TuneDig is an in-depth and informed conversation between two lifelong friends about the power of music — one album at a time.

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Episode 42

Mama's Gun

Erykah Badu

Y’all tryna raise your vibrations? Erykah Badu is here to help. Season 6 kicks off with a meditation on realness and what being on “your own wavelength” really means. (Spoiler: it ain’t a single frequency — it’s a whole spectrum.)


Note: our transcripts are mostly AI-generated for now. 

Cliff: You’re listening to TuneDig, a conversation between two lifelong friends about the power of music, one album at a time. I’m Cliff Seal.

Kyle: And I’m Kyle Stapleton. Each episode we talk about a single album in depth, unpacking it through conversation to understand what makes it worth appreciating and learning a little bit about life along the way.

Cliff: If you’re listening for the first time because we’re covering an artist or a record you love, we promise you’ll learn something new or gain a new perspective by the end of the episode.

Kyle: And if you’ve stuck with us for multiple episodes, you know by now that you’re bound to expand your horizons. As we share a clear entry points for artists you may never have tried to get into before.

Cliff: Today, we’re talking about mama’s gun by Erica Badu 

Kyle: Well, buddy feels good to be back doing this.

We’ve occupied our time with plenty of stuff. 

Cliff: Welcome to season 6 66. We’ve been excited about this for awhile. 

Kyle: Uh, a lot has changed with us and, in the world. um,

but I, I have been looking forward to this very much and it personally, it feels better. Every time we come back to do this, I like feel sharpened in what I want to get out of this.

Uh, Ms. Tracy, it’s been like four years or something at this point, and we’re still just hanging out and talking about records 

Cliff: Almost four years. I was trying to figure it out the other day. 

Kyle: but like we, This is mess around and become almost a spiritual exercise for me. not to not to put too much weight on it at all, but, um,

I’ve like, I have found some real purpose in this thing. and I think that makes the record that we’re going to talk about today. pretty appropriate Cause it is all about,

energy and spirit and raising your vibrations. uh, 

Cliff: and things that are hard to understand and dissects that’s right. 

Kyle: So, you know, talking about, Erica Badu, um, somebody we thought we maybe understood and very much did not. We found out sweet Freston It’s been a very fun one to like banter back and forth this we prepared, uh, I think one of the first impressions that I had is how deeply personal

this record is for so many people.

Yeah. Um, 

Cliff: Had a bit of a repeat of like the miseducation of Lauryn hill phenomenon. Yeah. Where we pushed into it a little bit and then found out like, oh, there’s like a depth of experience here that I haven’t even begun to explore that other people can tell me about. 

Kyle: that’s. Right. Um, And specifically we are doing this episode.

I don’t I don’t think it’s unfair to say we’re doing this. because of just sent to Howard because it was brought to our attention by her, through her partner, Mike Jordan, who is our homie from Atlanta.

Um, Of Mike Jordan, of butter ATL. they listen to? the voodoo episode and She said, all right, when are they doing? Mama’s cotton? And that felt like a personal, personal challenge. 

Cliff: I think, I think even then we might’ve responded with the like, oh cool. So we can finally like solve this thing that keeps get broadened up where, uh, people ask us if we would ever do this or body wisdom. And w w th there’s there is no good answer. So we didn’t have a good answer. And this one sort of broke the tie.

Kyle: that’s true. That’s true. We knew we wanted to cover her 

Cliff: of this record in general is like, hold on. What are the differences between those two? And why would there be an opinion, you know, 

Kyle: Yeah. and and then leave well alone, everything that has come since those.

two records, which is, you know, its own college class probably. Um, but you know, if you are listening to this right now, I it’s probably fair to assume that you being a person.

alive on the earth at this time, it’s been a challenging couple of years. Um, it’s been like six months or so since we put out anything new, uh, with the podcast about music, that’s really the podcast about life And how to live in it.

And I hope that by the end of this episode, my hope is that

it’s a helpful tool for somebody to like reground in feeling good about moving forward in the world and and raising your vibrations. Like I experienced a lot of

emotions and thoughts and reflections over the course of getting to know this record, going to going from zero to 60 with this record that I thought I had a great sense of. And, uh, you know, we, we’ve had so many different versions of the, like, I have a new appreciation for not only this artist and what they were trying to do, but for music in general and for the radical act of creativity and the miracle of existence and The spark and all that, but it’s like, yes, it’s all of that, but it doesn’t, need to be all that serious.

the headline is I hope you will sit with this record and be very present and just like, remember to love yourself.

again a little bit. And I think that that’s what Erica would want to, 

Cliff: And I think what’s surprised me relative to that idea, right. Is like with everything that is going everything, just like gestures broadly, right. Uh, with everything that’s going on, it can really feel like there is a, just a constant hum of if. I don’t think I’m overstating things here. Shit, just a constant hum of terrible, terrible shit.

Um, and it’s really hard to find the places where things are getting better. Like we know how to be positive as an exercise, 

Kyle: Right? 

Cliff: but we would kind of be lying not to say that there’s always something to tune into right now specifically that’s just actively bad. And so like when that happens, 

Kyle: it’s very easy not to do.

the exercise. 

Cliff: And so to cheaply borrow, I guess a lot of spiritual thought, like when you’re noticing that about yourself, to your point about frequency, it’s time to turn the. Like you got to get quiet and look for something else now. Um, and that doesn’t mean that everything is okay. It means you as a person or like loving yourself enough to tune into something else while you still exist inside of that.

Hum. You know? And so like to me, like, uh, an example of that playing out on this record and really sitting with it is like, it certainly feels like a time where I would most be into penitentiary philosophy and instead green ice. Right? Like it took a while it re I was telling you this before we started recording, it really honestly took me a while to really feel like I could sit with mama’s gun in.

Forget talking about it on a podcast, like even just like talking to anybody else about it casually, I felt like I couldn’t quite get it. There was like dissonance with it. And only through sitting with it a long time, some repetition, some openness, and then towards like, honestly, like changing my setting.

Right. Uh, I changed what I listened on. I changed the order of the songs and all that stuff. And what, you know, what ends up coming out is me actually sitting with the more emotional songs, which like, we like to laugh about a lot. Um, those are generally not the ones that I, that I connect with a time.

Kyle: That’s my move.

Cliff: That’s right. Um, but instead, just like being able to sit with it this long mint that I, I mean, I ended up having a totally different experience of this record than I had any of the other times that I’d ever heard it. Um, and so that, that idea of like how. Yeah. How can we find the frequency at all right now where we can tune into anything that makes us happy or introspective or whatever.

I mean, that 

Kyle: or just more us. 

Cliff: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Happy in the sense that we’re more fully ourselves, right? Like, 

Kyle: centered. 

Cliff: yeah. And

this record is such great practice for being able to tune into a frequency at all. Like you can use this album to do it, but it is also about tuning in to a frequency that no one else has on which Erica Badu has definitely been on, um, for a good portion of her life and is in his operating and vibrating at something different entirely.


Kyle: She has a super power that set for sure. 

Cliff: Yeah. In that, in that, even that sense of like, Personal certainty in a context of newness or new experiments or whatever, like that really hits home on this record, as well as one that, um, and I’m excited to talk about this some, but like, you know, this is a record that gets talked about as a Neo soul record, or Erica Badu gets talked about as a Neocell album, which gets bundled in with D’Angelo and common and all of that, that may be true, but that is not the story of this record.

