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R&B - Released January 1, 1997 | Universal Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Two years after D'Angelo brought the organic sound and emotional passion of R&B to the hip-hop world with 1995's Brown Sugar, Erykah Badu's debut performed a similar feat. While D'Angelo looked back to the peak of smooth '70s soul, though, Badu sang with a grit and bluesiness reminiscent of her heroes, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. "On & On" and "Appletree," the first two songs on Baduizm, illustrated her talent at singing soul with the qualities of jazz. With a nimble, melodic voice owing little to R&B from the past 30 years, she phrased at odds with the beat and often took chances with her notes. Like many in the contemporary rap world, though, she also had considerable talents at taking on different personas; "Otherside of the Game" is a poetic lament from a soon-to-be single mother who just can't forget the father of her child. Erykah Badu's revolution in sound -- heavier hip-hop beats over organic, conscientious soul music -- was responsible for her breakout, but many of the songs on Baduizm don't hold up to increased examination. For every intriguing track like "Next Lifetime," there's at least one rote R&B jam like "4 Leaf Clover." Jazz fans certainly weren't confusing her with Cassandra Wilson -- Badu had a bewitching voice, and she treasured her notes like the best jazz vocalists, but she often made the same choices, the hallmark of a singer rooted in soul, not jazz. Though many fans would dislike (and probably misinterpret) the comparison, she's closer to Diana Ross playing Billie Holiday -- as she did in the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues -- than Holiday herself. © John Bush /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 2009 | Motown

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Return of the Ankh was supposed to be issued earlier than March 2010. It's just as well: 2008's stupefying 4th World War provided such a dense concentration of charged lyrics over ceaselessly vein-melting production work that Erykah Badu could have been forgiven for letting five years pass prior to unveiling something else to soak up. Return of the Ankh is a relief in that Badu does not attempt to trump herself with a set that is even more intense and powerful than its predecessor. Thematically, it's aligned with 4th World War's relatively lighter songs, "Me" and "Honey," more personal than planetary, less challenging sonically and lyrically. Most of it was actually recorded at the same time as 4th World War. The list of collaborators, featuring Georgia Anne Muldrow, Madlib, Shafiq Husayn, Dilla, James Poyser, Ahmir Thompson, and Karriem Riggins, is similar, yet the makeup is drastically different, designed for instant kicked-back enjoyment. A pause, deep breath, and a "Here we go" is not required prior to putting it on. Instead, we get Badu playing around, in the best possible way, with sample-rooted songs like "Turn Me Away (Get Munny)" (a twist on Sylvia Striplin's "You Can't Turn Me Away" and the 1995 hip-hop anthem that sampled it, Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s "Get Money"), "Gone Baby, Don't Be Long" (a slightly silly new-love song that reworks Paul McCartney's "Arrow Through Me"), and "Umm Hmm" (its optimism reflected in that of its backbone, Ndugu & the Chocolate Jam Company's Earth, Wind & Fire-like "Take Some Time"). Though the album is so rich with sample-reliant songs that it sometimes resembles a glorified mixtape, a couple standouts were made from scratch. "Window Seat" should appeal to those who have wanted Badu to revisit that lissome sound of Baduizm songs like "On & On" and "Otherside of the Game," and it packs stunning stomp-and-clap breakdowns that sync up with Badu's most halting lines: "I need you to want me/I need you to miss me/I need your attention/I need you next to me." "Out My Mind, Just in Time" is a ten-minute finale that traces a trajectory of heartache across three movements, beginning innocently enough with a devotional (if pained and humorous) piano ballad that shifts into Muldrow's psychedelic, slow-motion soul-jazz as Badu gets increasingly fragmentary and tripped-out. By the end, she is renewed: "Finally I got a leading role/Introducing Super Dope/Starring in her episode/Hello new world/Out my mind." Actual next level, as always. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1997 | Kedar

Conventional wisdom dictates that an artist should not release a live album as her second record, especially if it follows the debut by a matter of months. However, Erykah Badu is not a conventional artist and Live is not a conventional live album. While her debut, Baduizm, earned strong reviews and healthy sales, her concerts became equally popular and she became known as a powerhouse live performer. Live solidifies that reputation, delivering soulful, gritty versions of cuts from Baduizm, a few covers, and the spectacular new single, "Tyrone." Not only does it illustrate the depths of Badu's talents, but Live is as strong and captivating as Baduizm. © Leo Stanley /TiVo
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R&B - Released January 1, 2007 | Motown (Kedar)

