It’s still the 1970s as far as Erykah Badu is concerned and that’s fine with me. That decade produced some of the best music, at least when it comes to the sounds of the instruments. There’s just something about an old funk groove that never goes out of style. Badu has a knack for funk grooves. That’s why it’s sort of disappointing to hear her cover old songs instead of making them up on her own.
The opening bit is a note-by-note cover of a Ramp song. That shameless jack move, which hardcore fans might excuse as homage, takes away a lot of artistic credit when it comes to Badu’s originality. As does My People, based on an Eddie Kendricks chant. “My people, hold on,” she says, probably referring to politically oppressed black people as the overall theme of the album seems to suggest.
But even if you’re put off by her social ideology and annoyed by her comic spontaneity; the Kolleen bit is grating; it’s hard not to be enchanted by her overall musicality. The original songs are, to my ears, better than the covers, which says something in regard to her talent. The Healer, a tribute to J Dilla, is voodoo magic. Telephone, another lament, captures perfectly the essence of soul jazz.
my rating = 3 of 5