And there are a lot of stories about this record that are not the story of this record, uh, and 

Kyle: and To the point that you. And I like, there’s a lot of ink about this record,

I would say relatively speaking overall, but you and I both got to a point where we were like, why, why isn’t there more about this record? And, And it, we realized that it wasn’t in fact that it was just that everybody was saying the same shit and it wasn’t going deeper than the first level. And it’s maddening. And there’s a whole host of 

Cliff: Yeah. Like everyone tuned into one frequency coming out of this record in it’s there are many, um, Erica Badu, like we said, is on her own. You can join her there, but like what, even what I’m trying to say here is like, man, this was a really, uh, enlivening experience with this record in a way that a lot of other ones aren’t where it really did allow me to feel differently about the same songs, the same record, but the same guitar licks.

Like I could really shift around the way I was experiencing it and the way I felt about it. Uh, but what was different than a lot of other records we talk about, it’s not really an intellectual journey about the specifics of the music itself at that point. 

Kyle: right. 

Cliff: Which is, I think why it can get mixed in with all the Neo soul stuff, because like that is the right ethos, uh, is to get lost in there and let things come up as they will, you know, jam out and whatever and, uh, and see what shakes out of putting people together.

But that doesn’t mean that there’s not a ton of layers here, uh, that can be studied almost from your heart, if that makes enough sense. Yeah. 

Kyle: Um, it’s, you know, it’s probably just like,

using different words to talk about the same God or whatever, but, um, you’re right about the Neo soul ecosystem, same ethos thing. like, you’re not wrong to, to talk about her being, part of that thing.

And like, I think you’re hitting at something. Um, but what really unlocked it for me and allowed me to start to get there because I was a little different than you in the sense. that I w I just caught the vibe immediately, but and I would put it on every Saturday afternoon.

at infinitum and just like, have it on and vibe and be like, man, this is a great record, but never really sat with why I thought why. Um, 

Cliff: a great background record. We’ll make, make sure we can say that for sure 

Kyle: as good as possible. background 

Cliff: We’ll talk about the active experience of it, but yeah, also a super good 

Kyle: for like 

Cliff: a smoking record, a bathtub record.

Any of 

Kyle: great hanging out by herself record, but a great, like, if you want everybody in your party at your house, at a certain vibration and excellent record to have on around people and, and not just because it feels good and it sets the right energy but you’re going to get the right kind of people, like people who know that are like, oh shit, it’s mama’s gun.

Good people, Good, good good stuff.

Good selects. Um, the thing that unlocked it for me was. I learned recently. So in addition to her pandemic livestream stuff, that she’s been doing, she specifically did two hour long guided meditations, one for NTS radio, which is like One of the few music, things worth giving your subscription money to every month.

I I’ve never regretted it. Um, and one for the Headspace app and thinking about this thing, like an intentional direction of energy of diffuse thoughts, cause lyrically, it was record goes everywhere. It’s about every feeling that you could have under the sun. Good love, bad love, societal and political stuff. Uh, personal, emotional, whatever. I mean, how the record starts with like her whispering in her monologue stuff.

 And They’re all overlapping. And they’re not really discernible, unless you, turn them up. so I think that tells you 

Cliff: you a 

Kyle: At foregrounds, everything you need to know about. the record. It’s like, I got a bunch of diffuse thoughts and things got much a multitudes going on.

in my head and in my spirit. And I just need to like pull it all in. Right. And then it goes from immediately from those little whispers overlapping each other to just one inhale, pull it all in focus, like woo like scream thing. Right. It was like, all right. Nope. We’re gonna, we’re here now to do the thing dearly beloved we gathered here today and, and it’s just, we’re in the exercise now.

and We’re going to see where it goes. And I love that. 

Cliff: I want to call out something we’ll probably return to, but it’s as good a time as any to mention it. I, uh, let’s have fun. I take issue with the order of this record, uh, now, because I take issue with artists being able to choose for herself what the order of the record should be.

Cause I know that she was very hands-on about. But I bring it up more to say, I take issue with it in the sense that like, it was really hard to connect in the order that it’s in, which surprised me again. Cause like, if you tell me the funk song is at the top, I’m pretty, pretty sure I’ll like it top to bottom then.

And it just, I don’t know why I couldn’t connect with it and always like pointing out when that happens, when we cover these records because of how I know how common the, uh, phenomenon is, where you start a record, just like, all right, we’ll start. And we’ll see how this goes. And if the first one or two aren’t hitting it for you, you’re out of there.

Right. And 

Kyle: especially in the, I have to drive to a physical. place and buy a physical piece of thing era. Right. It’s getting tossed out. the window, 

Cliff: But what’s, what’s distinct about this, I think is it’s, it’s not the first two songs or the first panful of songs or whatever are bad. Uh, no, literally like I just, um, by hopping down to, I ended up with a couple of examples of places to hop in that made a huge difference to me, but like either hopping in, on Hayes, sugar from there and going through like booty and kiss me on my neck and all that.

And then just going straight through the rest of the album and then only adding the songs before that, like at the very end. So like clever is the last song, um, like that works really well for me. Uh, or even hopping in with bag lady. So you kind of start with a weirder vibe. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well 

Kyle: version, of bag lady or the remix. 

Cliff: this version.


Kyle: Um, 

Cliff: But I wanted to draw it out because I found myself like really shocked by when I would play with the order. I, I loved it. I loved songs that I didn’t like as much better now, because one reason that’s fun to play with in general too, is like her transition here are, are nuts. I’m like I heard some examples of, or I heard some references to this being more like go-go music in the sense of like, you know, go, go with the literal definition of it, being more, just like songs, like songs on top of songs that don’t really end and just flow into the next one.

And there’s so much of that here, um, that it takes on this kind of different flavor when you start with a different portion of it and let different portions of those songs kind of go into one another. 

Kyle: and do the transitions still kind of work. 

Cliff: Yeah. Yeah. 

Kyle: That’s 

Cliff: And that’s why I kind of brought out that, like I did them almost in chunks, so it’s not like a reordered every song, but when instead, just start at a different point in the record and then let it cycle back up to the top.

Um, so that worked well, it kept all the transitions in place and all of the kind of interest sequencing that I’m sure that she did. Like there, there are definitely songs that like belong together. Um, and so I still love 

Kyle: the whole jam ban of like, 

Cliff: uh, 

Kyle: my life right. Symbol, right. Carrot symbol, uh, and on right? Carrot symbol.

clever like, Oh,

yeah, man.

She did the, let’s do the tweezer thing. sorry. to, uh, invoke Fish in any way

in contrast to this. 

Cliff: You’re cool. If you didn’t catch that reference.

Kyle: Yeah. 

Cliff: Sorry. Go.

Kyle: Not as sorry as I am fish exists. 

Cliff: Okay, well, have a moment of silence for your crab. 

Kyle: you know, the more that I started paying attention, And like really trying to catch moments because I’m so guilty of, I will let a record ride for years. And say that I really love it. And all I really mean is I love the way that it makes me feel.

and I haven’t studied it at all. And I don’t have a real relationship with it.

I asked my best friend. like, well, what’s his last name? Um, with people in your real life, I would totally be guilty of that. I would totally be the guy in iron maiden shirt didn’t know, run to the Hills, But, but with cliff like I got to think really hard sometimes even with you, like what’s Cliff’s middle name? Um, I dunno, I just I go through life like ODI the dog. and it’s great. Um, but the transition moments are great to me. and I think the. 

Cliff: AHRQ 

Kyle: it’s so interesting to me because the arch feels right. coming out hot feels really indicative of a live show.

Penitentiary philosophy is like, that is such a come out and the lights come up and I drop the curtain from the front of the stage. I mean, it’s a, you can hear the liveliness. the, I can’t wait to go see that at the Fox theater immediately. Right. And so you want to experience the energy of it in a in a kind of communal way.