Two years after D'Angelo brought the organic sound and emotional passion of R&B to the hip-hop world with 1995's Brown Sugar, Erykah Badu's debut performed a similar feat. While D'Angelo looked back to the peak of smooth '70s soul, though, Badu sang with a grit and bluesiness reminiscent of her heroes, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. "On & On" and "Appletree," the first two songs on Baduizm, illustrated her talent at singing soul with the qualities of jazz. With a nimble, melodic voice owing little to R&B from the past 30 years, she phrased at odds with the beat and often took chances with her notes. Like many in the contemporary rap world, though, she also had considerable talents at taking on different personas; "Otherside of the Game" is a poetic lament from a soon-to-be single mother who just can't forget the father of her child. Erykah Badu's revolution in sound -- heavier hip-hop beats over organic, conscientious soul music -- was responsible for her breakout, but many of the songs on Baduizm don't hold up to increased examination. For every intriguing track like "Next Lifetime," there's at least one rote R&B jam like "4 Leaf Clover." Jazz fans certainly weren't confusing her with Cassandra Wilson -- Badu had a bewitching voice, and she treasured her notes like the best jazz vocalists, but she often made the same choices, the hallmark of a singer rooted in soul, not jazz. Though many fans would dislike (and probably misinterpret) the comparison, she's closer to Diana Ross playing Billie Holiday -- as she did in the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues -- than Holiday herself. © John Bush /TiVo
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R&B - Released February 26, 2007 | Motown

Downplayed and practically disregarded as it was, 2003's Worldwide Underground was an excellent and brave follow-up to 2000's Mama's Gun. Erykah Badu concedes she had nothing to say at the time -- the loose 50-minute "EP" was more about sounds than statements -- but she evidently holds herself to a high standard. Perhaps that streak was a factor in her protracted silence from its release to New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War; she even thought she might be through with making music. Her creative energy returned at some point, and then some, with this set apparently just the first in a series of releases. Varied and layered, New Amerykah, Pt. 1 has Badu collaborating principally with the members of Sa-Ra (who are present in almost half of the tracks), Madlib, 9th Wonder, and Baduizm/Mama's Gun vets Karriem Riggins, James Poyser, and Ahmir Thompson. If you're familiar with what these people have made in the past, you'll know to expect plenty of fearless weirdness and a couple relaxed soul-jazz backdrops that do not fail to stimulate. The album is easily the most hip-hop and most out-there release from Badu thus far, with beats bumping, knocking, and booming in roughly equal measure, sometimes switching tacks or vanishing midstream, dropping down dark corridors, gradually levitating into direct sunlight. Lyrically, there's much to digest: in the ghostly-mystical "The Healer," Badu proclaims hip-hop to be bigger than religion and government; both "That Hump" and "The Cell" are vivid depictions of drug dependency; "Soldier" gives a shout to the Nation of Islam, addresses Katrina and black-on-black crime, and sends out a warning ("Now to folks that think they livin' sweet/They gone fuck around and push 'delete'"); "Twinkle" evokes a lot of thought with few words, alluding to the various failures of the U.S. health, education, and prison systems, and the negative and cyclical effects they've had on Badu's people. Though this is another album where you can only wonder how different it would be with some input from the late J Dilla, the beloved producer gets an incredibly touching tribute with the eight-minute "Telephone," written the day after the ceremony of his death. Indeed, no listed song is light in sentiment, which must partially explain why the beaming single "Honey" is included as an unlisted track -- it doesn't fit into the album's fabric, what with its drifting, deeply sweetened, synth-squish-and-string-drift groove. Immediately moving and yet rather bewildering, New Amerykah, Pt. 1 is an album that sounds special from the first play, yet it will probably take years before it is known just how special it is. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Soul - Released November 27, 2015 | Erykah Badu

Prompted by Drake's "Hotling Bling," Erykah Badu quickly recorded this loose, phone-themed mixtape, an official Motown release, with help from producer and fellow Dallas dweller Zach Witness. It's a trivial if fun diversion. Badu puts her spin on "Hotline Bling," quotes "Tyrone," and appends a "ghost of Screw" mix of "Telephone" to one of the low-slung new tracks. Original content is greatly outweighed by covers of songs originally recorded by New Edition, Usher, Egyptian Lover, and Todd Rundgren (via the Isley Brothers). Appearances from a Drake soundalike, Aubrey "Itsroutine" Davis, add to the mixtape's peculiarity. André 3000 joins in on the Rundgren cover, while Seven Benjamin, his and Badu's son, picks up a co-writing credit on the eighth track. © Andy Kellman /TiVo

