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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on June 3, 2004
I first heard this CD at a friend's house one afternoon and RAN out to buy it that very same day. This is hands down my favorite CD this year. It's not often I find an album I can listen to over and over again from beginning to end. EVERY SINGLE TRACK IS HOT!
The intro draws you in with it's silky sexiness and comes to a crescendo after which Miss Erykah invites you to "Bump It" (which I advise you to do....this CD is meant to be played luxuriously loud). You then take a trip to "Back in the Day" where you are instantly seduced by a track that makes you feel like you're at a basement house party groovin' and puffin' to a Patrice "Rushinesque" rhythym. Just when you think it can't get any better, she takes you into a 10 minute rhythmically sensual journey on "I Want You". I particularly like the drum line on this...reminiscent of the Womack & Womack club hit "Baby I'm Scared of You". Very sexy. After you've climaxed you bask in the afterglow with "Woo", a fun piece that was developed after she improv'd it onstage at a concert. Next, she gets conscious with Dead Prez on "the Grind"...a funky inner-city message piece. She keeps it grimey with "Danger"...a fabulously funky track that demands to be played at full bass. She gets smoother with "Think Twice" and there is a SUPERB appearance by Roy Hargrove on this track. Next, she takes you back to the party with "Love of My Life Worldwide" with a wonderful cast of guest vocals including Queen Latifah, fellow neo-soulite Angie Stone, and Mohammadia. She then gradually fades you out of her world with the same sexy outro that she brought you in with. Truly full circle. If you are a soul flower like me...a child of the 70's & 80's you will LOVE this CD. This is GOOD MUSIC and stands out in a sea of mediocrity. Thank you Erykah for staying true to your soul roots!
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on May 1, 2004
Okay, no doubt this review will either 1)get ignored or 2)get a bunch of "I did not find this review helpful" votes. But, whatever.
I'll say up front, I am a fan of Erykah Badu. I own everything she's ever released. In fact, I bought "Worldwide Underground" as soon as it dropped without having heard a note on it.
I'm sad to say, though, that I was a little disappointed.
Yes, I GET that it's transitional. And I GET that she was trying to experiment, which is admirable. And I GET that she wanted to expand the parameters of Neo-Soul, both in terms of sonic textures and running times ("I Need You" and "Bump It" clock-in at around 10 minutes each.) And in some ways, it reminds me a bit of albums like Isaac Hayes' "Hot Buttered Soul," where there's only a handful of tracks and the grooves unfold sometimes over the course of fifteen-twenty minutes. But this EP (it's only 10 songs deep) struggles because of lack of focus.
Don't get me wrong, there are some great ideas and moments on here. The last couple of minutes of "Bump It" where Badu vocalizes with Karon Wheeler and Zap Mama are mesmerizing. And "Back in the Day (Puff)" was one of the best songs of 2003, hands-down--it hits you from the beginning with a tight beat, catchy hook, and clever vocals. It's signature Erykah Badu. Plus, the new version of "Love of My Life" where she freaks "Funk You Right On Up" by the Sequence (with Angie Stone, a.k.a. Angie B, on vocals) is flawless. "Think Twice" is also so soulful that it hurts; its just a bit too truncated.
But then it all kind of falls apart with the grab bag of tracks on the rest of the album, which vary between playing it super safe ("The Grind" and "Danger") and experimenting to the point of being aimless. The latter is true on "I Need You," where a monotonous, one-note-played-over-a-heartbeat intro lasts almost two minutes before the groove even gets going, and then it never REALLY gets going. Around the 8-minute mark, it dissolves into a distorted jam session, which just about the time you think will segue into a Funkadelic-type chunk o' funk, it fades out into (yet another) rehashing of "Sometimes" off "Baduizm." ("Woo" probably is hot when she does it live, but here it falls flat.) And speaking of "Baduizm," "Danger" is the other side of the other side of "The Other Side of The Game." (If Neo-Soul is dead, like the cover art indicates, no use beating it to death...)
Anyway, the warning is: don't expect a full-fledged album. This is more a loose mix of unfinished thoughts, clever ideas, and developing genius. It's worth buying simply for "Back in the Day," if nothing else.
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on March 1, 2004
I put Erykah Badu in a category of artists whose music I will go out and buy without even hearing a song first. I usually download albums, then go out and buy them if they don't suck. But I don't have to hear Erykah's work first, I just buy it. She doesn't disappoint and that seems to be the case with her 4th album. Worldwide Underground doesn't contain a single bad song on it.
1) World Keeps On Turnin' (Intro) - Self's an intro. Who rates skits and interludes anyway?
2) Bump It - Just one of those feel good songs. I love it.
3) Back In The Day (Puff) - Great song about how her and some homies used to puff weed back in the day.
4) I Want You - No meaning to this goes from here to there with no real focal point. But the beat is hot.
5) Woo - No real point to this song, it's like something the band plays during an intermission.....but the beat is one of the best beats on the album.