Like you can hear the group in that. and maybe it’s just cause a bunch of people shout right at the beginning. Um, but then you get into the, my life and on clever chunk where it goes for 20 minutes and just vibes. but like, those are really tight Sequences where you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. And then, the. Kissed me on my neck, 82,000 orange moon in love with you bag lady. It’s like, that’s a hell of a stretch like that on its own is ship it That’s the record. You know what I mean? But I think it’s really interesting that right around the middle, it gets into that. Like the band’s going to go backstage for a minute and we’re going to bring it down for the ladies or whatever. And it’s the quiet I’ll bring out the acoustic guitar thing.

To me, everything is in its right place. If it feels like the hour and a little bit of change that this is, feels like a live set exactly the way that I would. want to see it. Right. And I don’t really know how to parse out the feeling of, uh, this record works in sequence versus this is an exact record that I would. want to see live, You know, and a lot of bands are doing the,

anniversary, playing the record front back. and like, it’s cool. Cause that’s the record as a capsule, but something about this just works. because it’s the way that she wanted it to be, presented. I think it is a little bit chaotic, good all over, but knowing what, how she labored over sequencing and that like she thought she had it. and the first

CD pressing of this was like not the right track order. that she landed on. and so there’s a pressing.

out there that’s in a different order. And then she wound up. 

Cliff: I, I was listening to a podcast. We’ll have to link it up. Cause I can’t remember when it is off the top of my head, but I was listening to an episode with a bunch of people who love this record. And one person who genuinely had had that version and had no idea that that was like the wrong track listing.

And like, if you can just imagine being like, if someone recorded you discovering that one of your favorite records was like not the same version that everyone else knew about. It was really astonishing. Don’t listen. Uh, because it it’s a whole new world opened 

Kyle: It’s been so long since we talked about it. that I don’t remember if I mentioned this but when we did dummy by Portis head, I had the astounding discovery that iTunes didn’t have the track numbers.

And, um, and that

I had had it in alphabetical order. So biscuit and glory box for like the first two songs and they end the record and I still love it. It’s so one of My favorite. records, but It it definitely impacts my ability. Till it get through the whole thing, when it just opens on numb or a totally different, vibe. and I feel like it’s supposed to open with best yet. So I, I get that. man, once it gets into your bones, like there’s, there’s nothing you can do about it. I’m glad that I didn’t have.

a Santa Claus. Isn’t real moment on, on the air. So to speak. 

Cliff: Well, one thing I thought about is I bet that coming from Baidu ism to this record was a little bit like that moment of shock in general. That is one place where having penitentiary philosophy first is like objectively the correct choice to go ahead. And just this record 

Kyle: Clear. Yeah. Sage Sage, your headphones. Yeah. 

Cliff: It’s it was while hopping back and forth between the two and trying to put myself back into the.

Uh, I was not a big enough Erica Badu fan at the time to have gotten this record when it came out. Right. So just trying to imagine, what would it have been like to have loved body wisdom in like anticipate this and then hear it for the first time? Um, cause it, that was one of the more fascinating bits I think about this being this little, this little narrative thread, all in and of itself, like this little record called mama’s gun, that is from this incredible woman.

Who’s writing a record for her kid basically. Cause mama’s gun is referring to like these words being her kid’s gun, which he would say later into like she’s a first-time parent, she’s going through all these relationships situations. She’s young. Like we all are like, that’s always a thread that we talk about in music is like anything.

Anyone that’s, uh, like a teenager in the early twenties is like writing stuff. It’s just like, think about what what’s going on in your life then. Uh, but it is, it’s really fascinating to hear even the production differences between body wisdom and this one to the point to where like the, the discussion and the argument around which one is better or preferred, just kind of became absurd.

And it’s sad that that’s where like, understanding all of the different places where Erica Badu and this album kind of touched and influenced was really opened things up for me from like a, a study of the impact of the record perspective. If that makes enough sense, like, like we do not talk enough about how much this record in particular influenced a lot of people, uh, and her as an artist, for sure.

Um, like her impact is everywhere and you can see artists talk about. 

Kyle: about it, 

Cliff: But it’s almost like the, the whole phenomenology around this record is just like, not enough. It’s not representative of how much it actually did and how much is kind of contained in here. And yet that is appropriate coming from Erica Badu.

Kyle: I think the way that we grown up in Atlanta, have seen

Andre 3000, which I know is an interesting person to invoke in the context of this record, seeing how he is very explicitly influenced hip hop and rock and roll and kind of everything with just his his whole, aura being one of like, you have permission to be weird, you know, you don’t have to be a preset mold.

Um, and he walked even so that Kanye could fly. And then after Kanye came scores of others, right? Body was that too. And. like, Doesn’t get the flowers for it outside of kind of rigid genre, community of Neo soul, which is like, if I’m being super honest. I had a little bit of a hard time taking seriously because.

You see a sort of archetype of a person or a community around it. Like, you know what it’s going to be. It’s going to be like the really smart people from your college. They go there, They go down to the coffee house, and they do the poetry reading or whatever. And it’s like, I get, I feel like I get your deal, man. So I I only need X amount cap of it. Um, and so that’s why I really hesitate to put her in a

genre box or almost disparage her with the thing that She kind of invented just by being herself. She’s a, she’s a genre of one. Um, and you could say very much the same thing about Andre. Like it’s, it’s very unfair to call outcast hip hop, uh, in the same way that unfair to call this Neo soul, Um, or over attribute, the contributions of the Soulquarians is important, made a difference from body wisdom. But I think your, your point is, uh, an astute one that Both of those records are out of her brain and her and her consciousness. You know what I mean? And they’re both still so singular, they’re very different from each other. They’re very different from anything else that’s ever been influenced by them or that, they influenced. um, 

Cliff: okay. 

Kyle: And I hope that’s a thing that people recognize very clearly, as I hope we listen to this record of enough to hear the strains of Erika in things all over the place. And one of my favorite things that I learned or observed.

in preparing for this episode was Mark Ronson. having a conversation with her and like The transcript was so interesting. And actually listen to the podcast, audio, which I know is the big, sort of joke that we always say off microphone.

Like we have a podcast, but I hate podcast. Uh, but his enthusiasm for uh, knowledge of

her career arc and specifically mama’s gun, it was like, oh, it’s, it’s cross cutting. it’s, like, it’s, there’s a transcendent.

energy thing in this record.

So that was one of those moments where I like sat up at my chair. I was like, I gotta, I gotta go harder. I gotta, I gotta hear it all. I got to really know this. record, 

Cliff: An experience. I had like that, that made me think a lot about the literally the year, 2000 when this was released, you know, uh, what else? Mission and tried to just imagine being in the situation of being a fan and waiting on this record and having it that year and all that stuff.

Kyle: three years between the records by tourism was 97. I feel like. And then the live record was 98 and then this came out in 2000. 

Cliff: Yup. Yup. You got it. Nice. so one of the things that really struck me about, well, it hit me when I went back and started watching music videos, basically because. 

Kyle: there’s, 

Cliff: So if we apply, this is this sounds so like heady and specific, but at this point we really love listening to music individually and together. So it really does involve as much thought.

Like we’re kind of constantly trying to come up with thesis about like, w what is, what is a key or central thing about this album? Not only so we can talk about it, but like, so that we can understand it. Um, there’s never going 

Kyle: Why is it worth talking about relative to all the other records out there in the world? And now it gets more important. that The longer we go. on, cause It’s like, I don’t want to just say

the same thing about music over and over and over.

Cause why would we keep doing this podcast? What would be the point? 

Cliff: yeah. And like, I think some of the ways that we form our own opinions about it, like, we, we have to decide that a record is we’re talking about. And by doing that, we are kind of building up a, like a defense of it, basically, we’re thinking through why is this the case? And how would I explain that? You know, 

Kyle: but I, I think it’s interesting.

I haven’t really thought much about our process between seasons, but We arrive at this list of 20 or something and get pretty instinctively, without having a lot of deep conversation around These feel like,

things we need to, or we could talk about or explore or whatever.

