A very different kind of vibe today, as we melt into some low-fi R&B with the debut album from Erykah Badu, “Baduizm”. Well received, this album is the #89 rated album on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. My first reaction was that she reminded me of an up-and-coming act I saw last year in concert, but then I read about a comparison to Billie Holiday, and there is a lot of similarity there as well.
As we listened yesterday, it was instantly evident this is great music to relax to, and I would definitely consider this evening mood music. As I read up on the production and creation of this record, it doesn’t surprise me that she collaborated with Questlove and The Roots on some of the music, and she also had done some work with D’Angelo. All of that noted, Erykah was the primary creative force on this album as co-songwriter, producer and singer and other instruments as well.
There were four singles released from the album, and they picked some good ones. My absolute favorite is the saucy track, “Appletree”. It is a great blend of attitude and melody. “On & On” is ultra-chill, and a perfect relaxation song. The same could be said for “Otherside of the Game”, which is one of the tracks featuring Questlove and The Roots. “Next Lifetime” is a seductive slow-jam that really showcases her depth and vocal range, and is a great example of feminine strength, beauty and talent.
Some of the tracks on the back end of the album cross the R&B threshold for me, where it pivots from low-key to high-end riffing, and as is usually the case, that is not my favorite element of this genre. If I’m here for relaxation and peace, the riffing just feels out of place and disruptive, even as it comes from amazing vocalists like Badu. I recognize the apparent hypocrisy of this mindset when I also thrive on the vocal histrionics of singers like early Robert Plant, but I guess the difference is that I don’t put on “Immigrant Song” to lower my pulse and blood pressure.
Overall, just a great album and a record I really enjoyed, particularly knowing I probably never would have taken the time to listen to this if it were not for this experience.