thing works; the wisdom is knowing how to use it and understanding is basically knowing what you’re doing with it. That’s power to me." Her story is one of strength against adversity and a self-belief that is a lesson to us all.
Joel McIver's previous books have covered diverse musical areas such as heavy metal in all its forms, with one of his biographies -- Slipknot Unmasked (2001) -- being described as "an extremely detailed and insightful book", by Hard Radio. Another work, Nu-Metal: The Next Generation Of Rock And Punk (2002) was hailed as "an essential purchase for anyone interested in the development of modern rock music" (Noise) and "Entertaining... a book all ravaged nu-metal guitar freaks will want to get their ravaged hands on" (PS2). Guitar concluded that "McIver's your man", while Q pointed to the book's "helpful mini-biographies" and Metal Hammer found it "ideal for use as a reference point". His most recent book, Ice Cube: Attitude, was reviewed in Uncut with the words: "McIver's strength... is in emphasising the provocative strength of Cube's core records... and describing their impact on America". This new Erykah Badu biography is another successful combination of detailed chronological narrative and well-balanced analysis of the issues this artist and her music raise.

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Sanctuary Publishing Ltd (20 Dec 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860743854
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860743856
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.9 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 700,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joel McIver (born 1971) is a British author. The best-known of his 21 books to date is the bestselling Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica, first published in 2004 and selling close to 50,000 copies in nine languages since then. McIver's other works include biographies of Black Sabbath, Slayer, Ice Cube and Queens Of The Stone Age. His writing also appears in many newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian, Classic Rock and Rolling Stone, and he is a regular guest on music-related BBC and commercial radio.

In the introduction to a 2009 collection of rock writing, McIver was described as "probably the top [rock] scribe in the world", and in a book review in April 2012, Classic Rock magazine labelled McIver "by some distance Britain's most prolific hard rock/metal author".

As well as writing his own books, McIver also co-writes the memoirs of rock musicians, notably that of sometime Deep Purple bassist Glenn Hughes, whose autobiography was published in May 2011, and of Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy), whose book will appear in 2013.

Contact Joel at or

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
There's nothing particularly unusual about the North Park district in Dallas, except perhaps for the fact that it has no park. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars YAWN..... 3 Aug 2005
By A Customer
The heading just about sums up my thoughts on this book. Really quite dull and everything in this books seems to be told 3rd hand. Only buy it if you are really hard up for something thing to read!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book 4 Jan 2011
By Talisha
I bought this book to help with an essay I had to write for my class.
Not only did I learn things about Badu's past and achievements but it also gave some
great soundbites to use in my essay. I believe the Distinction I received was partly down to this book

For what I needed it for, it was a very good resourceful book,however while hard core fans might really enjoy this, others may find it a little less interesting :)
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3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good 10 Oct 2006
Joel McIver is perhaps best known in metal circles and wrote a fine book on Metallica, amongst others. Here he tackles this R&B icon with generally OK results. It's not a classic but there's enough in here for the passing fan intent on learning more. A pity that there wasn't some stronger interview material but for those of us who only know the story in passing this is informative and pretty good.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great book 20 Mar 2003
I would encourage all Erykah Badu's fans to rush out and buy this book !! A truly remarkable account of her all round talent, passion, and commitment. Joel McIver's book gives a true picture of Erykah's extremely industrious nature to all aspects of her work, and also captures the unvavering belief that Erykah has always held within herself regarding her commercial success. This storty, although not an autobiography in the artist's own words, does give numerous accounts from Erykah's close friends and family respectively, which adds to the genuine love, warmth and generosity that seems to jump out of these pages and envelop the reader.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First Lady of Neo Soul 22 Nov 2010
By rmcrae - Published on
There was nobody else like Erykah Badu when her song On and On hit the airwaves in 1997. The Texas native embraced her African heritage with large, colorful headwraps and beautiful jewelry. She grew up admiring the music of Billie Holiday, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Anita Baker, and Aretha Franklin and those influences stood out in her own work. Over a decade later and Badu is still a unique figure.

Joel McIver's detailed portrait of the singer takes a look at the diva's early years as Erica Wright, the oldest of three children, from South Dallas. Inspired by her mother Kolleen, the little girl performed at the Dallas Theatre Centre and later graduated from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts. Erica dropped the 'ica' for a "y" and "kah" (for "the inner self") and "Badu" because it was her favorite word to scat.

Stripping away her "slave name" and dropping out of Grambling State University, she set her sights on the music industry and was soon signed with Kedar Massenburg, formerly of Motown Records. The rest as they say is history.

McIver's book is well written and always on point. It never meanders or drags in parts. Everything from Erykah trying to build a relationship with her father after he walked out on her family when she was young and her painful breakup from Andre 3000 of Outkast is intriguing. Pick it up.
5.0 out of 5 stars Some izm for the mind 9 Nov 2013
By Michael Berger - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Erykah Badu is so different than any other singer/performer. She has this air about her that her talent is as much her gift as it is our, given to her by Our Creator. But trying to find a good enough biography on her was pretty hard- until this book. It might be a little dated, as it was released in 2002, but it is still the best documentation we have on this wonderful soul. I don't look at her Ms. Badu as a singer- I look to her a teacher. Some people feel she is a bit up her own azz about her stuff,but I feel we should all try to emulate the way Erykah carries herself.

This has become my new bed-side Bible. It's full of some serious insight- both in to the artist's work, as well as life. If you are at all enamored with Ms. Badu, you will find this book fits perfectly next to her albums. It's just as full of Baduizm as the album itself.

From the writer standpoint, I appreciate the way Mr. McIver remains objective to Erykah (even critiquing some her songs). What you get is a wonderful outsider perspective into the world of Badu. If you ain't changed after reading this, then nothing will change you.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on a great artist - well written 5 Nov 2010
By CB - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very well written book on a great artist. Must have for those who like Badu and music biographies.
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