Like we just, there’s a thing. on its face. That’s like, I understand there, there would be value. in kind of going down the rabbit hole with this thing. And I don’t know.

how we do that, but we do it, 

Cliff: brute force brute force, 

Kyle: but it was evident for a long time. Like body wisdom was, on the list. I think like, kind of at the outset

when we first decided that we were going to have a podcast and then we’ve had it, we let it sit for a long time. Cause I don’t think we knew what to do with it. What we were going to say. We were still figuring.

What we were really doing with this thing. And then, then the whole. like just sent a thing was that was a moment of clarity, for sure. 

Cliff: sure. So, okay. So if we’re kind of constantly coming up with kind of a thesis and we’re sort of applying it, then like, okay, well, if this, if this is the central idea of the record, that would be worth talking about great, like now let me listen to the record again and apply this. And like, does it work out?

You know, it’s just basic experiment stuff. So, uh, in applying that idea that we’ve talked about so much already about there, just being more to this, that there are frequencies to tune into that there is more to this record than just like Eric Habad. Dude did a record with Questlove surprise. Like it’s not that that’s not 

Kyle: James at electric lady studios in New York said, yeah. Yeah. I don’t mean that derisively of any of that. It was just like, that’s not the story, bro. 

Cliff: right. Yeah. It’s just one up like this story is look at this bundle of independent stories that are being told, you know? And so anyway, 

Kyle: naira narrative really is how lucky were they? They got to work on this record part of it. 

Cliff: so applying that, then when I started watching music videos and remembering what the year 2000 was like, just like aesthetically, uh, and, 

Kyle: song, was that a 2000 thing? Is that kinda like where we’re at MTV wise 

Cliff: that 

Kyle: limbus did and bachelor, it was this like peak TRL was that 2000? Who’s going to get the number one.


Cliff: When did thong 

Kyle: this flavor of white person or this flavor of white 

Cliff: Yeah. 

Kyle: Um, Carson Daly.

I’m a massive tool. 

Cliff: So yeah, that period of time, you pretty much nailed it. Um, so just all of that. Right. Okay. So then just kind of going back and watching her videos. So the video for on and off body wisdom was awesome. Okay. Now, fast forward to these, uh, so it kind of hit me while I was watching the bag lady video, because I don’t want to be really kind of transparent and vulnerable here because I think this is what makes it worthwhile.

I like, I was like, I don’t understand anything that’s happening here in looks. I’m bored of it because I don’t under, like, 

Kyle: it’s Shannon 

Cliff: like a huge artist. 

Kyle: shot on like a Handycam or something like a home camcorder. 

Cliff: of, it feels like that, but it’s hard for me to figure out nowadays now that we have like

Kyle: I’m like positive that’s what 

Cliff: Oh, okay. Okay.

Kyle: I remember reading that. That is a thing that they did 

Cliff: When you see it, there is a sensation that I had, even this, like some something is going on this, there’s a reason why this is interesting or cool, like. ’cause I know on principle, Erica Badu would not just be releasing some stuff that doesn’t make any sense. Right. So, but I think it was the phenomenon of realizing like, Hmm, is specially couched in the overall aesthetics of 2000 and MTV and TRL and music videos and synchronized dancing and hip hop.

And especially then, if now, even in 2022, you, as a grown adult, who’s like pretty well-read takes myself pretty seriously. I’m looking at this video that is rich with meaning, and I’ve no idea what’s in it. And I definitely wouldn’t have had an idea in the year 2000, right. When it, when this is coming on after the thong song and you know, like, 

Kyle: number one, stunner. 

Cliff: oh my God, thanks for putting that in my head now.

Kyle: they, Steve Harvey give him a grill in like a trailer in the woods or something. 

Cliff: That sounds 

Kyle: Dig that one out of your memory hole. 

Cliff: Speaking of memory holes. So like, unless you were watching pop-up video though, like you, you may not have ever caught a glimpse of like the depth of reference that she has here. That she’s just kind of like displaying casually because like, first of all, I didn’t know, that was like her mom and her sister in the video.

I was like, I hope that that comes across as sincere. Like I just, I had no idea, like that adds a level of meaning one, but the colors that they’re wearing in the video are like representing shakras like this is a very specifically thought out. Thing was like, Erica about do, doing something very particular relative to the chakra that she’s representing all of this stuff.

And then on top of it, like they, in that video also quote, portrayed characters from a 1976 choreo poem called for colored girls who have considered suicide or when the rainbow is enough. Okay. 

Kyle: Like, 

Cliff: So, I mean, it’s really hard to kind of get this across without people being able to see like my hand 

Kyle: motions, 

Cliff: but, but like, this is why picking up records in looking at them for a bit matters because like, it’s not really that important that I learned all of these details about bag lady.

I’m like, that’s cool. Like there’s a sick video. I’m really glad you did it. You know? Um, the, you know, I can go learn more about everything that you’re showing here. Um, it’s, it was more a moment of understanding. Like she will never, and has never like attempted to tone this thing down, whatever she’s doing to make it accessible or consumable for pretty much anybody I’m 20 plus years on I’m watching this video.

She doesn’t give a shit whether I get it. You know, but like, but I, but I’m able to, and she is sending out information. I’m able to tune into the frequency if I want to, and like, learn what she’s trying to talk to me about. And like, I 

Kyle: just delighted at the thought of our mostly, white male audience. Like who’s going to Google for color girls after this. I hope that they do. And they read, I hope that’s a rabbit hole that some, some listener in Iowa.

goes down right now. 

Cliff: Yeah. But, 

Kyle: Please pause the episode and go look up for colored girls. We will return after a short intermission, 

Cliff: But like, that’s the sort of like when you package all of those things together, like we’ve talked about having an experience of this record, like experiencing how the songs had different when you change them around experiencing how. 

Kyle: like 

Cliff: Th the base is like absent for the first few songs.

And all of a sudden it shows up on Hey, sugar. I’m like stays for the rest of the record. Like, those are the same part of the experience as like, what the fuck is she talking about in, in like, in these songs? Like, wait a minute, this is for her son. Wait a minute, wait a minute, go back. I’ll go all the way back.

Now tell me how all these songs are for her kid. Now I’ve got a new experience. Okay. Well, like on top of that, well, what about green eyes? Green eyes is a three parts song written with these like distinct phrases and sections in them that literally have different production that have different styles.

She sews all her vocals. And wait a minute. This is about Andre 3000 and it’s to her kid, go back to the beginning. It started again, like, you know what I mean? Um, and like, to me, like, that’s it

Kyle: and oh, by the way, You don’t need any of that to appreciate the like 

Cliff: can 

Kyle: green eyes on its face as if you just listened to that song. So the context for me, always, if I need to really pay attention to it as I’m to get in the car and go drive and just be by myself. Um, I was coming home from, my parents’ house pretty recently. and you know,

to reiterate, we listened to just the record. We’re about to talk about like, pretty much exclusively for a week or two 

Cliff: and record adjacent records. 

Kyle: right. That’s right. So It becomes our whole world. which is like a cool thing. It Rewires your brain, when you do that. And we started doing it by accident.

to just like, be respectful enough of have we put in the work enough. So, I mean, I’ve listened to the record a bunch at this point. I’m not unfamiliar with green eyes. and It’s like the long song at the end of the record, but it’s late at night.

driving home, back roads, coming back from my parents and Really understanding like, I can see the moon clearly high in the sky and anything that sounds like Billy holiday.

