Erykah Badu says Drake’s “Hotline Bling” rebooted her musical hard drive.
During a recently published interview with Pitchfork, the Dallas-born singer-songwriter revealed that Drizzy’s song got her up and running with regards to her recently released mixtape, But You Caint Use My Phone.
“It was Drake’s song that helped me reboot the music hard drive inside of me,” Badu says. “Once I embodied that, I was off and running because I knew how to use the frequencies to fit my tastes, and I was able to manipulate Ableton and sound effects and voice boxes and all these things. I’ve always tampered with that, but not to this extent. Of course, New Amerykah Part One was a psychedelic trip, but it had an analog base. With But You Caint Use My Phone, I didn’t use any analog-based material, all digi.”
Elsewhere in the conversation, Badu detailed the making of “Hello,” her duet with André 3000 which reworks The Isley Brothers’ “Hello It’s Me.”
“One day, I was sharing my ideas with [my son] Seven and André in the living room, and they are always really excited to share ideas with me—especially when they see that I’m percolating,” Badu says. “They threw out a whole lot of songs to me once they figured out I was doing a phone theme with the mixtape, and André goes, ‘What about the Isley Brothers’ ‘Hello It’s Me’?’ and I was like ‘Yeah!’ So I plugged my phone in the speaker jack and played it, and we all started singing. Of course, the melody is totally different from how I did it, but it’s a classic and a favorite in the house. But André didn’t think of being a part of the song at first. He just wanted to hear my take on it. So after Seven went off to school, I went over to [producer] Zach Witness’ house and had him do a piano version of it that was just 30 seconds long, and I intended it to be a short interlude. At that point my vocals weren’t in it, and I sent that music to André and said, ‘This is what I came up with, isn’t it pretty.’ And he said, ‘Wow, it is pretty.’ A couple of days later, he said, ‘Erykah, I’m riding around listening to this every day, I can’t get it out of my mind.’ And I said, ‘Well, maybe you should put a verse to it.’
“Then André went over to Zach’s house and put a verse to it—I was out of town—and they sent it to me over email. I was like, ‘You have totally annihilated the track! This is it!’ I got home and recorded my ‘hello hello’ parts, and that was supposed to be it. But after we heard ourselves together, we both thought: This is a duet. Then André said out loud, ‘We need to finish it.’ So we got in my living room and started at 11 p.m. and finished at five in the morning… After we finished, we were very silent. We knew we had created something special, that it was more than we thought it would be. At that point, I said, ‘This is no longer a mixtape, this is an event.’”
To read the full interview whereby Erykah Badu says Drake’s “Hotline Bling” rebooted her musical hard drive, please visit Pitchfork.