Saturday, March 22, 2008

Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)

If you had lost previous interest in Erykah Badu, you'd almost be excused. After "Baduizm" defined the whole "Neo-Soul" concept in 1997, her later releases fell into a more secure area, as if she had given up the fight. Sure, her unique voice was still there, but it seemed there was some crucial inner-strength that had almost vanished. Thus hearing "New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)", her fourth album in 11 years, you can't help but wanting to give her a warm welcome back. A conceptually ambitious project, her goal in here was to reflect today's conflicting society, after 9/11, voicing global themes like racism and the Iraq war or more personal and abstract everyday struggles. To help putting up her vision, a dream cast of producers was ensembled, representing a big part of what has been exciting in underground hip-hop and soul music for the last few years, like Madlib, Sa-Ra, 9th Wonder or Ahmir Thompson from The Roots. The final result lives up to the high standards one could expect from so much ambition and even surpasses them. With amazingly written songs and texts and the right dose of sonic experimentation, artistic maturity and challenging elegance (filled with unexpected samples, raw beats, minimal orchestrations, intricate arrangements, trippy keyboards or unusual structures), this fierce album sounds like pure intelligence in the form of combat soul music. (8/10)

Erykah Badu - Honey (video)

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