Erykah Badu – New Amerykah

March 2, 2008

New Amerykah, Erykah Badu’s latest album, is actually the first part of a planned multi-part work. This part is called 4th World War, and it’s as politically and socially minded as one might think based on the title. The war she writes about is as internal as it is external, and while the album begins on a cynical note with “Amerykhan Promises,” it ends with the first single, “Honey,” a love song about as sweet as it sounds. In between, there’s a lot of less accessible music, some of it very experimental, some of it spoken word poetry and sound collage, all mixed in with the 70’s funk and soul inspired hip-hop she’s been making for some time now. It’s an ambitious, often brilliantly realized work, with hits and misses along the way, but it’s also the sort of album that bears repeat listens to absorb everything Badu and her collaborators have put into it. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of her last album, Mama’s Gun, as the album tends to feel muddled in some places and meanders in others, but as the first part of a larger work, it’s intriguing and very promising. Standout cuts: “The Healer/Hip Hop,” “Me,” “Telephone” and “Honey.”


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