15 Years of Worldwide Underground


Image by tidal.com

September 16th of this year marked the fifteenth anniversary of Erykah Badu’s under-the-radar album, Worldwide Underground. This was announced in a spontaneous Instagram post, shedding some light into its background. In the Instagram post, she described how different of a mindstate she was in during the creation of the project.

She was in a conducted tour called “Frustrated Artist” tour. Typically for any artist, one of the most strenuous aspects of their musical career is the amount they have to go through when they tour from state to state or region to country. She had planted a studio in her tour bus, and little by little, the album came into fruition on that tour bus.

In the early 2000’s, Badu had already established herself as one of the regal figures of the Soul music movement. Right next to the household names of D’Angelo and Common, Badu had a pretty set resume under her arm. With all that beside her, and this album now added into her catalog, how does it hold up after nearly two decades?

The project itself only spans ten tracks, around an hour long. In terms of its sound quality, it spells Badu. It feels more in tune with the aesthetic of Baduism than it did Mama’s Gun. Without going over each track, I can say that it was a safe play for Badu to take at the time.

Badu established her name with her first studio album, Baduism, back in 1997. For an initial effort, that is a feat to celebrate. Mama’s Gun was the perfect predecessor of the previous album, which enhanced the Jazz quality by adding more brass and drum instrumentation with the placid Hip-Hop samples.


Image from factmag.com

Worldwide Underground isn’t as much as a progression from Mama’s Gun, but just another example of why Erykah Badu is a keen figure for Hip-Hop. This album exudes the vibrations she settled within Baduisum, but little more modernized. Baduism was an ode to late night Jazz sessions and soul-soothing grooves, as this album wanted to implement that feeling into up-to-date MPC’s and recording equipment.

To this day, Badu is no figure to mess with. When she’s featured in a song or composition, the attention the piece garners raises dramatically. To this day, her catalog wasn’t added on much after Worldwide Underground. With only three other albums placed after Worldwide in her chronology, how is it that Badu is still such an imperative name?

Badu has been featured in countless numbers of features, collaborations, and support for rising artists of the time. Her influence in the community itself has helped push the Hip-Hop and Soul movement forward over the past two decades.


Image from yogiapproved.com

When it comes to Worldwide Underground, it may not be her most ambitious effort, but coming from the Queen of Soul, it still compares grand compared to much of the art presented during the time. Even in today’s scene.

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