In an interview with the Dallas Observer, a creatively-stagnant Erykah Badu revealed that at one point, she felt like lost the magic, and the idea that she should give up recording began to seep into her mind. Fortunately, that hasn’t come to fruition, and the eclectic and eccentric singer is back with several recordings prepped for release over the next two years, beginning with New Amerykah Part One (4th World War).
In an election year themed around change, Badu has chosen the perfect time to release her long-awaited fourth studio effort. Taking the sounds of Parliament and meshing it with the political consciousness found in the early days of hip hop, Badu offers fans yet another substantive album that’s completely left-field from the releases of her R&B peers.
Working with an varied mix of collaborators like the 67-year-old jazz vibraphonist Roy Ayers, DJ/rapper/producer Madlib (Talib Kweli), and 9th Wonder, Badu combines introspective lyrics with blazing beats – giving listeners both an earful and a mouthful.
Not bound by the very standards for contemporary soul divas she set a decade ago with her debut, Baduizm, Badu forgoes simple melodies and concise song structures in favor of unleashing a myriad of random sounds and vocal arrangements on New Amerykah. Though many of the songs sound like they were lifted right out of the 70s (most notably the intro, “Amerykhan Promise”), New Amerykah sounds fresh – pointing to Badu’s longstanding gift of being able to successfully fuse old and modern sounds .
Throughout the album, you find Badu sharing musings on the state of hip hop (“The Healer”), what it means to raise a young son in a violent world (“Solider”), and the apathy plaguing many members of the Black community (“That Hump”). The soul diva gives her state of the union and shares her vision of a better world in the grooviest way possible. If this is what Erykah’s America sounds like, here, here for the revolution.