I just want a chance to fly: Erykah Badu

Al Shipley’s list reminds me of what a deep, solid, weird catalog Erykah Badu has, especially when four albums, an EP stretched to album length, and a handful of odds ‘n’ sods constitutes the catalog of this wonderful artist, to me one of the most rewarding of the last twenty years. As usual I thank my sister, in the nineties several steps ahead as a hip-hop and R&B listener. A fall ’97 mixtape I made boasted “On & On” and “Next Lifetime” but I didn’t give Badu much thought until the “Bag Lady” remix became a hit a few years later. The tendency to exoticize her — “look at the turbans!” encapsulated much of the popular magazine coverage then — vanished as her collaborations with The Roots, Karriem Riggins, and Roy Ayres created some of the best grooves and quietest celebrations of the power of hip-hop, the love of her life. New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) remains my favorite album of 2008, with filigrees to discover and treasure with each listen; its sequel is only a shade less fantastic and phantasmic.

 

1. The Cell
2. Bag Lady (Single Remix)
3. Clevah
4. Me
5. Next Lifetime
6. Didn’t Cha Know
7. Danger
8. Tyrone (Live)
9. Gone Baby, Don’t Be Long
10. Window Seat
11. Booty
12. 4 Leaf Clover
13. Bump It
14. Appletree
15. Penitentiary Philosophy
16. Certainly
17. Hi
18. Back in the Day (Puff)
19. Hello (ft. Andre 3000)
20. Soldier

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