Universal music's multi-platinum-selling, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter-actress Erykah Badu
releases her fifth studio album, New Amerykah, Part II: Return of the Ank. The new album is the
singer's hotly anticipated follow-up to her critically acclaimed 2008 disc, New Amerykah, Part I: 4th
New Amerykah Part II: Return of the Ankh features contributions from some of the most talented,
groundbreaking, underground producers and engineers in the hip-hop game, including Grammy
winners 9th Wonder and James Poyser, eclectic soul singer Bilal, and the late J Dilla. “We used a lot
of analog instruments—harps, strings, drums, piano, and even a Theremin—to give the album that
sonic feel,” said Badu. “There's a strong undercurrent of bottom, a rumbling to these songs that feels
good to me. It feels like a hug.”
The press are already raving about New Amerykah Part II: Return of the Ankh, one of the most
anticipated albums of 2010. The Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog calls it “a throwback to her
1997 debut, 'Baduizm,' with a more acoustic feel” while Vibe.com says, “Badu delivers an album that
offers the emotional highs, lows and maddening complexities of being involved in a romantic
1. 20 Feet Tall
2. Window Seat
4. Get Money
5. Don't Be Long
7. Umm Hmm
8. Fall in Love
9. Incense (Instrumental)
10. Out My Mind Just in Time (Part 1) (Undercover Over-Lover)
11. Out My Mind Just in Time (Part 2)
* Bonus Web-Only Track: “Jump In The Air,” featuring Lil
Wayne and Bilal
Return of the Ankh was supposed to be issued earlier than March 2010. It's just as well: 2008's stupefying 4th World War provided such a dense concentration of charged lyrics over ceaselessly vein-melting production work that Erykah Badu could have been forgiven for letting five years pass prior to unveiling something else to soak up. Return of the Ankh is a relief in that Badu does not attempt to trump herself with a set that is even more intense and powerful than its predecessor. Thematically, it's aligned with 4th World War's relatively lighter songs, "Me" and "Honey," more personal than planetary, less challenging sonically and lyrically. Most of it was actually recorded at the same time as 4th World War. The list of collaborators, featuring Georgia Anne Muldrow, Madlib, Shafiq Husayn, Dilla, James Poyser, Ahmir Thompson, and Karriem Riggins, is similar, yet the makeup is drastically different, designed for instant kicked-back enjoyment. A pause, deep breath, and a "Here we go" is not required prior to putting it on. Instead, we get Badu playing around, in the best possible way, with sample-rooted songs like "Turn Me Away (Get Munny)" (a twist on Sylvia Striplin's "You Can't Turn Me Away" and the 1995 hip-hop anthem that sampled it, Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s "Get Money"), "Gone Baby, Don't Be Long" (a slightly silly new-love song that reworks Paul McCartney's "Arrow Through Me"), and "Umm Hmm" (its optimism reflected in that of its backbone, Ndugu & the Chocolate Jam Company's Earth, Wind & Fire-like "Take Some Time"). Though the album is so rich with sample-reliant songs that it sometimes resembles a glorified mixtape, a couple standouts were made from scratch. "Window Seat" should appeal to those who have wanted Badu to revisit that lissome sound of Baduizm songs like "On & On" and "Otherside of the Game," and it packs stunning stomp-and-clap breakdowns that sync up with Badu's most halting lines: "I need you to want me/I need you to miss me/I need your attention/I need you next to me." "Out My Mind, Just in Time" is a ten-minute finale that traces a trajectory of heartache across three movements, beginning innocently enough with a devotional (if pained and humorous) piano ballad that shifts into Muldrow's psychedelic, slow-motion soul-jazz as Badu gets increasingly fragmentary and tripped-out. By the end, she is renewed: "Finally I got a leading role/Introducing Super Dope/Starring in her episode/Hello new world/Out my mind." Actual next level, as always. ~ Andy Kellman
Rolling Stone (p.72) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "On the gorgeous 'Window Seat,' her supremely mellow voice is awash in jazzy Fender Rhodes keyboards and loping funk-soul grooves."
Entertainment Weekly (p.75) - "[S]he stays comparatively earthbound on this follow-up, singing mostly about relationships over warm grooves." -- Grade: A-
Mojo (Publisher) (p.93) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Badu's woozy spell is never broken....It's the sound of an artist in full, uncensored flow."
Loved it, great album this one is. I think that everyone should own this. This isnt exactly the kind of music i would usually go for but it really suprised me and i really enjoyed it. Great gift for someone close to you. And if they love it as much as i do they will love you forever and fopr always, great spend wouldnt swap it for anything.
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