Thursday, November 19, 2015

mama's gun

Erykah Badu went through changes to work out emotional baggage and free minds from penitentiary philosophy in this clever conscious ascension.   She released her debut album Baduizm in 1997 (featuring the Grammy Award winning single "On & On"), which won a Grammy for Best R&B Album and went triple platinum.    She recorded the double platinum  Live  while pregnant with her son Seven (the father was Outkast's AndrĂ© Benjamin); and the album came out later that year when he was born.  She took some time off with her new son; and, in 1999, she won another Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for her collaboration with The Roots on  "You Got Me" from their album Things Fall Apart.  

'Mama's Gun' was produced with the  Soulquarian musical collective at Electric Lady Studios in New York City.  D'Angelo's Voodoo and Common's Like Water for Chocolate were being recorded there at the same time with engineer Russell Elevado using vintage equipment to achieve a warmer throwback soul sound.  Badu took on a more active production role:   "Each [song] I had to take a lot of time on and make sure everything was right on it before I let it go. That's why it took so long. I mean, I was producing, as well as writing, as well as singing, and directing the video, I mean, all things I chose to do. And every time I would complain, people would say, 'Well, you said you wanted to do it all!' and I'd be like, 'I know, I know.' It was a one-woman show this time, but it was great. It was a good experience. And I got it all done! I got it all done. It wasn't on time. But it was on time, you know what I'm saying?...[It was] definitely more complicated [writing and producing]. I mean, I was the one calling the shots, but I had a lot of people who were involved with playing music and coming up with ideas, and helping out and adding to the project. All the creativity had to come from me, which was very hard. So if I had studio time booked, and locked out for a week to finish the album and I had no ideas, I mean, the day I mastered the album, I had just finished two songs. I just came straight from the studio to master it. I didn't get to hear it or critique it or anything. So it just came that day. It's kind of hard, doing it all yourself. When you don't have, like, a lyric writing team and all that." 

The sessions featured  Erykah Badu on vocals, background vocals, production, and art direction;    Leonard "Doc" Gibbs on percussion;   Larry Gold on cello and string arrangements;   Roy Hargrove on trumpet and horn arrangements;   Pino Palladino on bass;   Emma Kummrow  on violin;   Shaun Martin on keyboards;  Roy Ayers on vibraphone;   Peter Nocella on viola;   Charles Parker and Gregory Teperman on violin;   Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson on drums;   Bilal Oliver, Geno "Junebugg" Young, and Yahzarah on background vocals.   Betty Wright was a songwriter. vocalist, and arranger.   The production team included executives Erykah Badu, Kedar Massenburg, and James Poyser; as well as Questlove, J Dilla, Snook Young, Shawn Martin, Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, and Karma Productions ( Ivan "Orthodox" Barias and Carvin "Ransum" Haggins).   

Badu reveals:   "Most of the time, you don't even know your mamma have a gun, you know? And when she pulls it out, and shows it to you, it's something serious. And the way life is to me right now, we're at a very detrimental time. Our sons and daughters are going to need something to take with them for protection. So they can put my album in they holster, or on they lap, or on they seat. It would be a better thing to have, you know? So that's the explanation...It's hard to explain [how I've changed]. I have a two-year-old son, and I see him every day, so I can't see really how tall he's gotten. But other people can. I can tell I'm in a different place than Baduizm, but I don't know exactly how far...I see the world differently now. Actually, when I first had the baby, I was breast-feeding him for two years straight. So we were together for two years of his life, every single day, all hours of the day. So I was two people, and I eventually morphed back into one. Now he's like a part of me. He's very independent as a result of it, and I was worried about the opposite. I was very worried that he was going to be so attached, since we were together every day, but I guess it made him feel comfortable, you know, 'She's around all the time, she's here for me.' It made me feel like a very responsible person. You know, tidy, you know, and now my health is better, because I'm now responsible for someone's whole reason for being. That helped... I'm very interested in metaphysics, science, spirituality, and the occult, or anything like that. I'm not satisfied with the explanations I get from tv or from school. I mean, it just seems like, no, not that it seems, but there is so much more to the universe and to us. So I just studied, and memorized. I might go out and look for information like that. Sometimes people will give me books, more so now than before. You know, being in the entertainment business, people will think they know you and what you're interested in. I've gotten so many books and paintings and cards with ankhs, candles, and incense that I'll have enough to read until at least a hundred. I'm interested in it, and I feel that it's good to share information...Personally, I don't choose any particular religion or symbol or group of words or teachings to define me. That's between me and the most high. You know, my higher self. The Creator. But I do learn a lot from each thing, because everything is necessary. We're all here for a reason, not just to group up with your own group. I'll have more information next album on that...Some would call me a women's liberalist. I mean, I don't think so. I think I'm speaking from a woman's perspective, and I just happen to be a woman. I know more about women's issues than men's issues. And I'm speaking to brothers on there, too. There's a song called "Time's A Wastin'". But, I mean, the album's for everybody, really. But I do have more practice with women's situations than men's."

