Worldwide Underground

Worldwide Underground
Studio album by Erykah Badu
Released September 16, 2003
Recorded 2003
Length 54:21
Label Motown
Producer Erykah Badu (exec.) Kedar Massenburg (exec.), James Poyser (co-exec.), Rashad "Ringo" Smith (co-exec.), R.C. Williams (co-exec.), Tom Soares (co-exec.)
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 lukewarm reviews from 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]

Release and reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Entertainment WeeklyB+[13]
Los Angeles Times[14]
Rolling Stone[18]
Slant Magazine[19]

Worldwide Underground was released on September 16, 2003, by Motown Records.[21] It debuted at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart in the week of October 4,[22] selling 143,561 copies in its first week.[23] 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.[24] By December 2003, the album had sold 394,000 copies domestically.[25] 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.[26] The second single "Danger" reached number 82 on the Hot 100 and number 27 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs,[27] while the third single "Back in the Day (Puff)" peaked at number 62 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[28] 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.[29] According to Nielsen SoundScan, the album has sold 609,000 copies in the United States.[30]

Worldwide Underground received generally lukewarm reviews from critics.[31] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 71, based on 14 reviews.[21] Andy Kellman from AllMusic said the record sounded "more like a weekend jam session than an endlessly labored-over, polished project. For the most part, this is a good thing".[2] PopMatters critic 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] Georgia Christgau from The Village Voice wrote 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."[32] Slant Magazine ranked the record number 90 on its list of the Best Albums of the Aughts.[33]

In a less enthusiastic review, Uncut deemed Worldwide Underground oft-interesting but too groove-oriented music,[20] while Blender observed "rambling, digital fiddling and self-indulgent sprawl here, but a sense of purpose, too, even as her lips move on autopilot."[12] Jon Caramanica from Rolling Stone was more critical and said apart from "Danger" and "Love of My Life Worldwide", most of the songs sounded aimless, "variations on some atmospheric theme ... slither[ing] along unthreateningly".[18]


Badu in 2005.

Badu embarked on the Worldwide Underground Tour in 2004.[34] 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.[35] 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.[36] 2006 was the final year for the outing.

The festival was 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. In August, Badu co-headlined dates with Jill Scott and Queen Latifah at the "Sugar Water Festival".[37]

Track listing

1."World Keeps Turnin' (Intro)"  Erykah BaduErykah Badu1:39
2."Bump It"  BaduBadu, James Poyser, Rashad Smith8:49
3."Back in the Day (Puff)"  BaduBadu, Poyser, Smith4:46
4."I Want You"  BaduBadu, Smith, Poyser10:53
5."Woo"  BaduBadu, R.C. Williams, Smith3:14
6."The Grind" (featuring Dead Prez), M-1Dead Prez, Badu, Smith2:49
7."Danger"  Badu, Poyser, R.C Williams, Poyser, SmithBadu, Poyser, R.C. Williams, Smith5:49
8."Think Twice"  Donald Byrd, BaduBadu, Poyser, Smith3:02
9."Love of My Life Worldwide" (featuring Queen Latifah, Bahamadia and Angie Stone)Queen Latifah, Angie Stone, BahamadiaBadu, R.C. Williams, Smith, Poyser5:25
10."World Keeps Turnin' (Outro)"  BaduBadu4:01



  • Erykah Badu – vocals, background vocals
  • Jazz Bell – background vocals
  • Sam Bell – background vocals
  • Chinah Blac – background vocals
  • Tisha Creer – background vocals
  • Doc Gibbs – percussion
  • Alfredo Gray – background vocals
  • Roy Hargrove – trumpet, vocals
  • Dwayne Kerr – flute
  • Lenny Kravitz – electric guitar

