Personnel: Erykah Badu, Stic Man (vocals); Queen Latifah, Angie Stone, Bahamadiah (rap vocals); Lenny Kravitz (electric guitar); Dwayne Kerr (flute); Roy Hargrove (trumpet, background vocals); James Poyser (keyboards, programming); R.C. Williams (keyboards); Braylon Lacy (bass); Doc Gibbs (percussion); Rashad Smith, Dead Prez (programming); Zap Mama, Karon Wheeler, China Blac, Robert Pack, Sam Bell, Jazz Bell (background vocals).
Producers: Erykah Badu, James Poyser, Rashad Smith, Dead Prez.
WORLD WIDE UNDERGROUND was nominated for the 2004 Grammy Award for Best R&B Album. "Back In The Day" was nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. "Danger" was nominated for Best Urban/Alternative Performance and for Best R&B Song.
Despite being classified as an EP, the near 50-minute length of WORLD WIDE UNDERGROUND makes it closer to being Erykah Badu's fourth full-length outing. Inspired by the Frustrated Artist Tour that found this Texan crisscrossing the world in 2002, Badu uses a very groove-oriented and loosely defined approach towards these songs, thanks to the collaborative skills of her fellow members in the Freakquency team--James Poyser, Rashad "Ringo" Smith, and RC Williams.
The results range from the light and sensual flow of "Back in the Day," (featuring some crisp guitar licks by Lenny Kravitz) to "Bump It" with its mix of sprinkled in hip-hop beats, lightly layered synths, and a sweet mix of harmonies by Zap Mama and Karon Wheeler. Along the way, Badu must have been digging in the crates for inspiration, because she includes a hypnotic take on Donald Byrd's 1975 recording "Think Twice" (featuring tasty playing by trumpeter Roy Hargrove). Badu also serves up a remix of the Grammy-winning "Love of My Life Worldwide," built on the foundation of Sequence's 1979 hit "Funk You Up," which features cameos by Queen Latifah, Bahamadia, Badu alter-ego MC Apples, and Angie Stone (the original Angie B of Sequence).
Entertainment Weekly (9/19/03, p.86) - "Forget comparisons to Billie or Chaka--that craggy-yet-smooth croon is Erykah's own..." - Rating: B+
Uncut (1/04, p.103) - 3 stars out of 5 - "'Bump It' and 'I Want You' are horizontal synth-funk jams, with an enchantingly drowsy Badu scatting over the top....Frequently intoxicating."
Mojo (Publisher) (12/03, p.109) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[A]n 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..."