“How about this,” she rhetorically asks as she leans into her screen (and ring light, apparently), “There are tiiiiiimes when you need someone/I will be byyyyy your siiiiide/There is a light/That shines/Special for yooouuuu aaaand meeeee.”
This is how Jill Scott ended the epic – I don’t use this word lightly – Verzuz battle between her and Erykah Badu in the wee hours of Sunday morning (in South Africa). She sang these classic Bobby Caldwell lyrics after Erykah asked her to have the last word and close the battle that had lasted over three hours. Badu said: “You have such a prolific way with words. I would love for you to bless us. Sage us with something.”
Sage. Us. With. Something.
Man, there isn’t one thing about that battle that didn’t feel like a blessing and a gift to me and, I know, to many other people across the globe. Ok, maybe there is one thing: how come Jill didn’t play Golden?!
This battle was repeatedly angled as a celebration by and of both artists. And it was a salve for the soul. And I’m not talking about a genre here. I won’t speak for everyone but for me, Level 4 of lockdown is showing me the type of flames I thought I would see in Level 5 but didn’t.
At this level, I am thinking a lot about how to use my relationship with music to uplift myself and others. I am thinking about how words – and lyrics in this case – can change lives or at the very least, give someone the second wind to keep going in a world that may not even be here tomorrow.
I am also thinking about how (black) women friendships in this time and others are, to quote Darius Lovehall, “urgent like a motherfcuker.” That those friendships are even sweeter when the world has tried to pit you against each other. If the fact that Erykah and Jill spoke about how people don’t know they are actual friends didn’t give you an idea, then when Erykah asked Jill to sage us should have made it obvious there is a familial trust between them.
Then Jill, without skipping a beat, sang those words that mean a whole lot more than what a certain generation identifies as a Common song.
I will be by your side.
And to remind her, and us, that there is a light that shines for more than the individual. I certainly have women I am honoured to call friends who are by my side, as I am by theirs. In Level 4 and beyond. And watching Erykah and Jill made me all the more grateful for them.
Did you watch Jill and Erykah’s Verzuz? Tell me what you thought in the comments.
PS: You can click HERE to read my interview with Jill Scott from years ago.