Home Read Classic Album Review: Erykah Badu | Worldwide Underground

Classic Album Review: Erykah Badu | Worldwide Underground

Call it an EP, an album or whatever else you like — I just call it Badu's latest gem.


This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


It sure looks like a new Erykah Badu album. But in the liner notes, the eclectic hip-hop soul sistah refers to Worldwide Underground as an EP.

That could be because the disc is only 50 minutes long, which is admittedly slight by contemporary hip-hop standards. Or perhaps because once you subtract the intro and outro tracks, the disc only has eight cuts. Really, though, the reason Worldwide Underground qualifies as an EP and not an album seems not based on the number or length of its tracks but their content. Most of these earthy, incense-scented tunes are free-wheeling, open-ended cuts whose groovecentric nature, organic evolution and loose arrangements suggest they’re closer to elaborate demos or studio experiments than bona fide songs. Which is not to say they’re disappointing in the least. The eight-minute Bump It slowly progresses from a smouldering low-funk groove to an a cappella echoscape; centrepiece I Want You is an epic 11-minute trip between neo-soul, downtown jazz and avant-electro; Think Twice finds Badu charting a course somewhere between Billie Holiday and Norah Jones; and the snappy Love of My Live Worldwide borrows a “ring, ding, dong” refrain from Dr. Dre. So call it an EP or an album or anything you want — I just call it the latest gem from Erykah Badu.


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