When you have a clear night, a blue moon night.

like that, it’s like it’s going to hit different. And you’re like, hearing what she’s saying in a setting like that, and the air is cold, you’re breathing. it in your lungs and you feel a little more alive And then it goes into the next movement and then the next movement and you realize that she’s making you feel all the stages of grief, all the things all in one. And it’s like, I haven’t been that affected by a song in a long time. We’ve listened to literally tens and maybe hundreds of thousands of songs in our life. Uh, the bar is extraordinarily high at this point. but I just like, it took the wind out of my lungs musically, if you do nothing else with this record, it’s just like try it. 

Cliff: to 

Kyle: try to live in the Headspace of that.

and Let yourself feel all the feelings that you have undoubtedly fell at some point in your life, your love life that have been related to that thing. songs like that are special. It’s hard to do all the feelings that there’s more than an English word for. you know, Maybe, maybe there’s a German word that captures all the like weird contradictions that I hold in my heart at the same time, um, that an artist can get anywhere near that level of like Nirvana and integration of the self is an astounding kind of miraculous.

feat, uh, green eyes is that. 

Cliff: Yeah. The closest I have gotten to having the kind of like overwhelming feeling I got over eventually about green eyes. And now that activates, when I turn it on, um, was when we spend a lot of time with that Otis Redding. 

Kyle: record 

Cliff: And just, oh, just writing or we’ll rip you apart, you know, but like, I think what what’s wild about it is like part of the reason the Otis Redding songs were so impactful were because of their underlying subject matter.

Um, and the kind of history they were talking about. So it’s, it’s something really special to be able to pack in the emotional density of specifically green eyes. And it still be about something as light as like how I feel about a relationship. Like it’s really hard to kind of express this well, because it really feels like if like there’s such a Razor’s edge between, uh, like sincere sentimentality and just like farcical childish behavior, you know, Okay.

Now, now you’re just annoying talking about a thing that used to be, we’re all sad, like move on, you know, and she spends 10 minutes on it. Um,

and if that wasn’t hard enough, like check out all the tiny desk version of this thing. I like, I sat, I sat in a garage, I sat and I cried. I didn’t even like necessarily identify directly with the message of the song, you know, like, just like, it felt magical. And even after that, which made me laugh because I later read the NPR article or one of them about that tiny desk concert.

And they talked about how everyone in the room who was like recording. It was like really quiet and astonished when it was done, because it just felt other worldly and like that. The ability to step into a song like that written by a young woman about young love, right? I mean, that’s, uh, I almost hate this example, but it’s, it’s almost kind of beach boys level.

Like it can take you to a moment of feeling a sensation that super intense, it almost feels like it’s inappropriate and doesn’t belong because if you snap back out of it, you’re talking about love, you know, 

Kyle: in line at Starbucks, realizing that you lost

six minutes thinking about your whole life and the cosmos and that’s. Okay. Uh, that NPR story I love, I mean, tiny desk, is like one of the great American institutions, man. I’m so thankful. So thankful that things, 

Cliff: in a platform wins, 

Kyle: but also let’s Joe from idols. Get on. the literal desk that someone works at and just scream about class consciousness. and let’s Tyler, the creator. put pink lights all in the office that somebody is going to have to break down immediately after they stop filming. It’s one of the greatest things.

there is. Oh man. The big boy and sleepy brown. One’s really good too. There’s so many good ones. Uh, it reminded me of when we talked about Allman brothers,

uh, and when they recorded dreams,

and Dwayne came in and did that slide solo and everybody in the studio was crying.

It’s like what a miracle it is to be able to tap into, uh, have all of this in me, and something for a minute, just for a minute, let it escape out and fill the room. That’s as good as it gets, man. is. This record reminds me and it’s funny cause I think she’s on the soundtrack of, uh, men in black the galaxy necklace that the cat wears is just like, everything is inside.

that little marble. And I remember distinctly, having the like very Stony thought when I was a kid like, oh, people are like that. People have the whole, universe inside them. that’s what feelings,

and stuff are. And then I was like, that’s the craziest thing that has ever come into my brain.

ever, but I wasn’t wrong. Um, That’s what this record is. It’s a little galaxy marble and the, a thing like green eyes or I think my favorite song on the record is times a sign. And we can, we can talk more about that in a sec, but I think the other place where you like really zoom in and get that same level of intensity is like an 82,000, which is one that you could gloss over a million times. And if you don’t have the context around that, not really know what halfed it has. And As soon as you do it hits totally different. 

Cliff: I did think an interesting kind of foil to green eyes, again, as a, as a way of displaying the kind of range that’s all packed into this record is 82,000 because w w I mean, here, we’ve talked about the, the way we’re feeling things because of the density of. Vibrations in this music, the way the music is written, what the songs are about, mostly how they’re performed, but their moment in time, all of that stuff.

Right. But almost like on the flip side of that is 82,000 being extraordinarily direct, uh, clear, uh, in terms of like, here’s the subject matter. Here’s what we’re talking about. Here’s the point, like in, on top of that again, when we talk about those kinds of like layers where it’s like, once you learn to think, all right, now I got to go back and hear it again. I’m like for me, uh, a song written from the perspective of a man murdered by, in YPD is not necessarily what you’d expect on an album for your kid. And yet again, there was that moment, right where I went like, no guilt, no shame. Just like, uh, 

Kyle: oh 

Cliff: Yeah, not my kid, you know, it was, oh, oh, okay. Oh, like it, like, I accept your laughter.

Cause I also laughed at that moment. Just like, oh no, like that’s, that’s why I kind of missed it and didn’t understand it. And yet, yet again, it’s such an example of like, you, she’s not hiding anything from me that should have been pretty obvious. Uh, and on top of it is, uh, comes with its own emotional weight and intensity from the fact that this was about a very recent event, like a very, uh, like a historical event at that time that you could go learn plenty about and just like that’s where the layers kept coming in and folding themselves in again.

Right? Like that’s where we get that sensation where, you know, when we did the tune dig radio episodes and we thought a lot about direct action and introspection. 

Kyle: Like 

Cliff: This was, again, the moment that Hemi was like, fuck, this was 20 years ago in this. We’re still talking about this dude. It’s arguably worse. Uh, like in just, I mean, just the, but just waves of emotion, right?

Like that was like despair that I felt listening to that song. And then on other cycles through, and in other perspectives or contexts, this song was triumphant. It was a giant middle finger in the face of anyone who would dare to accuse her of not being tuned into reality of being, you know, out there or fanciful or, you know what I mean?

Like, it’s pretty easy to describe someone like Erica Baidu as like kind of disconnected. Uh, almost like if we, if we say she’s on a different vibration as if that were somehow a negative thing. Um, 

Kyle: Not in tune with reality. Yeah, Yeah, no. she very much is. And and continues to display that pretty viscerally. in a lot of different 

Cliff: She kind of, she talks about it. Like she is aware of that in herself, um, to the point to where her yeah.

Uh, her I’m sure we’ll link this one out the vulture interview, I think, was that right? Yeah. Like that, that, that gave me a pretty good idea. I felt aware 2018, Eric, about do’s head was at just kind of based on like, you can actually feel her interacting with the interviewer and like returning to things that she said and like being nuanced about them.

And then also saying kind of offensive things to test the water. And like, it was, it was fascinating to see such steadiness from a human being over a 20 year span, like this 20 year span.

Kyle: Yeah. She’s, she’s her gift, I guess, is that she is like that phrase a part of the world. But apart from it, um, that’s something that she’s very good at. I continue to find her Dallas roots. So fascinating because I love Texas, but I can’t place her there in some ways. And it’s like, well, she, Dallas is what it is because, of Erica Badu, not the end verse, you know, uh, and knowing that she was Erik or free and she was like on the local hip hop radio station,

and had this background in this love of classic hip hop, but also came from a blues town,

and was very into blues and funk.

