Erykah Badu is a trendsetter, a progressive beam of light that has challenged norms for nearly 20 years. Her last two albums in the New Amerykah series reinvigorated her career; right when most artists her age began to lose a step.  But You Caint Use My Phone is an interlude leading up to the final installment of New Amerykah, and it is surprisingly one of the strongest projects in her already legendary career.

But You Caint Use My Phone is a mixtape in the truest sense of the word, a loose affair that has her exploring a multitude of styles, from psychedelic funk and soul to trap. Each of Badu’s albums are a deep exploration, but BYCUMP is a her taking a moment to enjoy her craft with freestyle abandon.

The backstory is simple, it was inspired by Drake and recorded in Dallas with an obscure producer Zac Witness. The bones were laid out in 11 days, which worked to her benefit as it prevented her from overthinking. The vibe is steady and the production fresh; a heady batch of analog sounds coupled with elements of trap and boogie. Badu, of course, serving as the unifying force between styles.

Cel U Lar Device” sounds like a chart topper. It careens in and out of a chippy beat, but is mellowed out with the help of a Timmy Thomas sample riffing in the back. Badu keeps in stride with all the glitchy shifts proving her versatility as a lyricist: [LISTEN]

Cel U Lar Device

Badu doesn’t let herself go completely. Her lyrics while mild and freewheeling still explore intense feelings of love and vulnerability, but just when it hits that point of no return she turns it around and hits you in the chest with a heavy boot. She doesn’t have to push as hard like she did with New Amerykah, which can be emotionally exhausting, and this is her letting loose.

On “Dial’Afreaq” she keeps it stern and matter of fact with her speak and spell voice piercing like a voice from above; conjuring up the almighty Funkadelic no doubt: [LISTEN]


BYCUMP is the appetizer before the main course; her stretching her creative legs one last time before embarking on the marathon-like conditions of a studio album. She’s free and unencumbered, and the result is proof that Erykah Badu is an artist for the ages.