Erykah Badu’s appearance in the video for “Maiyisha (So Long),” the new single from Everything’s Beautiful, Robert Glasper’s album of “reimagined” Miles Davis tunes, makes you mourn the film career she should have had. Playing the character of Sarah Bellam (one of her many aliases she’s namechecked in concert over the years), Badu – who conceived and directed the clip – serves you a high-strung, oddly accented beatnik diva on the verge of a nervous breakdown. In the clip, a funny, tongue-in-cheek backstage tantrum by Sarah segues into a slinky, retro-cool performance of the song, which Davis originally recorded and released under the title “Maiysah” in 1974. (Badu added new, self-penned lyrics to the song.) It comes full-circle with a profane epilogue.
After Twitter beef with Azealia Banks and, more recently, sparring on social media with fans disappointed in what they saw as Erykah’s advocacy of respectability politics that downplayed male responsibility in sexual harassment, it’s just good to have Erykah remind us why we fell in love with her in the first place.