Mama's Gun

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Mama's Gun
Erykah Badu - Mama's Gun.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 21, 2000
StudioElectric Lady Studios in New York
LabelMotown/Puppy Love
Erykah Badu chronology
Mama's Gun
Worldwide Underground
Singles from Mama's Gun
  1. "Bag Lady"
    Released: September 12, 2000
  2. "Didn't Cha Know?"
    Released: March 2001
  3. "Cleva"
    Released: 2001

Mama's Gun is the second studio album by American singer Erykah Badu. It was recorded between 1999 and 2000 at Electric Lady Studios in New York and released on November 21, 2000, by Motown Records. A neo soul album, Mama's Gun incorporates elements of funk, soul, and jazz styles.[1] It has confessional lyrics by Badu, which cover themes of insecurity, personal relationships, and social issues.[2] The album has been viewed by critics as a female companion to neo soul artist D'Angelo's second album Voodoo (2000), which features a similar musical style and direction.[3][4][5] Critics have also noted that while Badu's first album Baduizm contained its share of cryptic lyricism, Mama's Gun is much more direct in its approach, and places the artist in a subjective position more than its predecessor.[6]

The album contains the single "Bag Lady", Badu's first top 10 Billboard hit, which was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and for Best R&B Song. The song "Didn't Cha Know?" was also nominated for Best R&B Song. The album features substantial contributions from several members of the Soulquarians outfit, of which Badu was a member. It also features guests such as soul singer Betty Wright and trumpeter Roy Hargrove. Mama's Gun was met with generally positive reviews from critics. It was less commercially successful than Baduizm, receiving Platinum certification in the US. Rolling Stone magazine named it one of the Top 10 Albums of 2000.


Following Badu signing to Universal Records, she released her debut studio album Baduizm, in early 1997. The album was met with critical and commercial success, debuting at number two on the Billboard charts and number one on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.[7][8] Baduizm's commercial and critical success helped establish Badu as one of the emerging neo soul genre's leading artists.[9] Her particular style of singing drew many comparisons to Billie Holiday.[10] Baduizm was certified three times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, Gold by the British Phonographic Industry and the Canadian Recording Industry Association. [11] [12] [13] Badu recorded her first live album, while pregnant with Seven, and the release of the recording coincided with his birth.[14]


The album was recorded at the Electric Lady Studios.

After the success of Baduizm and, Live, Badu took a short break to tend to her role as a mother to her newborn child, Seven, whom she had with her partner at the time, André Benjamin.[15] She returned to collaborating with Questlove of The Roots. The frequency of their collaborations led to her becoming a member of the Soulquarians - a collective formed of like-minded musicians, singers and rappers including Questlove, D'Angelo, Jay Dee, and Common (with whom she had previously worked in 1997). Unfortunately, by the time the songs for her follow-up album had begun to materialize, her spousal relationship with Benjamin had already broken down. Badu used the experience as inspiration for several of the songs that she would write, most notably "Green Eyes".[16] Another event, the murder of Amadou Diallo by New York City Police, serves as the basis for the song "A.D. 2000".[17]

As with other Soulquarian collaborations, the majority of the album was recorded at Electric Lady, Jimi Hendrix's personal recording studio, which was also used to create several landmark albums by David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, and John Lennon. Other studios include Dallas Sound Lab and Palmyra Studios in her hometown of Dallas, TX. The sessions were informal, and took place simultaneously with D'Angelo's Voodoo and Common's Like Water for Chocolate, resulting in impromptu collaborations and a distinctive sound that can be found among the three albums.[18] Renowned recording engineer, Russell Elevado, who was responsible for the mixing of all three albums, has stated that he used older techniques and vintage mixing gear in order to achieve the warmth found in older recordings. While most current recording techniques involve the use of hi-tech digital equipment, Elevado employed the use of analog equipment including vintage microphones and recording to tape.[citation needed]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[20]
Boston Herald3.5/4 stars[21]
Entertainment WeeklyB−[3]
The Guardian5/5 stars[22]
Los Angeles Times3/4 stars[23]
Q3/5 stars[25]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[2]
Uncut3/5 stars[26]
The Village VoiceA[27]