  • Bray Lon Lacy – bass, clapping
  • Robert Pack – background vocals
  • A. Pérez – background vocals
  • James Poyser – keyboard, group member
  • Rashad Smith – group member
  • Stic Man – vocals
  • Karen Wheeler – vocals
  • R.C. Williams – keyboard
  • Eevin Wright – clapping
  • Zap Mama – vocals


  • Producers: Dead Prez, Freakquency, Raphael Saadiq
  • Executive producers: Erykah Badu, Kedar Massenburg, James Poyser, Rashad Smith, Tom Soares, R.C. Williams
  • Engineer: Tom Soares
  • Assistant engineers: Shinobu Mitsuoka, Tim Olmstead
  • Mixing: Leslie Brathwaite, Tom Soares, Brian Stanley
  • Mastering: Robert Wechsler
  • Creative director: Sandy Brummels
  • Programming: James Poyser

  • Drum programming: Erykah Badu, Dead Prez, Rashad Smith
  • Arranger: Erykah Badu
  • Art direction: Erykah Badu, Kenny J. Gravillis
  • Drawing: Erykah Badu
  • Photography: Marc Baptiste
  • Make-up: Melanie Harris
  • Stylist: Carlton Jones
  • Vocal Coaching: Erykah Badu, Lis Lewis, David Angerstein


Weekly charts

Chart (2003) Peak
Netherlands Albums Chart 42
Switzerland Albums Chart 32
Swedish Albums Chart[38] 7
Austrian Albums Chart 64
UK R&B Albums Chart[39] 17
UK Albums Chart[40] 93
U.S. Billboard 200[22] 3
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[24] 2
U.S. Billboard Top Internet Albums[41] 3

Year-end charts

Chart (2003) Peak
US Billboard 200[42] 191


  1. 1 2 3 Neal, Mark Anthony. Review: Worldwide Underground. PopMatters. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  2. 1 2 3 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. 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. Archived April 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. badu targets dates for mama's gun 25, 20001
  10. Badu to make her Auditorium debut in
  11. Archived December 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. 1 2 "Erykah Badu, 'Worldwide Underground' (Motown)". Blender. Alpha Media Group (20): 114. October 2003.
  13. Blumenfeld, Larry. Review: Worldwide Underground. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  14. Nichols, Natalie. Review: Worldwide Underground. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  15. "Erykah Badu, 'Worldwide Underground' (Motown)". Mojo. Bauer (121): 109. December 2003.
  16. Beta, Andy. Review: Worldwide Underground. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2009-08-09.
  17. Q. London: 120. December 2003.
  18. 1 2 Caramanica, Jon. Review: Worldwide Underground. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  19. Cinquemani, Sal. Review: Worldwide Underground. Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
  20. 1 2 "Erykah Badu, 'Worldwide Underground' (Motown)". Uncut. IPC Media (80): 103. January 2004. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  21. 1 2 Worldwide Underground (2003): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
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  23. Farber, Jim. Newsline: DMX's 'Champ's' a Champ. New York Daily News. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  24. 1 2 Chart History: Worldwide Underground. Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  25. Columnist. Badu Plans 'Underground' Tour. Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  26. Chart History: Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop). Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  27. Chart History: Danger, Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  28. Chart History: Back in the Day (Puff). Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  29. Gold & Platinum – Searchable Database: Worldwide Underground. Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  30. Columnist. Badu Starts 'Nu' On Double-Disc Album. Billboard. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  31. Sanneh, Kelefa (October 5, 2003). "When Weird Works: Outkast and Erykah Badu". The New York Times. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
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  33. "Best of the Aughts: Albums". Slant Magazine. Retrieved February 10, 2010.
  34. badu plans underground
  35. Archived December 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
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  37. Sam Machkovech (August 3, 2006). "Sugar Water Festival". Dallas Observer. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  38. Erykah Badu, chart history on Swedish charts
  39. UK R&B Charts.UK R&B Charting Albums September (2003).
  40. Erykah Badu UK Albums Chart History.
  41. Billboard Charts: Worldwide Underground. Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
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