Worldwide Underground

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Worldwide Underground
Studio album by Erykah Badu
Released September 16, 2003
Recorded 2003
Genre Neo soul, hip hop, R&B, funk
Length 54:21
Label Motown
Producer Erykah Badu (also exec.), Dead Prez, Freakquency, Raphael Saadiq, James Poyser
Erykah Badu chronology
Mama's Gun
Worldwide Underground
New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)
Singles from Worldwide Underground
  1. "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)"
    Released: 2002
  2. "Danger"
    Released: 2003
  3. "Back in the Day (Puff)"
    Released: 2004

Worldwide Underground is the third studio album by American R&B and neo soul musician Erykah Badu, released September 16, 2003, on Motown Records. Recording sessions for the album took place during 2003, following Badu's period of writer's block and her performing on the Frustrated Artist Tour.[1] Production was handled primarily by production group Freakquency, which consists of Badu, Rashad Smith, James Poyser, and RC Williams.[2] Prominently incorporating hip hop and funk elements, the album features an unconventional musical structure and minimal songwriting concerning hip hop culture, love, ghetto life, and gang culture.[1][3][4][5][6][7]

The album debuted at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling 143,561 copies in its first week. It earned gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America and produced three singles that achieved moderate chart success. Upon its release, Worldwide Underground received generally positive reviews from music critics. The album has sold 609,000 copies in the United States.


After taking some time off to raise her child, Badu returned in 2000 with Mama's Gun. The album was characterized as more organic in sound than her previous studio album, and primarily produced by the Soulquarians and noted bassist Pino Palladino. A remix of one of the album's songs, "Bag Lady", was issued as the first single and topped the R&B charts for seven weeks. The album was well-received, with the lyrical content winning notices from many publications. Reviewers found some of her lyrics hard to decipher on her initial releases.[8] Despite not charting as high as her first two albums, Mama's Gun was another platinum-selling success, and "Bag Lady" was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 2001 Badu embarked on the Mama's Gun World Tour. The tour started in North America on February 10 in Cleveland, Ohio at the Allen Theatre.[9] Badu will perform two nights in Washington, D.C. and Chicago.[10] After the release of Mama's Gun and "Love of My Life", Badu suffered writer's block.[11]


Badu in 2005.

Badu embarked on the "Worldwide Underground Tour" in 2004.[12] The US trek kicked off on February 3 in New Orleans. and ran through the winter and spring with supporting act Floetry joining the tour February 5 in Houston.[13] The Roots made a special opening act appearance at the February 11 show in Los Angeles. Badu resumed the tour during the fall with additional dates in America and Europe.

Badu founded the Sugar Water Festival, a music festival co-found by Badu, Queen Latifah and Jill Scott. The trek played to amphitheaters and arenas in the United States during the summer of 2005 and 2006. It began in 2005 as an event to bring awareness to health issues to African-American women. British duo Floetry opened shows during the 2005 run. The festival was relaunched briefly in 2006 with Kelis opening the show and comedian Mo'Nique hosting the festival.[14] 2006 was the final year for the outing.

The festival had plans to expand into Europe and Asia, however, this did not come to fruition. The Summer Tour was a concert tour in 2006 by Badu. The tour started on June 10, in Knoxville, TN, with three shows in the U.S. and resumed in July for several shows in Europe. Badu co-headlined with dates in August with Jill Scott and Queen Latifah at the "Sugar Water Festival".[15]


Commercial performance[edit]

Worldwide Underground debuted at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart in the week of October 4, 2003,[16] selling 143,561 copies in its first week.[17] Ultimately spending 11 weeks on the Billboard 200, it also entered at number two on Billboard '​s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and spent 30 weeks on the chart.[18] By December 2003, the album had sold 394,000 copies domestically.[19] Its first single, "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop)", peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[20] The second single "Danger" reached number 82 on the Hot 100 and number 27 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs,[21] while the third single "Back in the Day (Puff)" peaked at number 62 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[22] On October 28, 2003, Worldwide Underground was certified gold in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America, following sales in excess of 500,000 copies in the United States.[23] According to Nielsen SoundScan, the album has sold 609,000 copies in the United States.[24]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[2]
Entertainment Weekly B+[25]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[26]
Mojo 4/5 stars[27]
The New York Times (favorable)[28]
Pitchfork Media (6.7/10)[29]
Rolling Stone 2/5 stars[30]
Slant Magazine 2.5/5 stars[31]
Uncut 3/5 stars[32]
The Village Voice (favorable)[33]

Despite some criticism towards its loose, unconventional structure and songwriting, the album received generally positive reviews from music critics.[34] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 71, based on 14 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[34] Allmusic writer Andy Kellman gave it 3½ out of 5 stars and wrote "the whole thing goes down more like a weekend jam session than an endlessly labored-over, polished project. For the most part, this is a good thing".[2] PopMatters writer Mark Anthony Neal commended Badu for her themes relating to hip hop culture and for her musical direction, writing that "it finds the artist  '​Stepping into Tomorrow '​, with a new production collective in tow and some straight-up, free-floating, funky-ass R&B. And for the first time in her career, Badu is wearing her own voice and it is unmistakably Badu".[1] Yahoo! Music's Dan Leroy expressed favor towards Badu's incorporation of lyrics about "the street and its demands" with her characteristic "jazzy abstraction" material, stating "Brimming with 'I got the block on lock' attitude, 'Danger' and 'Steady On the Grind' boast the hip-hop hardness Badu's been lacking, and yet it never seriously impedes the languid, elegant groove that's as much a trademark as her headwrap used to be".[35]