Mama's Gun was released by Motown Records on November 21, 2000, and received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 80, based on 16 reviews.[19] Rolling Stone magazine's Touré said Badu abandoned the pretensions of Baduizm in favor of equally profound but more comprehensible lyrics.[2] In The Village Voice, Robert Christgau wrote that she improved her ability as a composer on Mama's Gun and also took note of her lyrics: "Maybe her sources are autobiographical, but she’s here to inspire all black-identified women and the men who admire them."[27] The A.V. Club's Keith Phipps praised her lyrical themes and the album's "deceptively simple arrangements, a lovely breakup suite ('Green Eyes'), and near-infinite replay value".[28] PopMatters critic Wayne Franklin found the record compelling in its personal scope of Badu's psyche, calling it "a definite work of art, destined to remain in heavy rotation for some time to come".[29]

Although most reviews were favorable, Mama's Gun was not as successful with consumers and critics as Baduizm had been;[30] Q wrote that Badu's debut had raised expectations she did not meet on Mama's Gun, while Entertainment Weekly said it was plagued by "a reactionary pseudo-sophistication that too often substitutes good taste for good tunes."[3][25] According to Badu in an interview a few months after the album's release, "it has sold 1.4 million in the US. So no, it didn't sell as much ... although creatively I feel like this is a better piece of work." She felt disappointed at first about its commercial performance, but was encouraged by the response from listeners at her concerts: "When I started to tour again and saw all the people show up who knew the words, it was confirmation that the work is not always for commercial success. It's also for spiritual upliftment."[30]

At the end of 2000, Mama's Gun was voted the 15th best album of the year in the Pazz & Jop, an annual poll of American critics published by The Village Voice.[31] Christgau, the poll's supervisor, ranked it ninth best on his own year-end list.[32] The Times named it the ninth best record of the year.[33] It was also ranked ninth by Rolling Stone,[34] while Jon Pareles named it the year's fifth best album in his list for The New York Times.[35] The newspaper's Ben Ratliff later said Mama's Gun and D'Angelo's Voodoo were "the great neo-soul records of 2000".[36] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[37]

Track listing[edit]

1."Penitentiary Philosophy"
  • Badu
  • Poyser
  • Thompson[a]
  • Palladino[a]
2."Didn't Cha Know?"Badu3:58
3."My Life"
  • Badu
  • Poyser
  • Badu
  • Poyser
  • Jay Dee[a]
4."... & On"
  • Badu
  • Jamal Cantero
  • Shaun Martin
  • Jah Born
  • Badu
  • Badu
  • Poyser
  • Badu
  • Poyser
6."Hey Sugah"Badu0:54
8."Kiss Me on My Neck (Hesi)"
9."A.D. 2000"
10."Orange Moon"
11."In Love with You" (featuring Stephen Marley)
  • Badu
  • Marley
12."Bag Lady"Badu5:48
13."Time's a Wastin'"
  • Badu
  • Martin
14."Green Eyes"
  • Badu
  • Poyser
  • Duplaix
2001 re-issue bonus tracks
15."Bag Lady" (Cheeba Sac Radio Edit)
  • Badu
  • Martin
  • Hayes
  • Young
  • Bailey
  • Longmiles
  • Brown
  • Hale
2002 Dutch edition bonus disc
1."Tyrone" (live)
  • Badu
  • Norman Hurt
  • Badu
  • Ty Macklin
  • Badu
  • Bob Power
4."Your Precious Love" (featuring D'Angelo)
5."Bag Lady" (Basement Boys Afrocentric Mix)
  • Badu
  • Martin
  • Hayes
  • Young
  • Bailey
  • Longmiles
  • Brown
  • Hale
Basement Boys (remix)8:22
6."Bag Lady" (Enhanced video)
  • Badu
  • Martin
  • Hayes
  • Young
  • Bailey
  • Longmiles
  • Brown
  • Hale
7."Didn't Cha Know" (Enhanced video)Badu
  • Jay Dee
  • Badu


  • ^[a] indicates a co-producer.



