Halfway through the languid midtempo ballad "Send It On" from D'Angelo's new sophomore effort, Voodoo, the young retro-soul maestro and band shift tempo and melody. It's a move so understatedly dramatic that it elicits comparisons not just to obvious touchstones Marvin Gaye and Al Green, but to the Jimi Hendrix of Axis: Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland. While Voodoo is hardly in a league with such major statements, it's a record inviting enough to attract repeated plays of its 78-minute length. As on his 1995 debut, Brown Sugar, D'Angelo covers a wide range of concerns--sex, home cooking, the destructive side of current street life--in a deceptively offhand manner. But he's a crafty craftsman: even a throwaway workout like "Chicken Grease" is blessed not only with a slinky groove and a guitar lick that deserves to be called just that, but bursts of Gaye-style vocal harmonies; the whole track, for all its retro flavor, ends up sounding like nothing else around. Throw in the blasts of anger that fire "Devil's Pie," the restatement of Bono's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" in "Greatdayindamornin'," and the complete takeover of Roberta Flack's "Feel Like Makin' Love," and Voodoo proves one jam that was well worth the nearly five-year wait. --Rickey Wright
Known for her delicate, soulful vocals, Erykah Badu has 2 Grammyâ„¢ awards and 2 multi-platinum records to her credit. "Mama's Gun" is the third album for this talented singer/songwriter from Dallas, and features the hit single "Bag Lady." Includes: - Penitentiary Philosophy - Didn't Cha Know - My Life - ... & On - Cleva - Hey Sugah - Booty - Kiss Me On My Neck - A.D. 2000 - Orange Moon - In Love With You - Bag Lady - Time's A Wastin - Green Eyes A true tour de force, Mama's Gun is that rare sophomore album that shows a maturing artist at her best. Erykah Badu's voice was always her main attraction--its unique sound has been compared to Billie Holiday and Chaka Khan. Here, it's her skill with that voice that shines. Badu shapes her instrument to suit her material (all of it written or cowritten by her). A full range is represented: On faster, danceable tracks like "Penitentiary Philosophy" and "Booty," she sounds gritty and funky. On softer, more introspective tracks, like "A.D. 2000" and the single "Bag Lady," she shows amazing restraint, letting her voice travel lightly over the notes, allowing the songs' emotions to guide her performance. The high point of the disc is Badu's duet with Stephen Marley, "In Love with You," easily the sweetest, truest love song of the year. That alone is reason enough to buy the disc--and you won't regret having done so. --Courtney Kemp
Vinyl LP. Blending hip-hop with traditional soul and jazz vocal stylings, Erykah Badu took the music world by storm with her first album "Baduizm" in 1997. Politically and socially engaged, Badu drew comparisons to Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. "Baduizm" rose all the way to #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart, also scoring a big hit with the song "On & On." Badu won the Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance on that song. Better yet, "Baduizm" won the Grammy for Best R&B Album. Warmed by the completeness of reproduction on vinyl, Erykah sounds her best on this LP.
BADU ERIKAH BADUIZM Badu and her large turban appeared out of nowhere in early 1997, on a murmuring, romantic album that trod the median between old-school soul and contemporary electronic R&B. Badu's songs, especially the hit "On & On" and the catchy "Certainly," recall Sade in their polished, subtle sexiness. Badu almost never raises her voice--save the occasional "ooh-wee!" exultation--but she skillfully uses repetition and chanting to empower her words. Later portraying a beautiful swamp queen, she was one of the only good things about the movie Blues Brothers 2000. --Steve Knopper
Vinyl LP. Erykah Badu considers this R&B record, "Worldwide Underground," an EP, but it is longer than most full LPs. More of a jam session release than an album of singles, Erykah gives writing and production credit to her supergroup she calls Freakquency. She's joined by stars such as Queen Latifah, Lenny Kravitz, Angie Stone, Donald Byrd and many others. It is an easy album to love, and just kick on and groove. With hits such as "Back in the Day (Puff)" and "Danger," "Worldwide Underground" climbed all the way up to #3 on the Billboard 200 in 2003.