Uncut viewed the album as too groove-oriented, but also found it "frequently intoxicating".[32] Blender gave the album three out of five stars and stated, "There's rambling, digital fiddling and self-indulgent sprawl here, but a sense of purpose, too, even as her lips move on autopilot."[36] Georgia Christgau of The Village Voice commented that "Although sometimes her reliance on mood threatens to get the better of Worldwide Underground, Badu remains faithful to the old school of flow, a blend of drums and rhythm designed to service soul's best instruments: its vocalists."[33] In his consumer guide for The Village Voice, critic Robert Christgau gave Worldwide Underground an honorable mention ((3-star Honorable Mention)) rating,[5] indicating "an enjoyable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well treasure".[37] He cited "Love of My Life Worldwide" and "Danger" as highlights and quipped, "If Andre can sing-song hip-hop, so can his babymama".[5] Mojo gave the album four out of five stars and called it "an astonishing album that, while paying its dues to the soul stars of the past, marries hip hop with a subtle lightness of touch and a soothing vocal to create a nu soul master".[27] Slant Magazine ranked the album number 90 on its list of the Best Albums of the Aughts.[38]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "World Keeps Turnin' (Intro)" (Erykah Badu) – 1:39
  2. "Bump It" (Badu, Audrey Magett, James Poyser, B. Rashad Smith) – 8:49
  3. "Back in the Day (Puff)" (Badu, Magett, Poyser, Smith) – 4:46
  4. "I Want You" (Badu, Magett, Poyser, Smith, Bailon) – 10:53
  5. "Woo" (Badu, R.C. Williams) – 3:14
  6. "The Grind" (featuring Dead Prez) (Badu, Dead Prez) – 2:49
  7. "Danger" (Badu, Poyser, Smith, Williams) – 5:49
  8. "Think Twice" (Badu, Donald Byrd) – 3:02
  9. "Love of My Life Worldwide" (featuring Queen Latifah, Bahamadia & Angie Stone) (Badu, Bahamadia, Queen Latifah, Angie Stone) – 5:26
  10. "World Keeps Turnin' (Outro)" (Badu) – 4:01
UK and Japan Bonus Tracks
11. "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop)" (featuring Common) (Saadiq, Badu, Lynn, Poyser, Ozuna) – 3:50
12. "Hollywood" – 5:32





Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2003) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200[16] 3
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[18] 2
U.S. Billboard Top Internet Albums[39] 3

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2003) Peak
US Billboard 200[40] 191


  1. ^ a b c Neal, Mark Anthony. Review: Worldwide Underground. PopMatters. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  2. ^ a b c Kellman, Andy. Review: Worldwide Underground. Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  3. ^ King, Aliya S. "Review: Worldwide Underground". Vibe: 147. November 2003.
  4. ^ Jones, Steve. Review: Worldwide Underground. USA Today. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  5. ^ a b c Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide: Worldwide Underground". The Village Voice: October 21, 2003. Archived from the original on 2009-08-09.
  6. ^ Chauhan, Sunil. Review: Worldwide Underground. Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
  7. ^ Green, Thomas H. Review: Worldwide Underground. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ badu targets dates for mama's gun 25, 20001
  10. ^ Badu to make her Auditorium debut in
  11. ^ [2][dead link]
  12. ^ badu plans underground
  13. ^ [3][dead link]
  14. ^ McCabe, Brent (9 August 2006). "Sugar Water Festival with Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Queen Latifah, Kelis, and Mo'nique". Baltimore City Paper. Times-Shamrock Communications. Archived from the original on July 2, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2011. 
  15. ^ Sam Machkovech (August 3, 2006). "Sugar Water Festival". Dallas Observer. Retrieved February 11, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Billboard 200 (10/4/2003). Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  17. ^ Farber, Jim. Newsline: DMX's 'Champ's' a Champ. New York Daily News. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  18. ^ a b Chart History: Worldwide Underground. Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  19. ^ Columnist. Badu Plans 'Underground' Tour. Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  20. ^ Chart History: Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop). Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  21. ^ Chart History: Danger, Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  22. ^ Chart History: Back in the Day (Puff). Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  23. ^ Gold & Platinum – Searchable Database: Worldwide Underground. Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  24. ^ Columnist. Badu Starts 'Nu' On Double-Disc Album. Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  25. ^ Blumenfeld, Larry. Review: Worldwide Underground. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  26. ^ Nichols, Natalie. Review: Worldwide Underground. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  27. ^ a b "Erykah Badu, 'Worldwide Underground' (Motown)". Mojo (Bauer) (121): 109. December 2003. 
  28. ^ Sanneh, Kelefa. Review: Worldwide Underground. The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  29. ^ Beta, Andy. Review: Worldwide Underground. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2009-08-09.
  30. ^ Caramanica, Jon. Review: Worldwide Underground. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  31. ^ Cinquemani, Sal. Review: Worldwide Underground. Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
  32. ^ a b "Erykah Badu, 'Worldwide Underground' (Motown)". Uncut (IPC Media) (80): 103. January 2004. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  33. ^ a b Christgau, Georgia. Review: Worldwide Underground. The Village Voice. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  34. ^ a b Worldwide Underground (2003): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  35. ^ Leroy, Dan. Review: Worldwide Underground. Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  36. ^ "Erykah Badu, 'Worldwide Underground' (Motown)". Blender (Alpha Media Group) (20): 114. October 2003. 
  37. ^ Christgau, Robert. CG 90s: Key to Icons. Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2009-06-15.
  38. ^ "Best of the Aughts: Albums". Slant Magazine. Retrieved February 10, 2010. 
  39. ^ Billboard Charts: Worldwide Underground. Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  40. ^

External links[edit]