Horns arranged by Roy Hargrove:

  • Flute – D'Wayne Kerr (6, 8, 10, 12, 14)
  • Saxophone – Jacques Swarzbart (7, 14)
  • Trumpet – Roy Hargrove (7, 14)
  • Trombone – Frank Lacy (7, 14)

Strings on tracks 3 and 13, arranged by Larry Gold:

  • Violins: Charlie Parker Jr., Emma Kummrow, Gregory Teperman, Igor Szwec, Olgo Konopelsky, Charles Kwas (13 only)
  • Violas: Davis Barnet, Peter Nocella
  • Cello: Larry Gold (13 only)


  • Executive producers: Erykah Badu, Kedar Massenburg
  • Recording engineers: Tom Soares (1–5, 8–20, 14), Chris Bell (4, 6, 7, 12), Russell Elevado (1, 7, 8), Leslie Brathwaite (2, 3, 5, 10), Vernon J. Mungo (2, 8, 10), Jon Smeltz and Mark Goodchild (3, 13), Errol Brown (11)
  • Mixing Engineers: Tom Soares (4, 6, 9, 11), Russell Elevado (1, 7, 8, 12, 14), Leslie Brathwaite (2, 3, 5, 10, 13)
  • Assistant engineers: Jon Adler (1, 3, 5, 9, 10, 14), Steve Mandel (1, 5, 7, 8, 12, 14), Shinobu Mitsuoka (2–5, 8, 9, 11), Mike Turner (3, 8, 9, 13), Michael Verdes (4, 6, 7, 12), Vincent Alexander (5, 10, 13), Mitch Getz and William Jackson (2), Krystof Zizka (3), Jason Dale (4), Brian Geten and Paul Gregory (6), Rob Smith (10)
  • Erik Steiner – Pro-Tools (3, 4)
  • Mastering: Chris Gehringer, Tom Coyne
  • Vernon Mungo – production facilitator
  • Erykah Badu and Michael Whitfield – art direction
  • Simone/Whitfield – design
  • Robert Maxwell – cover art
  • Don Thompson – photography
  • Kierstan Tucker – A&R


Chart (2000) Peak
Netherlands Albums Chart 7
Switzerland Albums Chart 33
Swedish Albums Chart[38] 19
Austria Albums Chart 56
UK Albums Chart[39] 76
UK R&B Albums Chart[40] 11
U.S. Billboard 200[41] 11
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[42] 3


