Much of the rest of ''Mama,'' though, is aimless and one dimensional, full of self help platitudes like ''If you’re looking for a free ride, you better run, chile, or you sure won’t get too far'' (''My Life''). And Badu’s logy analog grooves sound particularly thin when you hear her in a more modern context, as on the propulsive ''Humble Mumble,'' from the new Outkast album, ''Stankonia.'' It features a 60 second Badu vocal that’s more gripping than any of ''Mama'''s 70 plus minutes.
For anyone seeking classy background music, ''Mama'' delivers; skip the leaden funk rock opener, ''Penitentiary Philosophy,'' and the album moves right into a meandering mid tempo groove with few intrusions -- those pesky memorable melodies, those annoying shifts in dynamics -- to distract you from your Sunday morning paper. But why shell out 17 bucks when this disc will be spinning all winter at the Starbucks down the block?