6) The Grind feat. Dead Prez - Okay, I'm a huge Dead Prez fan, so I may be a little biased. But this is one of the hottest songs on the album. They have a way of narrorating the struggle without making it seem stale. Great song.
7) Danger - The story of a woman that will ride for her man through thick and thin. Again, she does it without making it seem like a stale topic.
8) Think Twice - She breaks right into this song without missing a beat as she speaks on her fear to commit. Again, the beat is hot. Great theme.
9) Love of My Life Worldwide - She shot a brick on this one. The theme is getting tired, but I like the beat. What makes it bad is Angie Stone trying to relive her rapping days, Queen Latifah proving that she's washed up, and Bahamadia spittin' her "What in the world did she just say?" lyrics. Don't get me wrong, I love Bahamadia, but she just didn't fit here. This song may be the only hiccup on the entire album because the theme is being run into the ground.....i.e. Erykah and Common's song "Love of My Life (An Ode To Hip Hop), as well as songs from Common "I Used To Love H.E.R." and The Roots "Act Too (Love Of My Life)".
10) World Keeps Turnin' (Outro) - See "World Keeps Turnin' (Intro)
Overall though, the album doesn't have any real structure, it's more like a 50 minute jam session. But it's definitely worth the money. Again, she doesn't disappoint.
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on February 20, 2004
I have been a fan of Erykah Badu 's since she first came out and all I've got to say is two words to all of you who call themselves disappointed with her latest work...YOUR CRAZY. This cd is bad. What more are you looking for her sound is always fresh and I especially like the way she reintroduced us to some of our old favorites through various new mixes. Erykah is the music she makes which is no different than a few other REAL artist out there. Real atrist are you may not get it right away if your the type expecting to get what you already had before...who wants leftovers? BORING.. We never crucified Prince for being himself. Stop trying to box the sista in to corner. I liked the cd the minute I played the first cut and it made want to check the whole thing out. So hat's off to Ms. Badu and other artist like her who try to keep it fresh and stimulating for us folk who love seeing artist expand our musical minds. For the rest of you stick to the cookie cutter stuff you hear played on the radio 300 times a day..all fluff and no fill.
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on January 23, 2004
What is the difference between the death of neo-soul and the birth of freakquency? Erykah's statement on Worldwide Underground is about the world. She experiments with different sounds. Of course, this music is trippy, dark, soulful, and experimental. This is a EP that is way too long. It sounds like Badu just went into the studio and messed around with things. I only wish that she could've kept the original mix of "Love of My Life" on here. Instead she added the "worldwide" mix, without the original. The rest of the tracks except "Woo" and "The Grind" are great. What makes Worldwide Underground so special? Nothing, it's just a EP full of experimental R&B. Come On Badu, when are you doing a full-length album? We have been waiting since 2001 for a new album. The drawings that Miss Badu created with a black ink pen are great. They look beautiful, but I wonder what they represent? Is it a sign that she is changing to different directions or is it just that she want us to visualize beauty?
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on January 22, 2004
Erykah Badu is a pioneer in pop culture. She single-handedly pulled an underground genre from the smoky bars right to the mainstream. Neosoul is a smooth blend of soul with an earthier, not so manufactured feel. Badu's debut album Baduizm, which embodies that kind of soul, received critical acclaim and paved the way for many talented artists such as the sultry-voiced soultress Jill Scott and acoustic queen India Arie. Badiuzm won several Grammies and drew comparison to greats such as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Mama's Gun, Badu's sophomore effort, showcased her lyrical prowess and embarked her on an extensive world tour from which this record developed. Worldwide Underground is called an EP (short for Extended Play), a term used to describe a record that does not have enough tracks to be an album, but is too diverse to be a single. This time around Badu lays tracks that are edgier and less radio-ready. This is demonstrated with the overwhelmingly abstract "I Want You," which is ten-plus minutes long, and the live-jargon of "Woo." The real treats in the EP are the nostalgic "Black In The Day (Puff)," a collaboration with Lenny Kravitz and a cover version that tackles issues of racism and crime by the name of "The Grind." However, the highlight of Underground is "Danger." This track fuses melodic fury with a catchy chorus. Other tracks fall flat, such as the lousy remix of "Love Of My Life" featuring Queen Latifah and Angie Stone and "Think Twice." Underground is a brief thirst quencher, however, listeners not accustomed to Badu will find it hard to digest. This album is too experimental and is only recommended to avid fans of the genre.
