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Erykah Badu – “New Amerykah, Part 2: Return of the Ankh” [Playback Review] by Windowpane
Thursday, March 18, 2010, 1:51 am
Filed under: Download, Music, Music New, Music News, Must Read, Things We're Diggin'
Photography Courtesy of PinBoardBlog.com

Photography Courtesy of PinBoardBlog.com

Anyone who knows me personally or frequents this blog will know that I am, unequivocally an Erykah Badu fan. I’ve listened to her for years, I remember buying Baduizm in 1997 and my homies looking at me like I was smoking something green. For me, Badu’s debut has a permanent fixture in my ‘classic albums’ list. Her second album, Mama’s Gun, which many herald as her best to date, was released in 2000, followed by Worldwide Underground in 03 and then New Amerykah, Part 1: 4th World War in 2008.

Now, 2010 marks the release of her newest album New Amerykah, Part 2: Return of the Ankh – the PinBoard crew were among the lucky few who got the opportunity to hear the album (in full) and speak to the lady herself…

Erykah began by explaining that Part 1 was made by using the “left side of [her] brain” – The political, the logical, the analytical. While Part 2 expresses the right, more emotional, part of the brain. She also said that during the recording process of this album, she felt a lot like she did when making Baduizm, which is way she named it Return of the Ankh – as during the Baduizm phase she was reading and researching Kemet (Egypt) and the ‘Ankh’ was her favourite symbol. The symbol (word) meaning life.

ErykahPinBoard

Erykah Badu - "New Amerykah, Part 2: Return of the Ankh (PinBoardBlog.com)

Speaking on the album’s art work (which was blown up and stood behind Erykah as she spoke), Badu explained in quite some detail what exactly the image portrayed and the reasons behind it. Once again collaborating with artist Emek, she explained that ‘she’ (as the art no longer belongs to her (Erykah), it’s now the worlds), is cased in armour as a result of the experiences she has gone through: life, love, war, politics, struggle, bullshit. She explains that she is escaping through her head (“her self-cage”) – and is freeing herself from all the things she has experienced. She is being “re-born”. Badu also pointed out that around her armoured shoulders is the rubble from all the things on the Part 1 cover: money, record players, pollution, weapons and…”bullshit” etc. All this is happening under water too – notice the ripple above. Erykah passionately described the piece of art and said that to her, the cover art is just as important as the music it conceals. “I didn’t have TV growing up, I had album covers…I want my album cover to tell the story too”.

On to the music: New Amerykah, Part 2: Return of the Ankh is gorgeous. I do not think fans will be disapointed. Admittedly, I do need to listen to it more to fully digest what it’s all about, but all I can say is while listening to it – I felt good. Badu is back to singing those soulful melodies, ad-libbing in a way that really reminds me of her debut and Mama’s Gun (although she says she see’s/hears no comparisons) and talking about love, lust and everything in between that involves matters of the heart. Her beat selection was yet again on point. Having worked with the same produces as she did on Part 1 (don’t forget, ALL the songs from Part 1 & 2 were recorded during the same period) i.e. Madlib (“Umm Hmm”, “Strawberry Incense”) , Dilla (“Love”), Sa-Ra (“Agitation”), 9th Wonder (“20 Feet Tall”) and Kareem Riggins (“Get Money”, “Fall In Love”). I cannot stop thinking about “Love” produced by Dilla and “Umm Hmm” by Madlib. Those two tracks along with “Window Seat” are definitely the stand outs thus far. And I must admit, I’m surprised that Erykah dropped “Window Seat” so prematurely – it’s without a doubt one of the album’s strongest tracks, I really think she should have held that one back. If I heard that song, for the first time at yesterday’s playback, I would have jumped out of my seat. Truth.

Return of the Ankh is just that, a return. A return to the Badu that dropped Baduizm & Mama’s Gun. While this new LP sounds very little like the aforementioned, it does see a departure from Erykah’s experimental nature as heard on Worldwide Underground and New Amerykah, Part 1: 4th World War.

On speaking of her music, Erykah ended the session by saying: “If I was to die tomorrow, my kids would know exactly who I was by listening to my music”…

Update: Erykah Badu – “Strawberry Incense” (Listen)

Peace, Love & Erykah Badu

Speeakz

P.s Updated and official tracklist after the jump

1.  20 Feet Tall
2.  Window Seat
3. Agitation
4. Get Money
5. Don’t Be Long
6. Umm Hmm
7. Love
8. Loving Me
9. Fall in Love
10. Strawberry Incense
11. Out My Mind Just In Time


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