Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Erykah Badu

  • Baduizm [Universal, 1997] *
  • Live [Universal, 1997] **
  • Mama's Gun [Universal, 2000] A
  • Worldwide Underground [Motown, 2003] ***
  • New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War) [Universal/Motown, 2008] ***
  • New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh [Universal/Motown, 2010] **
  • You Caint Use My Phone [self-released, 2015] **

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Baduizm [Universal, 1997]
for one thing, Billie didn't write her own material ("Rimshot," "Afro") *

Live [Universal, 1997]
knew about the technique, glad about the personality, still waiting on the content ("Tyrone," "Stay") **

Mama's Gun [Universal, 2000]
Ms. Badu-to-you could have ridden her photogenic witchy-rootsy ambience/attitude down a flexigroove to iconicity. Instead she determined to rise up, doing for her songcraft what D'Angelo did for his funk. From "Here's my philosophy/We're living in a penitentiary" to "My eyes are green/Because I eat a lot of vegetables," she scores over and over on 14-tracks-in-72-minutes that miss maybe twice and only seem long-winded when she gives the flautist some. Maybe her sources are autobiographical, but she's here to inspire all black-identified women and the men who admire them. On "Cleva," she predicts you'll love her for her mind as her ninnies sag; on "Booty," she pulls more good stuff with her G.E.D. than you can with your Ph.D. And to prove how smart she is once and for all, she accentchuates her word power with structures, arrangements, hooks, the works. A

Worldwide Underground [Motown, 2003]
If Andre can sing-song hip-hop, so can his babymama ("Love of My Life Worldwide," "Danger"). ***

New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War) [Universal/Motown, 2008]
When your funk is this futuristic, not to say abstract, astrology and Farrakhan sound old, not to say ignorant ("The Cell," "Amerykahn Promise"). ***

New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh [Universal/Motown, 2010]
Love may be a groove, but that doesn't make a groove a love song ("Turn Me Away [Get Munny]," "Gone Baby, Don't Be Long"). **

You Caint Use My Phone [self-released, 2015]
This free concept mini isn't the armed takedown of the distraction engine we need, but it's good to have those bee statistics out in memeland. ("Dial'Afreaq," "Hello") **