EVEN ERYKAH BADU admits that explaining Erykah Badu is an exercise. She's wonderfully mystical, incense-lit and occasionally — perhaps purposefully — kooky.
"I love to leave the interpretation of my music up to the listener," the four-time Grammy Award-winning R&B singer told a writer once.
"It's fun to see what they'll say it is."
Then she got all "Erykah" on Yahoo Music's Dave DiMartino and added: "The truth is, there are millions and billions of particles of atomic memory of different things in my music."
See what we mean?
Well, before her first Atlanta performance since the release of her latest CD ("New Amerykah Part One: 4th World War") a few "Baduisms" have cosmically become (kind of) clear, including:
• What she meant by that line in her breakthrough 1997 hit "On & On": "I was born underwater, with three dollars and six dimes," she says in the single. "No that doesn't mean I had money in my hand coming out of the womb," she once joked with the AJC. "That adds up to 360 — 360 degrees. That's completion. I was born with everything I need."
• What she's saying/mumbling in the hook of the Roots' 1999 Grammy winner "You Got Me": "If you were worried 'bout where / I've been or who I saw or / what club I went to with my homies, baby don't worry you know that you got me-ee."
• Where she came up with the names of her two children, Seven and Puma: Both she and Seven's father — Andre "Dre" Benjamin of Atlanta rap duo OutKast — say they chose the name "because it is a divine number," Benjamin explained. "It can't be divided."
As for her daughter, Puma — who she had with gangster rapper the D.O.C. —- she reportedly hasn't clarified that name. All Badu's publicists would tell People magazine when Puma was born was that she wasn't named after the athletic shoe. "Erykah is more down to earth than that," they added.
And in case you were wondering, Erykah Badu isn't her given name. She was born Erica Wright and reportedly changed it to "Erykah" because "kah is the inner self, which can do no wrong, and "Badu" is a tribute to scat singers.
• THE 411: Erykah Badu and the Roots. $45-$100. 8 p.m. May 23 at the Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. 404-249-6400 or www.ticketmaster.com.
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