On May 9th, 2020 two legendary neo-soul artists sat down on Instagram Live and gave nearly 1 million attendees ALL. OF. THEE. LIFE.
Here’s what made it so special to me…
When news broke that Erykah Badu and Jill Scott would be participating in the first female #Verzuz, the internet started buzzing, but no one could anticipate the pure magic that came from the 3 hour session.
As a Black woman, the exchange felt very familiar. It was the epitome of Black Girl Magic - a concept that was created as a way to “celebrate the beauty, power and resilience of Black women”, as described by Julee Wilson from HuffPost, and to congratulate Black women on their accomplishments.
It was peaceful. It was healing. It was life-giving. It was fun.
1. THE MUSIC
Erykah and Jill have hits to last for daaaaays. Their songs are like the soundtrack for those big sister talks about life, love, and womanhood. The session started off with their joint effort “You Got Me” and Jill revealed that it was the first song she had ever written. Not to mention, it’s the only song Erykah has not penned herself.
So yeah. Already magical lol.
As the night progressed, they each shared some of their most loved songs including “On & On”, “Didn’t Cha Know”, and “Next Lifetime” from Badu and “Crown Royal”, “A Long Walk”, and “The Way” from Scott. In between plays, they shared the backstories for how the songs came to be and the special moments that lead to their creation as well as their own dialogue which was rich and laced with wisdom and love.
It felt like an intimate conversation between friends, except there were 700,000 people watching.
Listen to the entire playlist below!
2. THE CULTURE
Before the session began, I had already set the mood. I lit my frankincense and myrrh candle, grabbed my adult coloring book, and propped my phone up for the vibes to commence.
Jill showed up with her choice of wine and libations. Erykah, with her DJ set against a running backdrop of Bruce Lee footage. Both were dressed in traditional neo-soul/hotep garb lol.
Headwraps. Long flowing fabrics. Large earrings. I’m talking ON BRAND. And BEAUTIFUL.
Both of them had the type of glow that you can only attain when you have done the inward work and have a certain resolve about yourself.
They talked about Philly, Dallas, traveling, special shows, mutual friends, lovers, oppression, living in America, motherhood, life during quarantine, self-care, and their current professional endeavors.
One of my favorite quotes came from Erykah when discussing the nature of hip hop in comparison to religion:
“Everybody nods their head in agreement to the kick and the snare"
Culture is about shared experiences and unwritten languages. The culture was represented not just in the atmosphere and clothing. It was in the conversation, the word choice, the humor, and the talking points that made all of us feel connected.
3. THE LOVE
These women spent 3 hours loving on and exhorting each other. As soon as the session started, they were singing each other’s praises. Jill particularly pointed out how much Erykah had influenced her career and given her a start in the industry.
Erykah confirmed Jill’s right to space in the industry by saying she was supposed to work with her. Over the course of the next 3 hours, they reminisced on some of their most special moments together and shouted out other amazing women who had influenced them.
Jill asked Erykah for her book of poetry and promised to rub her feet as a token of appreciation. When Erykah lost connection right at the moment she was about to play “Tyrone”, Jill stepped in and played it for her. The mutual admiration was palpable. They encouraged each other as artists, women, mothers, and humans.
I’ve experienced this kind of exchange many times in my personal life. Gathering with loving Black women who intentionally support, lift, and heal each other. It is something that cannot be put into words.
It comes from the shared weight of being a woman in this world and doing so with Black skin. It requires maturity and self-esteem. It is necessary for our survival. There is nothing like it and it cannot be contrived or imitated.
Jill and Erykah fostered the environment so effortlessly. Showing up in all of their beauty and uniqueness. Ready to share and receive. They were gentle, loving, patient, and supportive of each other and on top of all of that, showcased the best of their musical catalogs.
It was a magical night. And if you missed it, you MISSED it, but thankfully the internet lives. Catch a replay of the full session below!
I am encouraged to keep fostering this type of sisterhood, love, and acceptance with the Black women in my own life. We all we got!
Ms. Melody Monroe