MUSIC: THE BEST MUSIC OF 1997

1 ERYKAH BADU BADUIZM (Kedar Entertainment/Universal) Some singers can break your heart; Badu can put it back together again. Her neo-soul songcraft draws from soul, jazz, blues and hip-hop--but instead of a chaotic swirl of sound, the result is a slow-burning, meditative album that brings all these genres together. This is healing music about magic and love, racism and reincarnation, late-night parties and Afro picks. Badu's voice is a natural wonder, sharp and metallic, wounded and sad, yearning for empathy in one song, decrying injustice in the next. Her brilliant companion CD, Live, which captures concert performances of the songs on...

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