Much like our ‘Retro Rewind’ and ‘From the Vault’ segments, readers of That Grape Juice know what avid music lovers we are – especially of hits past. So in a quest to re-spin the gems and jams of yesterday we introduced a new retrospective segment – ‘TGJ Replay’.
Unlike its ‘Rewind’ and ‘Vault’ predecessors, ‘Replay’ looks to dust off and showcase albums (and eras) from a library of pop music hits. With the album many attribute to the popularization of the late 90s neo-soul movement, this week’s ‘Replay’ revisits Erykah Badu‘s prized debut album ‘Baduizm’.
In a musical landscape dominated by hip hop and booty-shaking heauxs, R&B was seeing itself move from its slow-jam fueled resurgence of the early 90s and embrace the more bass driven genre – with more and more numbers becoming fused with hip hop heavy sounds.
And, while some saw it as progression and others as conformity, there were still a slew of artists that believed R&B’s future should be an ode to its past. In a movement coined “neo-soul”, artists like Maxwell & D’Angelo fronted a return of early 70s-styled rhythm & blues and, with the incorporation of then-modern R&B stylings, birthed a new genre.
But, if those crooners helped lay the foundation, then a certain Miss Erykah Badu unquestionably laid the bricks & stones with her groundbreaking debut album ‘Baduizm’. Led by the jazz-infused number ‘On & On’…
Badu brought a cool unseen in R&B chicks before her…bringing to masses the rebirthed popularity of poetry and rhythmic stylings made famous in underground jazz clubs across the country.
Erykah was a walking homage to African American history, adorning that signature headwrap that seemed to serve as a crown. For, indeed, neo-soul’s matronly monarch had arrived…
The album would go on to a million copies within two months of its debut and earn the songstress two Grammys – confirmation that the late 90s R&B leading lady had arrived. She, along with Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, India Arie, and many more would act as the top poetess’s of popular music – adding substance to the stylistic genre R&B had become. Interestingly, Badu continues to be neo-soul’s heartbeat in an era where it seems to be on life support.
Join us in honoring the Queen (who just celebrated her 42nd birthday last week)…