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[43] Gold 50,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[44] Gold 100,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[45] Gold 40,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[46] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[47] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ DaCosta, Jamaias (March 16, 2012). "On the record: Erykah Badu's Mama's Gun". CBC Music. CBC. Archived from the original on March 1, 2016. Retrieved March 16, 2013.[dead link]
  2. ^ a b c Touré (January 18, 2001). "Mama's Gun". Rolling Stone. New York. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Brunner, Rob (November 20, 2000). "Mama's Gun". Entertainment Weekly. New York. Archived from the original on April 22, 2019. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
  4. ^ Klein, Joshua. "Review: Mama's Gun". The Washington Post: C.05. December 6, 2000. (Transcription of original review at talk page)
  5. ^ Gill, Andy. Review: Mama's Gun. The Independent. Retrieved on 2010-03-30.
  6. ^ allmusic ((( Mama's Gun > Overview )))
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums: December 09, 2000 | Billboard Chart Archive". December 9, 2000. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  9. ^ O'Donnell, David. Review: Baduizm. BBC Music. Retrieved on 2009-08-03.
  10. ^ "Erykah Badu". Rock On The Net. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  11. ^ RIAA Archived 2013-02-25 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ [1] Archived January 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Gold and Platinum". December 1, 2011. Archived from the original on March 31, 2010. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
  14. ^ [2] Archived May 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Erykah Badu Delivers". 2016-01-28. Retrieved 2016-05-24.
  16. ^ "Mama's Gun Review". 2001-01-18. Retrieved 2016-05-24.
  17. ^ "Wrapped and Strapped". 2000-11-22. Retrieved 2016-05-24.
  18. ^ "Questlove Explains The Day Of "The Soulquarians' Funeral"". 2014-01-13. Archived from the original on 2016-06-17. Retrieved 2016-05-24.
  19. ^ a b "Reviews for Mama's Gun by Erykah Badu". Metacritic. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  20. ^ Theakston, Rob. "Mama's Gun – Erykah Badu". AllMusic. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
  21. ^ Rodman, Sarah (December 17, 2000). "Erykah Badu: Mama's Gun". Boston Herald. p. 61.
  22. ^ Odell, Michael (December 1, 2000). "We've been to orange moon". The Guardian. London. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  23. ^ Hilburn, Robert (November 19, 2000). "Singular Visions Seeking Focus". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 15, 2012. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  24. ^ Brooks, Daphne (September 25, 2016). "Erykah Badu: Mama's Gun". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  25. ^ a b "Erykah Badu: Mama's Gun". Q. London (173). February 2001.
  26. ^ "Erykah Badu: Mama's Gun". Uncut. London (45): 79. February 2001.
  27. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (January 16, 2001). "Dub for Dummies". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  28. ^ Phipps, Keith. Review: Mama's Gun. The A.V. Club. Retrieved on 2010-03-30.
  29. ^ Franklin, Wayne. Review: Mama's Gun. PopMatters. Retrieved on 2009-08-09.
  30. ^ a b McIver, Joel (2010). Erykah Badu: The First Lady Of Neo-Soul. SMT Publishing. p. 208. ISBN 0857124498.
  31. ^ "Pazz & Jop 2000: Critics Poll". The Village Voice. New York. February 2001. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  32. ^ Christgau, Robert (February 2001). "Pazz & Jop 2000: Dean's List". The Village Voice. New York. Archived from the original on October 8, 2012. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  33. ^ "Mama's Gun". Acclaimed Music. Archived from the original on October 1, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  34. ^ "Top 10 Albums of 2000". Rolling Stone. New York: 106. January 4, 2001.
  35. ^ Pareles, Jon. The Critics' Choices: Danceable Grooves, Hip-Hop Worldviews. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-08-09.
  36. ^ Ratliff, Ben (January 20, 2013). "Pursuing Many Paths to Find His Own". The New York Times. p. AR22. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  37. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  38. ^ "". Retrieved 7 July 2009. Top Swedish Albums (2000)
  39. ^ Erykah Badu|Official Chart History.
  40. ^ "". Retrieved 5 August 2015. UK R&B Albums Chart (2000)
  41. ^ "Album Info: Mama's Gun - Erykah Badu". Retrieved June 20, 2012.
  42. ^ "R&B/Hip Hop Albums: Week of December 09, 2000". Retrieved June 20, 2012.
  43. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Erykah Badu – Mama's Gun". Music Canada. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  44. ^ "Japanese album certifications – Erykah Badu – Mama's Gun" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved June 6, 2020. Select 2001年1月 on the drop-down menu
  45. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Erykah Badu – Mama's Gun" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 11 August 2018. Enter Mama's Gun in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  46. ^ "British album certifications – Erykah Badu – Mama's Gun". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved March 11, 2016. Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Mama's Gun in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  47. ^ "American album certifications – Erykah Badu – Mama's Gun". Recording Industry Association of America. January 29, 2016. Retrieved January 29, 2016. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]