Erykah Badu's allure, or her "Baduizm," grows from the fusion of her poetry with her rooted spiritual beliefs. Overall her sophomore effort, Mama's Gun, is a welcome peek into the future of R&B, especially if you consider today's cookie-cutter alternatives. A few of Badu's attempts to blend in the new school of R&B -- a cornucopia of flavors -- unfortunately end up slipping the groove. Witness the overproduced shrieking on "Kiss Me on My Neck," the spacey trumpeting on "Booty" and the irritably raw "Penitentiary Philosophy," which could be an En Vogue B-side -- at best.
But thankfully, the symmetry of fresh urban rhythms and operatic vocals that was so affecting on her debut, "Baduizm," continues. If ever there was to be a hint of a second coming of Ella Fitzgerald, the luminously tranquil "Orange Moon" is it: the silver bullet in "Mama's Gun."