CD Review: New AmErykah by Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu’s 1997 debut album, Baduizm, garnered critical and popular acclaim. Fans appreciated the blend of jazz-influenced R’B with an urban edge. Critics lauded Badu, comparing her lilting vocals to Billie Holiday. Her subsequent albums have stayed true to an R’B sound, but have grown increasingly experimental.

Worldwide Underground, released in 2003, is a 50 minute EP, which sounds more like a casual jam session than a cohesive album, and with New AmErykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War she continues the experimentation, creating an esoteric disc that baffles as much as entrances.

If you’ve heard the lead single “Honey” and think you’ll get more of the same early 90s sound then you’re in for a surprise. The track is easily one of the strongest and most commercial, but it’s a hidden track being aurally unique to the disc.

“Amerykahn Promise” starts the album properly strong with an intro and background guitar riff right out of Coffy or Shaft. The song’s funky groove melts right into the tantric chants and hypnotic chimes of “The Healer.” This track is one of the more successful experimental efforts exposing Badu’s lyrical prowess. Lines like “we ain’t dead yet. (said the children) / don’t believe it / we just made ourselves invisible” and “wake up we miss you

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