CD Cover Ekykah Badu

Review by Dorothy Parvaz

It's amazing how much ego and its grating manifestation, pretension, can get in the way of the creative process. Case in point: Erykah Badu. Sure, she's talented, but is she ever stuck on herself. And, unfortunately, after listening to her latest album, Live, that's all you'll probably come away with.

The music is solid enough (she has one Charles "Poogie" Hall on drums -- he's incredible) and Badu's voice is sweet, but she really shouldn't have put out a live CD -- it's far too telling. For the full tedious experience that is Live, start with the album's jacket. Badu looks pretty awesome inside the cover, with butterfly wings attached to her, but then there are the two pictures of her rather swollen, pregnant belly -- how exploitive. She already natters on about rubbing oil on her "divine belly." Are the photos really necessary? Alright Ms. Badu, you're expecting. So is my friend's chihuahua. Big deal.

The way song credits are handled also indicates that Badu suffers from some sort of goofy egomaniacal disorder. It appears that, unlike mere mortals, Queen Badu "creates" songs. Pieces not created by her were written by common folk. Speaking of the music, it's interesting in some parts, damned mediocre in others, but it's never bad. Lyrically, Badu isn't all that inventive, it's really her style, her delivery that makes the difference. When she's mixing rap with soul, she's really got something going on, but when she just sings, the songs' lyrics show themselves for what they are: stale. Just check out "Boogie Nights/All Night" to get a true taste of this.

Even between songs, Badu doesn't let up on the parturient prater. She implores, "Sistahs, put your hands on your wombs" at one point, during her rambling explanation of the reproductive imagery behind the design of the bracelet she wears. Gag. If you find that whole "I'm an Egyptian queen, my womb and I are in touch with the life-force" deal intriguing, you'll find this album listenable. If you don't, you'll need a 12-step program to give you the strength not to rip the disc out of the CD player and fling it into the great wide open.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on February 1, 1998

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