When you’re invited to interview Erykah Badu, you drop everything. The “On & On” recording artist begins the Zoom by stating, “As you know, the world is going to end. I’m just kidding.” Paired with a light-hearted laugh.
If there’s one thing about Badu, it’s the fact that she’s always going to show love to her fans — most who have followed her closely and intimately for the past 25 to 26 years. Now, she’s giving back by launching a live quest for fans to find her “forbidden fruits” on the remaining stops of her Unfollow Me Tour, which arrive in the form of apple bongs.
For those who don’t know, the Dallas, Texas native started out as an MC, and her rap name was Apples. It was also her nickname growing up, with childhood friends and family members still calling her Apples to this day. She went on to name her touring company Apple Tree Cafe Touring, and more recently her cannabis line Appletree, in light of her popular song “Appletree.”
Badu states, “Apples have always been important. In the song ‘Appletree’, the lyrics say ‘I pick my friends like I picked my fruit.’ My nanny told me that when I was only a youth. My grandmother told me that bit of advice, it stuck with me and follows me through life. Apples have always been very, very important to me. Important symbols of being organic, because it’s my origins.”
She goes on to reveal she was trying to think of things that could engage the audience, coming up with a quest. “The visuals and everything in my show all have to do with questing,” Badu explains. “Whether it’s plant medicine questing, vision questing, or every day Googling, searching for things. That search has been synonymous with my whole platform this year.”
The virtual press junket simultaneously served as a screening for her new animated short created by Rhymezlikedimez, a Belgium artist whom Badu calls “a cultural staple in animation, known for his shorts in Hip-Hop specifically.” The collaboration is a full circle moment for both parties, with real name Robin Velghe stating Badu is “one of my biggest, favorite artists. I even sampled your music in one of my first songs when I used to make beats.”
The quest kicks off at the New York stop of her tour on July 8th, with Badu planning to hide one of her apple bongs at a secret location. She explains, “We’re going to take a photo and a video of the location, we’ll hide the bong. There will be a QR code sticker on the back of it for the winner who finds it, it will link to what their prize is. Depending on what time they find it, if they find it after the show, then the prize will be different.”
There will be a myriad of different activities to choose from, but the focus remains on the Unfollow Me tour.
“[We] want them to win access to our very intimate Meet & Greet,” Badu continues. “We do that every night, I’m hoping they will find it in time. The prizes are going to be super exciting. One of the prizes is to come on my tour bus with me and hang out. Another is to be able to follow us to the next city. Another is to win tickets for you and your whole group to a show. All of it centers around questing and searching. Our Meet & Greets, that’s our main focus.”
Each day, Badu will do a livestream and authenticate a shiny glass apple, which functions as a bong and later hide it, posting clues on Instagram @unfollowmetour and TikTok @unfollowbadu2023. Once discovered, a QR code will direct questers to a video message from Badu describing their reward.
Let the games begin!