Thursday, March 11, 2010

A little bit of Badu...

With Erykah Badu's New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh), dropping in just a couple of weeks (March 30), I've found myself returning to its predecessor, New Amerykah Part One (Fourth World War over, and over, and over, and over again, and again. I can't help but think that Badu's most recent effort might be a little bit underrated. That might be a strange claim to make for an album that received glowing reviews upon its release, and even landed at #133 on Pitchfork's "The Top 200 Albums of the 2000's" list. While those achievements are fine and good, the album deserves more. I didn't quite realize it at the time, but New Amerykah Part One (Fourth World War) isn't just one of the best soul albums of the last decade, but one of the freshest, warmest, most engaging album.

Through the course of it's ten songs and a bonus track, Badu's voice slithers and slinks through smooth vocal melodies and production that manages to come off as both heavy-as-fuck and soft. It's as if each song is a spirited cry from a place of repression--there are hooks and grooves on the surface, but there's something vital buried beneath, burning, pushing every song beyond the sum of its parts. The end result is the kind of celebratory, life-hungry soul album that can stand right along side some of Stevie Wonders' 70's highlights. In fact, while Badu's sound and style is modern, dripping with an undeniable sense of newness, the songs on part one of her New Amerykah set constantly remind me of Innervisions. Perhaps the roots of this comparison can be found in the album's sophisticated production, arrangements, and vocal delivery, or maybe it's the urgency that runs through every track.

Anyway, if you haven't checked it out, or haven't revisited it in a while, you owe yourself another trip through Badu's New Amerykah Part One (Fourth World War). The album deserves every ounce of its solid reputation and then some.

And here's looking forward to the sequel. We'll be lucky if it's half as good as its predecessor.

I'll leave you with the video for the album's "hidden bonus track" "Honey." It's an excellent song and a pretty killer video:

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