And just like, has so many touch points that hasn’t really, she hasn’t like consciously made any of them her thing. She’s 1,001 inputs. And they just kind of turn her into that. But all of that’s very like grounded earth sign type stuff To me. And then she has this whole other kind of water sign, mystical energy, but she’s very real and like feet to the ground.

and connected to All of those things. And I, I think some of those quotes that you shared from other, artists. um, I would love for you to jog my memory, on them, speak to. like, She is so iconic to very important expressionists type artists. because she’s a container for like all the feelings, right? And, And that the point that I’m trying to get to is when you listen to the record or even a single song, and the light in the room is a little different on it.

It’s because you’re pouring whatever of your, what your bringing to that mirror every time. And that it is at once exactly what she wants it to be in the exact same thing all the time of objectively in terms of vibrations and a totally different experience. from time to time within a single person’s listening is like, that’s, that’s a, that’s a gift, man. That’s a gift. 

Cliff: Yeah. So those quotes, so these were great. We kind of pulled them back from 2001, whenever, like this had gotten just enough time to make whatever immediate impact it had. Um, Jill Scott said, which for the record, um, if you are, if you feel like Erica Badu is. A Neo soul artist in the genre sense of the word she calls herself a Neo soul artists.

Off-hand so like, I won’t take that, but like, if you think of her only in that musical context who you’re really thinking of is Joe Scott. So, so, uh, who made some great music to write, but, but she was very steadily in that groove of that kind of Neo soul genre. Um, and so she said, when Erica came along, that meant you could no longer deny the undeniable.

After Erica, the flood gates opened, she poked a big hole in the dam and now I don’t think they can stop it. She gave us a space for genuine artistry, uh, and then India, Ari, right? Uh, another, another person from that era we’d easily associate, um, with some of this stuff. she said, somebody had to come out and let people know how black women really think Erica made it to the mainstream first. And God made her first because it took someone with Eric has dramatic flare in her strengths. She was the spirit chaser. And so like, even these artists, like right then at that time were seeing her as like the actual, like spearhead of a thing, the, you know, the unafraid artists able to go around poking just to find the soft spot and the walk right through it when she found it, uh, in like that’s, I’m so glad we’ve talked about so many different like angles of this record. Cause like that’s the sensation I kind of take from it all. It’s like, um, yeah, it was for her kid. Yeah. Some of it’s about Three Stacks. Uh, yeah. Some of it’s neo soul. Uh, yeah, some of it is about, uh, diasporic stuff. Like, uh, all of that is a part of one giant forward motion through whatever wall happens to at the time. And I just, I gained a new appreciation for what that wall looked like. Thinking about the year 2000, thinking about how music came out, then thinking about what I was like, then, you know? 

Kyle: The year 2000 was the wall. Yeah, 

Cliff: yeah. Pretty much 

Kyle: time. Time and space as the wall. 

Cliff: I mean, seriously. I mean, dude, like think about how like how long ago that was like psychically.

Like we were very panicked that our computers were all gonna explode.

Kyle: nine 11 hadn’t even happened yet. You could, you could walk right up to the terminal in the airport. 

Cliff: Oh 

Kyle: Might as well had been in a different place. Yeah. 

Cliff: But yet like, and so for that to feel like so long ago, and yet to still re like, literally be able to feel the forward motion of all of these like, stories that she’s like, it’s like, it’s like she pulling that whole big band of chords all forward. Um, I just realized both of both band and chords as words mean different things, and that sucks in podcasts.

So, uh, but, 

Kyle: musical project, 

Cliff: uh, rope, there was

Kyle: black Sabbath, Atlanta. 

Cliff: Oh man. Okay. Instead, let’s picture a rope that are mini threads that are threaded together, but like, it’s just like, she’s kind of pulling everything forward and finding the way to make everything else come behind her. Um, and I, I kind of love in a sense that her story musically, after this wasn’t necessarily like immediate commercial success or an attempt at commercial success, this was just what she did. And she talks about making music. Whenever honestly, she feels like making music. And I mean, that last mix tape that she put out in 2015 is some wild stuff. I mean like that, that opening track could go on tour with full of hell. Okay. 

Kyle: that the one That’s also the one with the hotline bling cell phone. Yeah. 

Cliff: Stele, EULAR. Yeah. 

Kyle: she’s so good 

Cliff: even that stuff is. 

Kyle: like, 

Cliff: I’m not really sure if it means anything yet, it almost feels like it needs a lot of 20 years for us 

Kyle: And then there’s the Trilogy the F the Quadro Elegy, of new America, It’s like that’s a whole, that’s, that’s an entire P-Funk career and a handful of records It’s that still impenetrable to me. But I know now more than ever having spent time with this record, the way, the same way that I set aside for 15 years that I needed to watch the wire, really, intentionally. I know I need to listen to those records and when I do, I’ll be like, hell yeah, I love these so much. I just know preemptively. excited about it. 

Cliff: It’s true. I love that. That that can be your take away just like the wire. Just listen to the damn thing so everybody can quit asking you about it and you can be like, yes, I did listen to mama’s gun. I’m sorry. I didn’t like Erica, but I do enough pleased. Forgive me. The wire has too many seasons, know, 

Kyle: it’s the dock season.

I couldn’t get near the taxes mom’s gone is not the doc season. It’s the, it’s the Hamsterdam season. Maybe if anything, watch the wire. Um, one thing I want to run through really quick, I don’t know that it always warrants, it in an episode, but I just want to do like greatest hits of, of active listening, musical moments. I hope We do a lot of that this season, honestly, because I think the lineup that we have warrants some really deep listening stuff. Certainly this does certainly the like next to you that I can think of a really well. Moments and reward them.

So, you know, we talked about the sequencing feeling like a live set, like cat tried try, in the first block of song from like track three to seven or whatever to catch the medley transition moments, Cause that’s just a fun thing to, that’s a signal to. yourself that you’re starting To really get to know the record. And that just feels good. Um, clever was the first song.

I mean, I knew the bag lady specifically the remix a long time ago when I first started appreciating this as a record clever was the first thing Cause I love Roy Ayers. I love everybody loves the sunshine and it’s like so dope.

that she got one of our musical heroes on not one but multiple songs on this thing. And I’m a, I’m a little frustrated that there’s like no literature about that. And there’s no, like tell me how he just casually came to be at the studio, hanging out with you and pulled the vibraphone out. And here we are doing this thing. I want to know everything about that. and I couldn’t find it. So if somebody else can, please, add me on social media, he does a thing on clever when he’s playing the vibes where he’s singing as he’s Playing the melody line or

or the improv thing he’s doing that thing that very few guitars or instrumentalists can do. they hear the melody that they know they’re about to play on the instrument and they do it. They sing it out loud. which is like, That’s a level of prodigy that I I’ll never approach. with anything. Right. But it’s very, it’s like buried. You gotta really, be listening 

Cliff: there’s a ton of buried production stuff on clever. I even pointed out, especially relative to active listening stuff, starting at about two and a half minutes in all the way to the end.

Like there’s like almost experimental noise in the background in various like layers. There’s just, there was, I ended up turning it up and up and up to just keep listening to all the stuff that was hidden in there. 

Kyle: So one quote that I found fairly early that blew my mind that I think relates to that is one of the articles said, when Erica Badu creates a new song.

She begins with instruments that are usually treated like. accessories, Like singing bell shakers. mallets, and tuning forks. It’s been that way since Baduizm her debut, her quote is what draws me in, and you and anyone else, is that those frequencies and tones connect with our organs and cells, she said, from her home in Dallas, you’re able to cancel out certain ailments.

You’re vibrating the molecules. apart. So when you catch a little thing, I don’t think it’s overstating it to say like you are changing your frequency by really dialing into a record with an artist. whose intention is to straight up vibrate your molecules apart. 

Cliff: Yeah. 

