Erykah Badu is one of the more interesting R&B performers around. After a slew of hits in the mid to late 90s, she went on to be an integral part in the rise of the neo-soul movement of the early 2000s. But that doesn’t matter. On October 15th, she played Times Square in New York City. On the street. And made $3.60.
In a (badly shot) video that was released by Okayplayer (Erykah, everyone knows to hold the phone horizontally when recording video, pssssh) Erykah takes to 42nd St and plays for around half an hour to disinterested tourists, people already with headphones in trying to get home, and regular New Yorkers trying desperately to GTFO of Times Square. For those living outside of New York, Times Square is not the super-fun place that regular New Yorker folks like to go to. In fact, it’s riddled with asshole tourists gawking at neon signs; quite the opposite of the “if you can make it here you can make it anywhere!” image that people would like to think it is. You try to get out of there ASAP, is what I’m saying.
So on one hand: hugely influential R&B star plays in Times Square and makes just enough to cover a latter. On the other hand: hugely influential R&B star plays to people who aren’t New Yorkers in the least New York-y part of New York. It’s sort of like Einstein being found alive and well and giving lectures in front of Mann’s Chinese Theater in LA—no matter who you are, you’re gonna blend right in.