Erykah Badu: New AmErykah Part One (4th World War)

Last week, Erykah Badu held an “intimate” listening session for Part One of her two-part release New AmErykah. As the petite powerhouse briefly spoke on the nature of Part One, it rang clear that Miss Badu put every ounce of her being into this work. That’s not to say that her classics Baduizm and Mama’s Gun weren’t equally reflective of who Erykah truly is, but New AmErykah presents a whole different perspective of the Neo-Soul Queen. The greater whole of New AmErykah is produced by Mad Lib, Sa-Ra Creative Partners, and Badu herself, instilling the proper elements of Hip-Hop and Jazzy Funk mixed with the intangible something that Erykah delivers every time. AmErykah opens with a remix of the Roy Ayers (RAMP) classic “American Promise,” aptly re-titled “Amerykahn Promise.” The smoothed out funky track is enhanced by Erykah’s intense vocals, as it carries into the psychotropic “The Healer.” Erykah never abides by the formulaic theory of Neo-Soul flag waving like some of her one trick pony genre-peers. This Pisces can shock and awe every time. Much like Worldwide Underground, New Amerykah flows like a continuous jam session that changes direction with ease. Songs like “Me” and “My People” host nostalgic vibes from the ‘70s, while at the same time channeling those five minutes of meaning back in '99. “Soldier” is marching music, much like the incense laced posse cut “Master Teacher” featuring the likes of Georgia Anne Muldrow, Bilal, and Ty & Kory. Her single “Honey” is the bonus track, but arrives too late as the ?uestlove/James Poyser produced Dilla tribute “Telephone” fogs the mind after just one listen. We learned from Dilla’s mom by way of Erylah that Dilla would slip into hallucinogenic states before losing the battle to Lupus. Dilla would converse with the spirit of ODB, advising Dilla which bus to take to heaven. It’s the intimacy of anecdotes like those that separate New AmErykah from previous Badu works (even calling Tyrone). So as the analog girl continues to cultivate obscurity in the digital world, it’ll be interesting to hear what the July release of Part Two will have to offer. Hopefully, listeners will “get it” the first time around (unlike Phrenology and dare we say Electric Circus). That could be the major pitfall of New AmErykah. The other is waiting five whole months for the second half.