“Oh on & on and on & on, my cipher keeps movin' like a rollin' stone…”
When neo-soul pioneer Erykah Badu appeared on the scene in early 1997 with her groundbreaking debut album Baduizm, it was the shot heard around the world. With her distinctive Afrocentric integrity, down-to-earth philosophy, and earthy-yet-cool musicality, the turban-wearing, Dallas-born goddess captivated ears, hearts, and minds with a landmark record that explored the emotional pursuits of a struggling romance, while delving into the introspective meditations of a young Black woman finding her own place and meaning in the world.
Badu’s masterful layering of her smooth, sultry-edged voice over tight, understated jazz-soul grooves immediately struck a chord with many who listened. For some, the album marked their introduction to the alternative soul movement (commonly coined as neo-soul), an established subgenre that redefined Black popular music throughout the 1990s and 2000s. For everyone else, it was their first exposure to the evolutionary world of the then-25-year-old woman who professed to be an “analog girl in the digital world.”
Badu would take us even further into her journey two years later when she and the Soulquarians crew (Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, James Poyser, and J Dilla, just to name a few) hit New York’s famed Electric Lady Studios in 1999 to record what would be her greatest achievement thus far—her 2000 sophomore release Mama’s Gun. A highly direct and ambitious statement, she tackled deeper subjects and eclectic territory that signaled her progression as both an unparalleled musician and figurehead of our time.
In advance of the 20th anniversary of Baduizm next February, Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) will be releasing double-vinyl editions of Baduizm and its follow-up Mama’s Gun on October 21st as part of their acclaimed ‘Respect the Classics’ initiative. The new reissue for Baduizm will mark the first time the album has been pressed on wax in its entirety with original artwork to boot. This will also mark the second time Mama’s Gun gets reissued, as the vinyl boutique label Music On Vinyl first reissued the album on limited-edition 180 gram wax in 2014.
For many years, vinyl enthusiasts and Badu-holics settled with the abridged, promotional pressing of Baduizm, which sported a generic black sleeve with a label and featured nine songs from the album. The promotional copies were initially geared exclusively toward DJ and radio markets, in support of the album’s release in 1997. Eventually, Universal Music reissued the promotional pressing a year later to widespread commercial markets. There was never a complete version of the album that existed on vinyl until now. Vinyl pressings for Mama’s Gun were initially available only as a limited double-vinyl promo, pressed on transparent red-colored vinyl records that were housed in a generic black sleeve. It was long sought after before being reissued a decade later and still commands high prices today.
The Grammy Award-winning Baduizm peaked on the Billboard 200 Albums chart at number two and number one on its Top R&B/Hip-Hop chart in 1997. Mama’s Gun was certified platinum by the RIAA two months after its release, peaking at number eleven on the Billboard 200 and number two on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop chart in 2000. The albums also helped further the genre’s mainstream viability, with classic singles such as “On & On,” “Next Lifetime,” “Otherside of the Game,” “Didn’t Cha Know?,” and “Bag Lady.” Both albums established Badu as one of the prominent figures in alternative soul, and in the ensuing years through the present, she has explored even deeper and more adventurous sonic and lyrical endeavors.
We’re certainly looking forward to adding some classic Badu to our collection. Reserve your copies now and take a few moments to reminisce by checking out some throwback visuals below.