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on January 19, 2004
For those "hardcore" Badu fans, this album has the potential to be disappointing but that's not because it isn't good, it's misunderstood. First of all, the title, (Worldwide underground) is perfect because...Badu takes her style which combines socially conscious lyrics with universal messages and mixes them with universally appealing music. Erykah tried to go beyond her label as a neo-soul artist and truly tried to go worldwide with her "underground" style (accredited to her by her fans). Many might think she "sold out" or left her roots but Badu is expanding pre-conceived notions of what "underground" is and attempts to make it something universally accepted. This album has great songs period. The melodies and beats are still soulful but Erykah also shows us that music isn't only about deep poetic messages, it's about making people feel- whether it makes you feel good or just makes you feel like dancing! The remix to "love of my life" is crazy displaying the talents of some of the most respected women in hip hop. For those expecting a totally thought provoking album, this isn't it. Although this album contains songs that are socially conscious and insightful, it also just has tracks that make you wanna dance, make you wanna bob your head and feel good. The talent is still crazy and breaks Badu from her shell and displays her lyrical, musical, and performance skillz. Don't get it twisted, this album is still da bomb, just not deserving of 5 stars and is not a classic. Definitely a good buy.
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on December 25, 2003
Okay. . . Number one for those of you who claim to be E.B's biggest fan how could you not appreciate this album. I admit that when I went to buy it and noticed that there were not as many tracks as usual I was taken aback but me being the big fan that I am I was ready for whatever she was going to put out there. If yo are her biggest fan then you would understand where she is coming from with this album. "Neo-soul is dead and freakquency is born". She's taken it to a different level that only some would understand, like my man Andre 3000 from outkast (his LOVE BELOW CD). If you knew these artist well you would know that this is where their music ingenius lay but it's hard to make it to the top starting out with music like this, you have to build up respect first, this is what she wanted to get out to the world but knew she had to get to a certain level first (try reading the CD insert, it's there for a reason). I think the LP is genius, it shows there is more to music then creating a beat on a mixer and throwin "get low" or "shake your a$$" in it to get the attention. It just goes to show you how much the world has been brainwashed into thinking that everything on the top 20 charts is music. While the top sellers get rich or die trying to spit there ill lived cliches to get air play 24 times in an hour on the radio until the listener becomes infected by their musical disease then they're hooked. Give the LP a second chance and really try to understand it. It will give you a greater appreciation for music itself along with a new outlook on life. Celebrate the birth of FREAKQUENCY and become non-adapted!
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on December 24, 2003
I agree with some of the negative and some of the positive that has been presented thus far.
I must say that I was surprised with this LP from Erykah for a number of reasons. The main reason is that it is COMPLETELY different from her previous works which I think make it that much better. I on the other hand agree that she did harp on the "Love Of My Life" success a little too much with references to B-Boys & B-Girls a little too often and the obvious remix with "Love Of My Life Worldwide."
What I LOVED about the album is the old skool feel through and through. It took me back to the funk era of the 70's and even the 80's which I was born in but even as a "young buck" I was drowned in the soul of the 60's, funk of the 70's, and the beginnings of modern hip-hop in the 80's growing up in my parents household. BTW: Don't forget the New Jack era of the early and mid-90's.
Back to this review: Erykah was not consistent lyrically throughout this album but, I do not believe she was going for that with this album. I honestly believe she was trying to bring back some of the nostalgia of those previously mentioned eras where black was beautiful (all shades of the skin) and innocence was all "we" had. And, It is also evident within the tracks of her songs. For those who complained to no end obviously you were left out of the circle and I'm here to bring you back.
So, I believe that this effort should be looked at from that point of view. And, I was more than happy when I saw/heard Dead Prez represented on this album! Because, It's bigger than hip-hop!
Favorite Tracks:
1. Back In The Day (Puff!) - Lenny Kravitiz represented on this track.. ..This is directly reminiscent of the 70's & 80's. Sweet and smooth track without a shadow of a doubt.
2. I Want You - The beginning of the song would make you want to skip the track completely.. ..But, She got her point across and I was convinced!
3. Woo - Definite old skool feel.. ..If, You don't like it.. ..Your parents most certainly will! ..I've lived in the D.C. Area where Go-Go (Call & Response) rules.. ..So, I grooved to this track and continue to.
There are some tracks that had some of the "Dirty South" feel. People from the dirty, dirty know what I'm talking about (318/504).
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on December 10, 2003
Erykah Badu has always been at the forefront of the "neo-soul" music movement and I have been an avid fan since On and On. She has always had the ability to mix the organic with the spiritual and the ethereal, creating a unique yet relatable sound that seems timeless. Even today I still listen to the first, second, and live cd back to back with each time I discover something new and profound. Her new cd however, does nothing for me. The initial track is classic Badu and I thought it would set a tone for her metamorphosis. The songs that follow save for maybe two or three are a waste of space. The intros are to long and lyrics are rather repetitive and simplistic. Usually that can me that there is some deep significance but in this case there isn't. It's as if she couldn't think of something else to say which I'm shocked since previous albums were chocked full of knowledge. Not only do you just want to fast forward the track to the point of the song but you tend to think "now where have I heard this before." In my opinion the cd itself has too much of a Common influence and although he's bad in his own right, the two should not meet/collaborate. I'm just hoping this is an intermission album that will eventually yield a cd that fans are use to and expect from such an amazing artist.
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