Erykah Badu is awash in creative energy. She conjures the stuff from thin air, whipping up hooks and melodies with little more than a basic backing track. Think soulful freestyle riffs and lyrics punctuated by the boom and clack of a jazzy drum kit. Yet even a steady stream of creativity like Badu’s can be diverted—for days, weeks, months, or years. In fact, five years passed without a new Badu album. Some said she had writer’s block. Some said she had lost her groove. Turns out the vibe was alive the whole time—it simply needed a new channel to flow into.