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Erykah Badu Worldwide Underground Review

Album. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

in Worldwide Underground she rightly reclaims her place upon the throne. No one else...

Lewis Dene 2003

When this Nubian goddess first burst forth six years ago the music press, for once, were unanimous. Here was a major new artist who would help redefine modern R&B; it was a big billing to live up to.

A succession of hit singles, a brace of acclaimed albums and a number of credible, and highly successful, guest appearances have lead us to where we are now - the arrival of Texan gal Erica Wright's third opus.

Living up to the acclaim of her five million selling debut Baduism was never going to be an easy task. Four Grammy Awards only added to the expectations. We shouldn't have worried, in Worldwide Underground she has achieved a far more rounded and accessible set then her sophomore collection, Mama's Gun.

Badu describes her latest album as the "struggle on a good day", a somewhat harsh self-assessment. This is the Badu that we've grown to love and trust; pure 100% uncut, uncompromising R&B that touches on folk, jazz, blues and hip-hop. No one does eclectic in quite the same style.

Reunited with her production team, Freakaquency,the formula is a trusted and familiar one. "Danger", the first single, is typical of this -oozing soulful sophistication with profound lyrical interplay and beats that would make the Neptunes proud. The abstract wordology is particularly evident on the albums opener, "Bump It". "Push up the fader/bust the meter/shake the tweeter" she sings atop an eighties embellished groove.

Guests are plenty: Lenny Kravitz plays guitar on the smooth and assured "Back In The Day"; Dead Prez drops science on the meatier "The Grind" and Queen Latifah, Angie Stone and Bahamadia lend their vocal support to "Love Of My Life Worldwide".

Since Erykah set the standard with Baduism her crown has been passed between a succession of contemporaries, in Worldwide Underground she rightly reclaims her place upon the throne. No one else comes close.

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