Beyond Badu's self-appointed role as a teacher, what she does best is create really good music.... It should come as no surprise that Mama's Gun's organic feel comes from the team that helped produce D'Angelo's Voodoo. However, the most important sound of all is her unmistakable voice, making all of her songs like ornately crafted gems - even the unintelligible ones.
But what makes Badu a source of deep pride for her black audience (and intriguing puzzlement for her ever-growing white one) is that her mysticism produces its most compelling poetry when set against gritty realities such as drug-dealing boyfriends, jealous neighbors, ghetto etiquette, and the constant war on poverty. As a songwriter, Badu's particular gift is being able to work such everyday touchstones into sublime allusions of spiritual rebirth.
Mama's Gun wisely doesn't stray too far from the free-flowing R&B of Baduizm: Almost every track here is slinky, scat-influenced soul with rich female backing voices, seeded with the occasional string section, trumpet, or sample (most notably Dr. Dre's "Xxplosive"). Lyrically, most of Mama's Gun rings true, with "Bag Lady," the somewhat draggy first single on which Badu dispenses soulful advice to a homeless woman, as the sole exception.
Mama's Gun is the female companion to D'Angelo's ''Voodoo,'' with which it shares a reactionary pseudo- sophistication that too often substitutes good taste for good tunes. It's soul music for people who -- wrongly -- think rap is dumb and contemporary R&B is simplistic. Unlike D'Angelo, however, Badu has a nuanced voice that pokes through the bland surfaces; sometimes she manages moments worthy of her forebears, as on the slinky ''Bag Lady'' and the syncopated ''Booty.''
Positive: 17 out of 17
Mixed: 0 out of 17
Negative: 0 out of 17
Dec 12, 2011A freaking genius album that put Erykah on the map for me, and to this day remains a default go to record when I can't decide what to listen to, because I can listen to it in nearly any circumstance or mood. She hits political without getting preachy, and emotional without losing the sexy.… Expand
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