Soul - Released November 27, 2015 | Erykah Badu

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Prompted by Drake's "Hotling Bling," Erykah Badu quickly recorded this loose, phone-themed mixtape, an official Motown release, with help from producer and fellow Dallas dweller Zach Witness. It's a trivial if fun diversion. Badu puts her spin on "Hotline Bling," quotes "Tyrone," and appends a "ghost of Screw" mix of "Telephone" to one of the low-slung new tracks. Original content is greatly outweighed by covers of songs originally recorded by New Edition, Usher, Egyptian Lover, and Todd Rundgren (via the Isley Brothers). Appearances from a Drake soundalike, Aubrey "Itsroutine" Davis, add to the mixtape's peculiarity. André 3000 joins in on the Rundgren cover, while Seven Benjamin, his and Badu's son, picks up a co-writing credit on the eighth track. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2000 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Since the arrival of Erykah Badu onto the neo-soul scene back in 1997 with Baduizm, commercial music stood up and took notice with an onslaught of similar artists reaching comparable peaks of mainstream success. After taking some time off for introspection and to raise her son, Badu returned with Mama's Gun, which is a turning point for her in many ways. Gone are the cryptic "Baduizms" that glossed all over her first release, replaced with a more honestly raw Badu singing directly from her heart rather than her head. Sonically, Badu wades out into adventurous territories as well. From the Jimi Hendrix-inspired opening number to the closing ten-minute song suite, she develops fresh aspects of her sound, employing artists such as legendary jazz vibraphonist Roy Ayers, jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove, Stephen Marley, and Roots drummer ?uestlove; she sought after producer Jay Dee as well. The results are consistently tasteful, which only helps to prove once again that Badu is miles ahead of the rest. © Rob Theakston /TiVo
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Soul - Released June 3, 2019 | Yep Roc Records

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Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Motown (Kedar)

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. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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R&B - Released January 1, 2000 | UNI - MOTOWN

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R&B - Released January 1, 1997 | UNI - MOTOWN

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R&B - Released March 1, 2001 | UNI - MOTOWN

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R&B - Released January 1, 1997 | UNI - MOTOWN

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released August 5, 2003 | UNI - MOTOWN

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released June 1, 2006 | Spilt Milk Da Label

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R&B - Released January 1, 1997 | UNI - MOTOWN

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Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Motown (Kedar)

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R&B - Released January 1, 1997 | UNI - MOTOWN

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R&B - Released February 26, 2008 | Motown

Downplayed and practically disregarded as it was, 2003's Worldwide Underground was an excellent and brave follow-up to 2000's Mama's Gun. Erykah Badu concedes she had nothing to say at the time -- the loose 50-minute "EP" was more about sounds than statements -- but she evidently holds herself to a high standard. Perhaps that streak was a factor in her protracted silence from its release to New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War; she even thought she might be through with making music. Her creative energy returned at some point, and then some, with this set apparently just the first in a series of releases. Varied and layered, New Amerykah, Pt. 1 has Badu collaborating principally with the members of Sa-Ra (who are present in almost half of the tracks), Madlib, 9th Wonder, and Baduizm/Mama's Gun vets Karriem Riggins, James Poyser, and Ahmir Thompson. If you're familiar with what these people have made in the past, you'll know to expect plenty of fearless weirdness and a couple relaxed soul-jazz backdrops that do not fail to stimulate. The album is easily the most hip-hop and most out-there release from Badu thus far, with beats bumping, knocking, and booming in roughly equal measure, sometimes switching tacks or vanishing midstream, dropping down dark corridors, gradually levitating into direct sunlight. Lyrically, there's much to digest: in the ghostly-mystical "The Healer," Badu proclaims hip-hop to be bigger than religion and government; both "That Hump" and "The Cell" are vivid depictions of drug dependency; "Soldier" gives a shout to the Nation of Islam, addresses Katrina and black-on-black crime, and sends out a warning ("Now to folks that think they livin' sweet/They gone fuck around and push 'delete'"); "Twinkle" evokes a lot of thought with few words, alluding to the various failures of the U.S. health, education, and prison systems, and the negative and cyclical effects they've had on Badu's people. Though this is another album where you can only wonder how different it would be with some input from the late J Dilla, the beloved producer gets an incredibly touching tribute with the eight-minute "Telephone," written the day after the ceremony of his death. Indeed, no listed song is light in sentiment, which must partially explain why the beaming single "Honey" is included as an unlisted track -- it doesn't fit into the album's fabric, what with its drifting, deeply sweetened, synth-squish-and-string-drift groove. Immediately moving and yet rather bewildering, New Amerykah, Pt. 1 is an album that sounds special from the first play, yet it will probably take years before it is known just how special it is. © Andy Kellman /TiVo