'Mama's Gun' shot to number seventy-six on the UK pop chart, fifty-six in Austria, thirty-three in Switzerland, nineteen in Sweden, eleven on the UK R&B chart and on the US pop chart, seven in the Netherlands, and number three on the US R&B album chart.  

"Bag Lady" was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.  Badu says:   "Uh, I wrote "Bag Lady" a few years ago. After Baduizm, in '97, so about two and a half years ago, right after I finished Baduizm, when I started my live show. I actually started writing it because I was inspired by my own personal growth. You know, I was happy I was able to assess things a little bit better. And I figured out that the reason I couldn't get through the day as well as I can now is because I had too many things on my mind, on my plate, you know, for one person to have. So I started to eliminate some of the things that were too heavy to carry and unnecessary. So that's where the words came from. Actually, it started with a melody I was humming, and usually the words find they place, they be waiting to get on a song. So they just kind of come through me some kind of way. I mean, they can use the album for whatever they need or what they want. Hopefully my music is medicine, some type of antidote for something or some kind of explanation or just to feel good." 

"Penitentiary Philosophy"
Badu reflects:   "Penitentiary Philosophy", when I think of the title, Mama's Gun, I saw the album artwork, I just felt like that should be first. The reason I wrote that song, the music came first, of course, it was a session that James Poyser, Ahmir Thompson from the Roots, Pino Palladino, and I were in. Three peeps and me, we were just clowning around, and we're like, 'Hey, let's do this...' and I freestyled the lyrics. The first draft was very close to what you hear now. I knew the reason for the song but I didn't know what it meant yet. I just found that out. "Penitentiary Philosophy", we lock ourselves into our own philosophies, our own religions, our own walks of life, and if we fail, we condemn ourselves and then we get sick. I think that if we can find a way to clear our minds free and be a little freer and not lock ourselves into things, because I think we're afraid of change. I think a lot of people have lost respect for the individual, you know, the individual, the person who doesn't conform. It's a jail. It's like, if you don't be this way when you go to work, so and so is gonna talk about you. If I don't do this, someone was like, 'We live a commercial every day for the world.' It's unnecessary. And I'm tired of doing it. So I wanted to write a song about it. 

"Didn't Cha Know?" was nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Song


'Mama's Gun' 
full album:

1. "Penitentiary Philosophy"   Erykah Badu, James Poyser,
Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson   6:09
2. "Didn't Cha Know?"   Badu, James Yancey   3:58
3. "My Life"   Badu, Poyser   3:59
4. "...& On"   Badu, Jahmal Cantero, Shaun Martin   3:34
5. "Cleva"   Badu, Poyser, Yancey   3:45
6. "Hey Sugah"   Badu, N'dambi   0:54
7. "Booty"   Badu   4:04
8. "Kiss Me on My Neck (Hesi)"   Badu, Jack DeJohnette, Poyser, Yancey   5:34
9. "A.D. 2000"   Badu, B.J. Wright   4:51
10. "Orange Moon"   Badu, Brah Lon Lacy, Martin,
Eugene "Snooky" Young   7:10
11. "In Love with You" (featuring Stephen Marley) Badu, Marley   5:21
12. "Bag Lady"   Badu, Brian Bailey, Ricardo Brown,
Nathan Hale, Isaac Hayes, Craig Longmiles, S. Martin, Andre Young   5:48
13. "Time's a Wastin'"   Badu, Young, Martin   6:42
14. "Green Eyes"   Badu, Vikter Duplaix, Poyser   10:04

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