CD Review – Erykah Badu “Worldwide Underground”

Erykah Badu
Worldwide Underground

The ladylove of R&B/soul is back to reclaim her spot on her harmonious throne and show the masses that music is the lifeblood making the world go round.

Using the same tools that made her ’97 release, Baduism, a fundamental component of any musical collection, Badu embarks on an urban safari. She seeks to convey feelings on issues ranging from politics to family break downs to her love for hip hop. The Dallas native’s recently released EP, Worldwide Underground, is masterfully created and packed full of quality musical ingredients that make for a wholesome symphonic potluck.

From the very first vibrancy-filled chime on the album’s intro track, Badu readies listeners to receive her craft. The first song, “Bump It,” swirls with soul as Badu sings lyrics that float like the creamy vapors of burning Nag Champa incense. This song, which expresses Badu’s relationship with her music, sets the mood for the rest of the album as Badu sings, “Push up the fader/ Bust the meter/ Shake the tweeter/ Bump it — well, well, well.” After a three-minute African beat-drum colada, “Bump it” smoothly flows into the reminiscent track “Back in the Day.”

Underground continues to soulfully stay on course with tracks like “I Want You” and “Think Twice.” However, under Badu’s soft skin lies a brooding revolutionary and an active visionary.

“Steady on the Grind,” which features Dead Prez, momentarily changes the album’s tempo, addressing poverty in the urban community. Though “Grind” is quite tame for DP’s M-1 and Sticman, they convey the message clearly and with minimal expletives while Badu carries the background vocals.

Badu seems to build off the tune’s energy, fueling one of the best beat infused tracks on the album. “Danger (Other Side of the Game Pt.2 / Block on Lock)” houses the only true exhibit of Badu’s lyrical prowess on Underground.

The song picks up where Baduism’s “Other Side of the Game” left off and creates an uncommon union between the frantic pace of a quick piano riff and the gruff hum of trumpet notes.

While Underground’s tracks share no intentional cohesion (besides the fade-ins between them and their laid-back nature), the addition of “Love of My Life Worldwide” alters the mood of the album.

It quickly switches from a mid-evening ambient soundtrack showcase to a Disney hip-hop celebration. Save for this track, Badu delivers.

Despite the concrete lyrical wizardry Badu has come to be known for, Worldwide Underground is a “Music for Dummies” for R&B artists.

The meticulous crafting of each song will captivate audiences and show why Badu may very well be our generation’s Nina Simone with a hip-hop twang.