A true tour de force, Mama's Gun is that rare sophomore album that shows a maturing artist at her best. Erykah Badu's voice was always her main attraction--its unique sound has been compared to Billie Holiday and Chaka Kha... more »n. Here, it's her skill with that voice that shines. Badu shapes her instrument to suit her material (all of it written or cowritten by her). A full range is represented: On faster, danceable tracks like "Penitentiary Philosophy" and "Booty," she sounds gritty and funky. On softer, more introspective tracks, like "A.D. 2000" and the single "Bag Lady," she shows amazing restraint, letting her voice travel lightly over the notes, allowing the songs' emotions to guide her performance. The high point of the disc is Badu's duet with Stephen Marley, "In Love with You," easily the sweetest, truest love song of the year. That alone is reason enough to buy the disc--and you won't regret having done so. --Courtney Kemp« less
A true tour de force, Mama's Gun is that rare sophomore album that shows a maturing artist at her best. Erykah Badu's voice was always her main attraction--its unique sound has been compared to Billie Holiday and Chaka Khan. Here, it's her skill with that voice that shines. Badu shapes her instrument to suit her material (all of it written or cowritten by her). A full range is represented: On faster, danceable tracks like "Penitentiary Philosophy" and "Booty," she sounds gritty and funky. On softer, more introspective tracks, like "A.D. 2000" and the single "Bag Lady," she shows amazing restraint, letting her voice travel lightly over the notes, allowing the songs' emotions to guide her performance. The high point of the disc is Badu's duet with Stephen Marley, "In Love with You," easily the sweetest, truest love song of the year. That alone is reason enough to buy the disc--and you won't regret having done so. --Courtney Kemp
"Just before recording Mama's Gun, Erykah's longtime relationship with Outkast's Andre 3000 came to an end. Like any artist dealing with a breakup, her pain and heartache became the focus of her work. This album isn't that dark or self pitying, but it is raw and honest. Not to mention relatable.
The straight outta Woodstock opener Penitentiary Philosophy is a fiery funkfest decrying the ills of the world and instead calling for unity. The mystical Didn't Cha Know finds Erykah confused about where she's going in her life. "Think I made a wrong turn back there somewhere."
She gains confidence on the optimistic My Life ("When my freedom comes along/I'm gonna run, chile/Cuz I know that I'll go far") and pokes fun at her often misunderstood lyrics on ...& On. "What good do your words/if they can't understand you?/Don't go talkin' that [stuff], Badu!" she playfully chides herself.
The feel good cut Cleva encourages a healthy body image and self-esteem. So what if your "ninnys sag down low" or your clothes aren't the latest fashion? Always remember that you're enough and don't fear spiritual growth. Great vibes from the incomparable Roy Ayers!
After the breezy Hey Sugah interlude, Erykah gets some 'tude on the marching band styled Booty. Apparently rumors have been spread that Erykah's been seeing another woman's man. After being confronted by the girlfriend, Badu lets her know that she could have him if she wanted to, but she doesn't. "I don't want him/Cuz of what he doin' to you/And you don't need him/Cuz the boy ain't ready!" It turns the overplayed "I'll take yo' man!" cliche on it's head.
The funkadelic Kiss Me On My Neck is about wanting to be loved again. "I want somebody to walk up behind me/And kiss me on my neck/And breathe on my neck!" A.D. 2000 is a dedication to the slain Amadou Diallo. Although there are only a few lines, Erykah and Betty Wright's (remember The Clean Up Woman?) vocals get carried away by the flow of the music and that's why it's so good. "No, you won't be namin' no buildings after me/My name will be mistated/Surely."
The late night crickets enhance the sleepy jazz vibe of Orange Moon. "I'm an orange moon/Reflecting the light of the sun." Erykah has a great duet partner in Stephen Marley on the sweet love song In Love With You.
Bag Lady is the key track and while different from the single mix, it's even more powerful. Erykah calls all the figurative bag ladies who carry the pain and sadness of past relationships to drop their baggage in order to move on. Her repeated chants "betcha love can make it better" emphasize the importance of healing and forgiveness. If you're going through a difficult time in life or love, "you'll feel so much better, baby" after hearing this song.
The melodic Time's A Wastin' is dedicated to Erykah's little boy Seven. She encourages him to never let his focus change and learn from his past so he can grow into a strong man. "Oh baby/We need your smile!"
Green Eyes tackles the constantly shifting emotions one goes through after a breakup. Erykah at first claims indifference after learning her man has moved on, but later admits she's insecure and unsure of whether or not she wants him back. Eventually she accepts that things will never be what they once were and she's on the road to healing. It's amazing how much she sounds like Diana Ross a la Lady Sings The Blues in the first part of the song.
Mama's Gun might be an acquired taste to some, but it's one of Badu's greatest albums and a superb concept album charting the drama of love and loss."
A Masterpiece!!!! My All Time Favorite Album
San Diego Fan | San Diego, CA | 03/30/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Back in 2000 when this album was originally released I played this album so much that my husband had to threaten me he'd break it if I played it anymore. That's how good this album is. There just isn't 1 bad track on the entire album. 14 great tracks from beginning to end, a true masterpiece. I believe with all my heart that Erykah wrote this album primarily for women, to make them to step back and examine their lives, maybe even make them stronger. I admit, there are a few songs on this album that are not just great they are true works of art/strokes of genius...Orange Moon and Green Eyes. It's still hard for me to listen to Green Eyes even today without crying, because you can feel Erykah's pain over her break-up with Andre Benjamin. All of her pain exposed for the world to see. That takes guts, depth, something you can only expect from the worldly Ms. Badu. The only artist we see today that is true to herself."
Review from [...]
J. Weiss | Los Angeles | 04/21/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think Erykah Badu has gone crazy and I don't get what she's going for lately. But Mama's Gun is a Masterpiece. Not her most commercially successful album, but clearly her best work. This album is diverse, explores many paths soul music can go, expressing each different genre with more creativity and expertise than most musicians focused only on each genre. The journey starts off with dirty funk rock soul, moves into mellow funky tribal R&B soul, get's progressively more hip hop with a 70s edge, before abandoning that sound and getting stripped down to finish the second half on a gorgeous acoustic jazz soul sound. I like the 2nd half better. Notice the intro to the 10 minute final song "Green Eyes" and how it transitions into a different song. This album is genius, unfortunately geniuses tend to go crazy sooner or later."
How Good It Is!
Aaron Stack | Atlanta | 08/18/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In this day and age rarely do we honestly use the description "masterpiece" properly...Ms. Badu's muse has earned her that praise with Mama's Gun. This album is easily Badu's most honest and poignant collection to date; songs such as Green Eyes, Orange Moon, and Didn't Cha Know go straight to the bone lyrically...this album is the sound of a great artist reaching for and often times grasping her own unique sound. Why review a album this many years after it's initial release? Honestly because it deserves it.