Kyle: Who the hell else are you going to hear saying some shit like that?

About the song, go a song. about an octopus, 

Cliff: This is to that end. This is a lot like channel orange In the sense of like active listening and diving in and in an, in, in, in, in, in keeps unveiling little things back to you. And yet the whole overarching idea of the thing is like trying to describe sensation, you know? So like, you know, Channel Orange is synesthesia. Um, and then, and then this is, you can just take on these different emotional states.

I feel like maybe that’s a better way of saying what we’ve discussed so far. Um, and like that’s when those kinds of active listening moments hit different. 

Kyle: barracks emotional landscapes, but you have a map. So all right. a few other things, um, kiss me on my neck. Another son that I really love on this record, uh, there, there are a number of places where she contrasts, uh, lyrical subject matter And groove or musical intensity of the song.

So like kiss me on my neck is really tender subject matter, but the groove is pretty hard. It’s like a pretty active thing in a way that that kind of love is really energizing. You’re in your kitchen in the morning and you’re like, oh, hell. And your biscuits tastes better when you make them. Um, and then on the flip side, 82,000 is really strong subject matter in a really, really tender.

arrangement. Um, so I, I I love that it’s like the the protein and the container Like complimenting each other in that way. always. Right. And that’s counterintuitive

when you’re songwriting to do it like that. Um, kiss me has a musical moment on the record. So like the template ostensibly as the Neo soul thing that you’ve heard a million artists do since, you know, especially at every open mic night in any city across America.

Um, But when she diverts from that kind of main sound are the most interesting parts of the record. to me. So the end of kiss me, drops out into a tabla and bongos and a flute jam. Like I’m a sucker for flute, especially jazz flute, like a Bobby Humphrey type joint. And it’s so unexpected to me. Uh, but it’s, it’s one of those that if you got it just going on a loop, it’s easy to gloss over that minute and a half, two minutes, but it’s like one of those really cool things. And every, everybody is kinda hitting adjust the right frequent, just the right level of energy and presence.

Um, so that’s a really good thing to me. 82,000 is like a recording masterclass, especially with close miking and. acoustic. Uh, Betty ride is on background vocals on that. which is That’s a whole rabbit hole. Wright. You may not know her singles, but cleanup woman in particular, as soon as you hear it. you will know it as a sampled song. Um, But 82,000 I think is really effective. at achieving its thing because there’s a bridge jam or something kind of on the back third or quarter where it swells and there’s no, no lyrics, but it’s almost sort of a, a cleansing of the heaviness of everything that’s happened. Um, that’s the. like Music is greater sign words. Moment is

as you’re going to get on this record or anywhere, um, then you go in. orange moon and there’s great chimes and piano on that, but just the fact that there’s crickets throughout that whole thing, and then carry over in the transition into, in love with you. orange moon is really interesting cause it’s got those 5% nation allegorical illusions, and like, I didn’t know, a 5% nation was, uh, did not realize how much of the classic hip hop, that I loved had 5% nation vocabulary. So another thing worth putting in the thread for this episode.

Um, But there’s a, there’s a set of flute, arpeggios and piano stabs, and that song after being pretty soft for most of the time hits an emotional crescendo, like filling out that,

feeling. And it felt like pouring a champagne glass to the very tip top. um, and then I think the, the last one or two that I really liked were listening to the reverb on not only the vocals but the snaps on, in love with you, uh, taking it back to mark Ronson

He’s got a show on apple TV called watch the sound and an episode specifically about reverb. And I watched that like two days ago and then started hearing all the songs through that context. It was like, oh my God, This is an amazing and purposeful use of reverb. I’m great at listening to music now. 

Cliff: Okay. Well, if you had to focus on something, uh, in, in love with you, probably the reverb of the snaps would be the right one, because song itself is a little, um, like, Hey, can we do a duet with Bob Marley? “No, no, he’s dead.” Um, okay. What about Ziggy Marley? “Unavailable.” are there any Marley’s here? Stephen Marley walks up to them. That’s all I’ve ever been, you know, but, uh, okay. Uh, okay.

Kyle: Well, like what if their friends, what if they’re good friends? if he was the preferred, marley? 

Cliff: well, that wouldn’t help my joke. So, so no.

Kyle: Fuck me. Right. but the last thing that. I w I want to point out as a musical moment. that I really appreciate is Time’s a wasting. which it’s familiar to me mostly through the lens, of a big crit song that samples times away sent. I think it’s, King’s blues. off of like The second credit record, I believe. Um, but also having had a lot more spins of all the music I love since this. record came out, time’s a waste in, in lyrical content, but also in the style of the groove And knowing that Erica loves, outcast, reminded me of get up, get out, like kind of maybe her version of, get up, get out. I really appreciate that about it gives me a lens through which to appreciate it.

It’s also, um, one of the only songs that doesn’t bring in drums first, like quest counts them off in a number of songs or it’s, transitioning groups between the last one, but it starts with Rhodes keyboard. Um, and it’s like, uh, it’s like when you drink really cold water and it, Ah, like, lets you take a deep breath. It, it really opens up. And then Johnny Hammond, is, uh, like, you know, if you love sampling, Johnny Hammond is a great go-to sample guy. um, but flipping, the vocal melody of a Johnny Hammond song, can’t we smile in the, in the, bridge, uh, where it gets kind of up and floaty and dreamy. Like that’s, that’s one of the moments that I really love on it. So you have about an hour of material, Say you listen to it 20 times each one of those is like a, it’s like a galaxy marble to kind of go in and out of and feel a specific feeling really, really deeply, but I just wanted to connect some of the technical musical moments to like the kind of vibe the world That they build.

Cliff: That you can’t learn or think too much about this record at all. Uh, which may not be the case for some other records we’ll talk about, like Meshuggah. Um, you may, you may want to temper yourself for that one, but like here, it just, it is, uh, the praises go up and the blessings come down, bro. Like, you know, uh, you go looking for something here and you’re going to get more in return for sure.

And like covering the, you know, some of the more production or technical aspects of it is just another layer that’s rewarding as well. Um, and I think that’s, that’s really the big takeaway for me is like, think about the, the vibration aspect as a series of experiences that you can have with this record.

Every one of those attempts is going to be unique. You’ll notice something different every time. not noticing more each time noticing different specific things every time based seriously on your headspace. 

Kyle: Go to tunedig.com for your chance to win a free vinyl copy of the album we just covered. And follow us on Instagram and Twitter for even more info about the album, including playlist links to interesting articles and videos and even some stories that didn’t make the episode. Most importantly, though, please support your favorite local record store, concert venue, or buy merch from a band you love. Thanks for listening.

Original "Bitches Brew" Art

To celebrate the endless creativity of Bitches Brew—and especially its famous album artwork—TuneDig partnered with two incredible Atlanta-based artists to create one-of-a-kind, handpainted gatefolds.

With the spirit of the original art in mind, each artist brought their own vision to life. These pieces will spark conversation for any jazz fan.

Each piece includes a new vinyl copy of Bitches Brew. 100% of the purchase price goes directly to the artist, so take this opportunity to support the arts in the raddest possible way.

Seriously. There’s literally only one of each. Make it yours. 😎


Season 6—featuring our most eclectic selection of albums yet—concludes July 1, 2022.

TuneDig Episode 50: Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain”

Before uniting one nation under a groove, the lysergic lords of chaos in Funkadelic harnessed wild lightning into an amulet called Maggot Brain, bestowing the bearer with raw, dark power stronger than any force known to man. Between reaching our 50th episode and coping with the “maggots in the mind” of today’s universe, it felt like the right time to free our minds. We hope y’all’s asses will follow.

