Erykah Badu is known foremost for her mesmerizing, cutting-edge R&B. I put her recent album New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) in my top ten for last year, and it's just one of her many groundbreaking works.
She also has children with some of hip-hop's best and brightest, and is raising at her Dallas home three kids: 13-year-old Seven, a boy whose pops is Andre 3000, 2-year-old Mars, her daughter with Jay Electronica, and 7-year-old girl Puma, whose dad is D.O.C. (Badu dated Common, but they don't have any kids together.)
I reported these details in my recent feature story on D.O.C., the legendary Dallas-native ghostwriter who has been summoned by Dr. Dre to help save Detox. The piece mainly focused on D.O.C.'s hip-hop career, the accident that robbed him of his voice, and his work with Dre. But it also explored D.O.C.'s relationship with Badu, the nature of which was somewhat ambiguous. He told me he lived with her part time, remained in love with her, and had an idea for a reality show to be filmed at her house.
"I keep telling Erykah we need to get this reality thing poppin' off," he said. "Maybe we'll get us a reality show, and at the end of it, we'll get married or something."
As noted by Dallas Observer music editor Pete Freedman, his comments seemed a bit naive. For one thing, Badu doesn't appear interested in settling down. For another, she's quite private about her personal life. In fact, I spent about a month trying to get her to talk about D.O.C. — to confirm the things he was telling me — but she declined. "Erykah doesn't usually talk about her private relationships with the fathers of her children," her manager Paul Levatino wrote me in an email.
Only, it turns out that's not always the case. After my story was published, Badu threw cold water on D.O.C.'s ideas for the wedding and the reality show, in the form of a statement released to Dallas Observer, our sister paper who reprinted the story.
Erykah Badu and The D.O.C. share parental responsibilities for their daughter and their relationship as it regards that aim is very good. However, that is the full extent of their personal involvement and no romantic dynamic exists between the two. Moreover, Erykah has no plans to marry or have any sort of courtship with the D.O.C. Ms. Badu has no plans to allow a reality show to be filmed in her private Dallas residence or to include any of her children in the filming...The D.O.C.'s comments were either taken out of context, improperly interpreted, or reflective of his now, not-so-secret desires. Whatever the case, Erykah wishes D.O.C. well both spiritually and professionally.
In a subsequent email to me, Levatino further decried D.O.C. for "giving false statements and publically describing where she lives - that was fucked up." (My story quotes D.O.C. saying that she lives in a "beautiful house right off of a really nice body of water," and Freedman identified the expanse as White Rock Lake in the Observer's reprint because, well, it's the only lake in Dallas proper.)
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Maybe it is fucked up. After all, Badu has faced stalkers before. Still, it's not like anyone would be able to track her down from the information D.O.C. gave. And further, I would say that his love for her — and fantasy about getting married — is more sweet than nefarious.
Also, Badu herself is partly to blame for all of this. Had she agreed to let me interview her in the first place, she could have cleared all of this up beforehand. It's a bit disingenuous to imply that we got something wrong (which we didn't, by the way), after she herself was the reason we couldn't get the whole story.
I can understand that Badu doesn't want the intimate details of her home life in the media. But she also knows that, having coupled with four famous rappers, her fans and the public are bound to be curious about her private life. When it comes to spinning the media — which it's clear that both she and D.O.C. were attempting to do — an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure.