Erykah Badu – Baduizm (1997): Review

To continually refer to Erykah Badu as a Billie Holliday clone does her a disservice. When one is told that a new artist sounds just like one of the most important and influential singers of modern contemporary jazz music then generally ones hopes are built, only to be dashed by the fact that the music bears no resemblance to Billie Holliday, and from then the negatives start to grow and a fair and honest judgement of the performance becomes nigh on impossible. How many times have we all heard “These are the new Beatles” ?

Erykah Badu bravely braces the bridge between 70s soul, R&B, the slightest jazz inflection all set to bellowing bass and hip hop beats, self composed and originally performed. Her 1997 debut “Baduizm” is slick, sparse, and although Badu isn’t a belting high octave singer like a Mariah Carey or even Mary J. Blige, her voice is sweet and welcoming and fits perfectly with the mood of the music. Her best performances come on the single “Next Lifetime”, which interestingly shows Badu committed to a relationship, but falling in love with someone else with lyrics that convey the difficulty she has convincing the lover (and herself) that what they are doing isn’t right. “Other Side Of The Game” tells of Badu and her partner, a man on the wrong side of the tracks, re-considering his career in crime and how although she has enjoyed the rich fruits borne to her, realizes that it must come to an end. In addition to these superb tracks “Rimshot” with its ultra cool groove, and “On And On” which was also released as a single stand as top class performances.

The one minor criticism of the album is that it is one paced, and sometimes lacks some inventive musical dimension and rhythm. There are some clever jazz chord progressions, but these may have sounded more interesting on a variety of instruments rather than just keyboards.

That said, “Baduizm” is still an excellent debut, and for the record, Erykah Badu is NOT the new Billie Holliday; she is the new Erykah Badu.

8/10

1 Rimshot (Intro) 1:56
2 On & On 3:45
3 Appletree 4:25
4 Other Side of the Game 6:33
5 Sometimes (Mix #9) 0:44
6 Next Lifetime 6:26
7 Afro (Freestyle Skit) 2:04
8 Certainly 4:43
9 4 Leaf Clover 4:34
10 No Love 5:08
11 Drama 6:02
12 Sometimes… 4:10
13 Certainly (Flipped It) 5:26
14 Rimshot (Outro) 2:19

On & On

Other Side Of The Game

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