Erykah Badu's Studio Albums, Ranked

Erykah Badu’s catalog of music is unparalleled.

BYWyatt Westlake
Link Copied to Clipboard!
7.0K Views
erykah-badu-albums-ranked

Erykah Badu’s catalog of music is unparalleled. The legendary singer can be characterized by her instantly recognizable voice and her spiritual approach to music. Her distinct tone and unconventional style set her apart from other R&B and soul artists of the 1990s and the 2000s. A leader of the neo-soul movement, Erykah Badu pushed boundaries and her influence is still clear today in the current landscape of R&B music. Badu is also known for her unique fashion sense, which she recently claimed Beyoncé copied. While she has not released a new album in over a decade, she can still fill arenas, which she did this summer on a North American tour alongside Yasiin Bey. This is a list of Erykah Badu’s five studio albums, ranked in ascending order. Take a look at the list below.

Read More: Erykah Badu Net Worth 2023: What Is The Singer Worth?

5. Worldwide Underground (2003)

Ranking at the bottom of Erykah Badu’s discography is her third studio album, 2003’s Worldwide Underground. While it is a great album on its own, it does not stack up against her other releases. Erykah sings well over the production, but the songwriting does not compare to that of Baduizm or Mama’s Gun. The production is fitting for Badu, but songs like “Love Of My Life Worldwide” hold the album back. Still, Worldwide Underground is full of feel-good grooves from James Poyser and others. Erykah Badu’s worst album is better than most R&B albums coming out today, which speaks volumes about the quality of her catalog.

Read More: Erykah Badu’s Influence Described By Questlove, Puma Curry, Thom Browne, And More

4. New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) (2008)

Badu’s fourth album, New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) marked a new era in her career. In a post-neo soul era, she departed from her signature sound, favoring psychedelic hip-hop production from Madlib, Karriem Riggins, 9th Wonder, and more. The experimental sound was fitting for the album’s political themes. New Amerykah Part One explored topics of urban oppression, poverty, and Black identity, leaning more into socially aware lyricism than ever before. The song “Master Teacher” helped popularize the term “stay woke” influencing Childish Gambino’s “Redbone,” as well as modern activism as a whole.

New Amerykah Part One is Erykah Badu’s most lyrically profound album. While the songwriting and Badu’s eccentric sound drive the appeal of the album, it may not always result in the best songs. New Amerykah Part One surely stands out in Erykah Badu’s discography, but the album’s sequel arguably outranks it.

Read More: Erykah Badu Remixes Sade’s “Love Is Stronger Than Pride” On Her Birthday

3. New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) (2010)

Erykah Badu’s most recent studio album, New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) captures the essence of her best works but also shows her evolution. It includes the warm, feel-good love songs of Baduizm and the unpredictability of Mama’s Gun. It also has the groovy production and loose structure of Worldwide Underground and the psychedelic edge of New Amerykah Part One. In contrast to Part One, this album is significantly more personal than its politically conscious predecessor. Erykah Badu is at her best when she sings from an autobiographical perspective. She shows both personal and artistic growth in New Amerykah Part Two. With all that being said, it is hard to beat the classics. 

Read More: Erykah Badu, Teyana Taylor, H.E.R., & Brandy Link For “Ladies First” Cypher

2. Mama's Gun (2000)

Mama’s Gun includes many of Erykah Badu’s most iconic songs, including the J Dilla-produced “Didn’t Cha Know.” Arguably her best-produced effort, Mama’s Gun played a key role in the Soulquarians era. In a short period of time, Badu, along with The Roots, D’Angelo, Common, Q-Tip, and others ushered in a movement of alternative hip-hop, jazz, and neo-soul. The album’s opener, “Penitentiary Philosophy” is a prime display of artistic minds coming together during a creative peak to make a legendary record. Erykah Badu’s seminal second album established her signature sound along with the help of close collaborators that would shape her future works. An all-time classic, Mama’s Gun was an era-defining album for R&B and soul.

Read More: Ari Lennox Shares The Unconventional Singing Advice Erykah Badu Gave Her

1. Baduizm (1997)

Mama’s Gun may be a close contender for Erykah Badu’s best album, but her debut album, Baduizm ranks high as her strongest release. The album showcased her unique voice and personality, creating a seamless vibe that was completely unmatched at the time. Featuring some of her best songwriting and arguably her best vocal performances, Baduizm has aged incredibly well. Hit singles like “On & On” and “Next Lifetime” have transcended the neo-soul label and have become some of Badu’s most classic songs. Undoubtedly one of the best albums of the ‘90s and arguably of all time, Baduizm continues to influence R&B and soul music today.

[via]

  • Link Copied to Clipboard!
About The Author
Wyatt Westlake is a writer from Somerville, MA. He has been writing about hip hop, RnB, and beyond for almost a decade, joining the HNHH team in 2023. Majoring in Communication Studies, he is currently finishing his BA at Temple University. Wyatt is also a radio presenter, hosting his own shows and curating eclectic playlists since 2019. An avid concert-goer, one all-time moment for him was when Dave brought him onstage to perform “Thiago Silva” in front of a sold-out crowd.