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25th November 2013

From The Vault: Erykah Badu – Baduizm

Badu’s profound debut that changed the face of R&B as we knew it.

Released February 1997


Few albums have done for music what Erykah Badu’s debut ‘Baduizm’ did for R&B on its release in 1997. Winning a Grammy for Best R&B album, ‘Baduizm’ sounds just as relevant to the charts today as it did over 15 years ago – the proof of a timeless album that surpasses the passing whims of its period.

The album has elements of old-school Soul that earned Badu comparisons to Billie Holiday and Diana Ross by Rolling Stone Magazine critics of the time. This comparison is most apparent on ‘On and On’ that won a second Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance and proved arguably the most commercially successful of the tracks. Capturing the humble daily chores of much of the USA’s Afro-American society in the South, ‘On and On’ resembles Holiday’s ‘Summertime’ in Badu’s vocal inflections that give an honest sincerity to anything she sings.

The album’s success is unsurprising considering the star-studded line-up that made up the production team. Former Miles Davis bassist Ron Carter complements the rich tone of Badu’s voice on the funky yet heartfelt “Drama” whilst renowned trumpeter Bobby Bradford and R&B producing legend James Poyser helped create the profound “See You Next Lifetime” and freestyle skit “Afro” that transport the listener back to the underground Jazz clubs of 1950’s New York.

Badu headed the Neo-Soul movement that was to pass the baton onto household names Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey and Lauryn Hill. This considered, it’s surprising how little ‘Baduizm’ is recognised today outside of today’s R&B community for helping establish the sounds of the 21st century.

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