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Worldwide Underground

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Album Review

The so-called "EP" that will make many Erykah Badu skeptics wonder what's going on is actually 15 minutes longer than What's Going On. Why would any musician want to call a recording of such length — 50 minutes, to be precise — an EP? The fact that Worldwide Underground is being referred to as an EP makes it apparent that it isn't intended to be considered the true follow-up to Mama's Gun. You also find out throughout the course of the disc that the loose, spare arrangements aren't likely to generate a stream of tidy, four-minute Top Ten hits. As easy as the disc is to slide into, it's far and away the least commercial R&B release of the year. Written, produced, and performed by Freakquency — a seemingly ad hoc group consisting of Badu, James Poyser, Rashad "Ringo" Smith, and R.C. Williams — along with a revolving door of guests, the whole thing goes down more like a weekend jam session than an endlessly labored-over, polished project. For the most part, this is a good thing. Both "Bump It" and "I Want You" are over eight minutes in length, leaving plenty of space to establish relaxed atmospheres that are built on uncomplicated rhythms, twinkling keyboards, and vaporous textures. "Back in the Day (Puff)" and "Danger" are the two most single-oriented tracks; the former's essentially a more filled-out version of one of the extended pieces in miniature form, while the latter is the toughest sounding of the whole batch, with punchy, synthetic horn jabs and Badu's most animated vocal. A new version of "Love of My Life" caps off the disc in fine, fun style, with Badu paying tribute to the all-female, old-school trio Sequence, with the help of Angie Stone, Bahamadia, and Queen Latifah. If Worldwide Underground isn't to be taken as seriously as Baduizm and Mama's Gun, so be it; but it only goes to show how apprehensive the powers that be are in allowing their platinum artists to deviate from what's expected.

Customer Reviews

Don't settle for this incomplete download...

The CD is 5 stars...iTunes gets the deduction, though: what a shame that the entire album is missing from iTunes! The track "I Want You" is a lengthy one, but one of the sexiest songs about longing that I've ever heard. Like most of Badu's work, I can listen to her songs over and over, year after year, and find myself loving them more and appreciating her exquisite talent more. It's worth purchasing all of her recordings to get the full on work, for unlike most one-hit-wonder artists these days, her tracks kick big ol' bootie from the beginning to the end.

Badu Gets 5 Stars...iTunes does NOT!!

I won't lie: Worldwide Underground is a definite departure from the style seen on her debut Baduizm and the follow-up Mama's Gun. And while I'm at it, I will say that in the past 20 years, Erykah is one of FEW artists who is able to drop consistent albums...all three of which are easily listenable ALL the way through :::gasp:::. I know, right? Who does that anymore?? Back to WorldWide Underground: I loved it. Especially tracks 1-5. Sadly, iTunes eff's up completely, as it seems to have missed out on the BEST SONG on the album. As one poster put it "the sexiest songs about longing" - I Want You is indeed. Why iTunes miffed this, is beyond me. Go get the full album.

Badu nation is in effect!!!!

I don't mean to be a groupie, but I think its a little too late. Listening to a Badu album is kinda like being with that special honey who has a certain quality that you just can't describe. Worldwide is a throwback album, reminiscent of times when artists didn't mind taking chances, had something to say and understood the meaning of the word "deep". The CD plays like one long jam. Light some incense, grab your favorite vice, and groove. It's a Badu thang.


Born: February 26, 1971 in Dallas, TX

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

She grew up listening to '70s soul and '80s hip-hop, but Erykah Badu drew more comparisons to Billie Holiday upon her breakout in 1997, after the release of her first album, Baduizm. The grooves and production on the album are bass-heavy R&B, but Badu's languorous, occasionally tortured vocals and delicate phrasing immediately removed her from the legion of cookie-cutter female R&B singers. A singer/songwriter responsible for all but...
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