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TuneDig Episode 49: Alice Coltrane’s “Journey in Satchidananda”

The story of Alice Coltrane — an accomplished bebop pianist from Detroit who transcended into something far greater before walking away from public life altogether — is a glimpse into what it means to be truly free. Alice’s masterpiece "Journey in Satchidananda" is a cosmic dance that sparked creation from destruction. And in a time when we’re all desperately searching for a spark of meaning and hope, Journey abides abundantly.

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TuneDig Episode 48: Heart’s “Little Queen”

Take a moment to appreciate Ann and Nancy Wilson, who kicked down the doors of rock ‘n’ roll’s boys’ club with their peerless guitar work, soaring soul vocals, and tight songcraft. 1977’s Little Queen — an oft-overlooked gem in the classic rock canon — offers a snapshot of those elements at their most urgent and pure, powered by the Wilsons’ simple motivation (as described by their producer): “It was a war.”

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TuneDig Episode 47: Tangerine Dream’s “Phaedra”

When you think of “electronic music,” what comes to mind may not be a genre you deeply love — hip-hop, house, new wave, or even dub reggae — but all of it owes some debt, scientifically or otherwise, to Tangerine Dream. Dig in with us as we study a prime example of the band’s brand of effortful innovation, where they patiently and persistently labored at the cutting edge of electronic technology to open a portal to new worlds in our minds.

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TuneDig Episode 46: Olivia Rodrigo’s “SOUR”

Did you catch one of 2021’s biggest albums, or like us, did you almost overlook it? If you have any expectations of pop music, "SOUR" will likely subvert them. Teenage dream this is not; it’s an exquisitely universal portrait of a weird time to be alive.

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TuneDig Episode 45: Fela Kuti’s “Expensive Shit”

The story of Fela Kuti — one of the most famous people on an *entire continent* passionately struggling to liberate power to more people — is absolutely one worth deeply knowing, regardless of whether you find yourself drawn to Afrobeat or (cringe) “world music.” But once you know it, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with Fela and Afrika 70 as their revolutionary grooves rewire your brain in magical and meaningful ways.

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TuneDig Episode 44: Meshuggah’s “ObZen”

Meshuggah’s ObZen—an artifact of human creativity pushing the limits of what’s possible—will quite literally make you hear music differently. If you’re looking for a new musical adventure, and especially if you don’t think you like “heavy” or “weird” music, consider this your sign to push past your comfort zone.

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TuneDig Episode 43: mewithoutYou’s “Catch For Us the Foxes”

A misunderstood wise man once said “Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds.” In our most personal and vulnerable episode yet, we do some seeking through the lens of songs that fill us with the bravery and sincerity to love ourselves and others fully. Dig deep with us as we fish for words about our tiny place in the universe and dance with gratitude for our ability to do so.

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For lifelong headbangers and the musically curious alike, a new podcast from TuneDig is here to push your palette with aggressive, abrasive art. Each short, fast-paced episode offers (1) a new metal, punk, noise, or experimental release we recommend, (2) a related playlist we’ve curated, and (3) a heavy issue to consider and an organization doing something about it. Join us in the void.


TuneDig Episode 41: Miles Davis’s “Bitches Brew”

Let’s be clear: "Bitches Brew" is a challenging record, even to some of the best musicians in the world — but all of them say it’s worth the investment. It’s the kind of trip that, even if we *could* draw a map, it wouldn’t take you there. Let go of the need for meaning and enjoy the ride with us. We can promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised where you end up.

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TuneDig Episode 40: Fiona Apple’s “Tidal”

On the heels of one of 2020's most acclaimed albums — Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters — we revisited Apple’s debut Tidal and wound up working to extract ourselves from the mostly male gazes that made its reception … much different. We arrive at a question much like writer Jenn Pelly had: “People would constantly prod Fiona on how an 18-year-old could write songs as mature as these ... Why did they not ask instead how she became a genius?”

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TuneDig Episode 39: Death Grips’s “The Money Store”

The modern world is accelerating beyond our control, shaping our reality in ways we can’t yet perceive or understand. Enter Death Grips, an art project capturing the chaotic energy and illustrating the absurdity of our hubris in trying to harmonize the surreal and extremely real — never more perfectly than on 2012’s prescient "The Money Store".

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TuneDig Episode 38: Augustus Pablo’s “King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown”

Reggae music is easy to take for granted, but its impact is underappreciated and massive — in the case of dub in particular, everyone from Radiohead to Johnny Rotten to Run-DMC owes it a debt. Augustus Pablo and King Tubby together created what’s regarded as “one of the finest examples of dub ever recorded.” Join us as we dive into the culture, history, and unique engineering experiments that made it possible.

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TuneDig Episode 37: Rihanna’s “ANTI”

By every measure — sales, awards, chart-toppers, global name recognition — Rihanna is objectively as big as the Beatles ever were. In fact, ANTI is so big it’s still on the charts, a record five full years later. Take a closer look with us at “the record you make when you don’t need to sell records”, and get a taste of the true freedom that comes from focusing on your inner voice when faced with insurmountable expectations.

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TuneDig Episode 36: Son House’s “Father of Folk Blues”

All American music traces back to the blues, and deep at the root sits Son House. That the recordings on "Father of Folk Blues" even exist is something of a gray area that cuts to the heart of the great American myth, but wherever you land after hearing these stories, you’ll find that what matters most is what the great Muddy Waters once said of House: “That man was the king.”

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TuneDig Episode 35: Melvins’s “Stoner Witch”

The futility of describing the Melvins has stretched critics in the direction of absurd words like “Dadaist” for nearly 40 years now. They’ve belligerently flogged any attempt to pinpoint their essence simply by being themselves, but "Stoner Witch" remains a reliable mall directory for the Melvins’ vast and wild discography. Grab yourself some pretzel bites.

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TuneDig Episode 34: Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”

We should talk about Dolly the way we talk about Prince. Her extraordinary kindness and unique kitsch both make her universally loved, but what gets left out of the conversation is the very thing that made her famous: the music. Join in as we focus attention on the sonics and songwriting of the low-key masterpiece "Jolene".

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Kyle and Cliff

BONUS TRACK: How We Got Here

We got a bunch of interesting listener feedback in our off-season, and it encouraged us to shed some light on why we do things the way we do ‘em. Also, we reflect on our first writeup, which was ... interesting.

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We're Cliff (right) and Kyle (left). We’re two dudes born and raised in ATL with day jobs in tech and sustainability, respectively.

We met in middle school, and in one way or another, music’s been the thing that’s kept us close for the two decades since — whether it’s sharing and talking about new music (like this podcast, except in our texts or over beers), going to shows, or working with our favorite record stores to help them survive and thrive.

We started TuneDig as a little art project that connects us more deeply ourselves and to the world through the infinite gift of music. We hope you’ll join us for the conversations, let us know what you think, and share discoveries of your own.

More About TuneDig

TuneDig began as a little something called MusicGrid.me, which we created after realizing there was no place online to directly exchange music recommendations with your friends. Our aim was simple: to make rating albums simple, useful, and social. We got some love from places like MashableWiredEvolver.fm, and Hypebot. We managed to foster conversation between music lovers, get thousands of reviews, and meet great people.

Along the way, we realized that record stores were an essential part of the music lovers’ community. After many a conversation about how we could helpfully connect them to the people who loved them, we began helping them leverage technology to create new revenue streams and embrace streaming services without giving up what’s unique to them: expertise and curation. (Long live the counter clerk who knows exactly which record will be the right introduction to jazz fusion!)

TuneDig is our vision to connect music lovers with the music they love, because no matter how much has changed in the way we discover and enjoy music, recommendations from people you trust and respect will always be the best way to find new music you’ll dig. With this podcast, we’re channeling the spirit of trusted curation pioneered by record stores, and bringing you something to take you deeper into music you can love.