Name: Erykah Badu
Mixtape: Worldwide Underground
Joints to check for: “Bump It,” “Danger,” “Love of My Life Worldwide” featuring Queen Latifah, Bahamadia and Angie Stone.
Previous mixtapes: None, but she does have a bunch of acclaimed LPs under her belt.
The 411: OK, there are no shout-outs, no scratching, no blends, and Ms. Badu isn’t even a DJ. So how, you ask, does Erykah justify calling her new EP, Worldwide Underground, a mixtape? Well, there’s the obvious answer — because she said so — but Andre 3000’s ex does have some evidence to back her claim: Like some other mixtapes, the album doesn’t have any real concept and the songs play into each other, going from groove to groove, in sequence, without breaking up. And a few of the tracks run really long, way past the standard three minutes and 30 seconds.
The longest track clocks in at over 10 minutes and is called “I Want You.” On it, we find a love-struck E.B. frantically expressing her emotions. “I, I, I, I, I, I, I, want, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you,” she cries before asking, “What we gonna do?” As the song progresses, Ms. Badu claims she’s got it so bad that not even drinking holy water, fasting for 30 days or practicing yoga can help her.
As much as she’s twisted up over her man, however, Badu is clearly more enthralled with hip-hop. As her alter ego, MC Apples, the singer turns rapper, flipping verses alongside Queen Latifah, Bahamadia and Angie Stone. “My name is apples and I’ll rock your world,” she rhymes with an old-school flow. “Worldwide, do your math/ 30, 26, 36 and a half/ I hope that you will re-a-lize/ I got the hazel eyes to make your nature rise.”
Lenny Kravitz also guest stars on the EP, playing on “Back in the Day.” There, the album’s star longs for the simplicity of yesteryear. Meanwhile, Dead Prez give their militant two cents on the hustle game in “The Grind.”
Badu’s artistic instincts haven’t impeded the grind of her record label, however. While she’s comfortable labeling the project a mixtape because of its feel, her label isn’t peddling it on the street like one. You have to go to your local record store to cop Worldwide Underground just like a regular album.
Aside from the verses from her guests, Badu wrote the entire EP and produced the record with her production team, Freakquency.
DJs also have their say this week. DJs Green Lantern, Vlad and Dirty Harry just released 2Pac’s Rap Phenomenon, a record that pieces together ’Pac’s vocals from old material (see “Wave Of New Tupac Material Hitting Stores And Streets” ). Then there’s DJ Pudgee-P with his hodgepodge of street ditties on Riot Squad Part 3.
For other artists featured in Mixtape Mondays, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.
For a full-length feature on the role of mixtapes in the music industry, check out “Mixtapes: The Other Music Industry.”