Thursday, July 17, 2008

Erykah Badu - New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War

Erykah Badu
New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War
(02.2008, Motown)
Verdict = Well, if CMG likes it…

Yeah, that verdict is pretty cheap. I mean how many people actually know that acronym anyway (CokeMachineGlow)? Well, briefly, the online music “magazine” is an uber literary, slowly updated site that seems, despite the great lengths to which their reviews extend and the great lengths at which they seem to apply heavy handed literary devices and philosophies, to be quite focused and stringent in its search and appraisal of worthwhile music; popular, indie or otherwise. So when the CMG crew cumulatively gushed (it’s a CMG rarity, but when the gush, they gush!) about the new Erykah Badu, I pretty much forced myself to listen. So, I am approaching Erykah Badu as rhythm & blues virgin and a pick-and-choose hip hop lover…and this is my first Badu record. Lets see what happens, right? Well, the first track wasn’t super impressionable. I am pretty much predisposed to hate “skits” and other generally ridiculous hip hop interludes and Badu’s first track was pretty much four minutes of that. To be honest, with the funk backing and some of the vocals, it wasn’t as big a knee jerk reaction as I would’ve expected, but it definitely wasn’t impressive. However, the following track (the first actual song), “The Healer/Hip Hop,” was utterly arresting. Now I am not going to go into the same 1700+ word evaluation that The Glow did, but as a piece of minimalistic hip hop awesomeness, “The Healer/Hip Hop” is amazing. The following eight songs (and the “bonus”/outro track tagged onto the end – I got to get this off my chest, how can it be a bonus track if it is on every copy of the album? Are we just supposed to disregard it if we don’t like it?) are fair; even above average. However, the album never quite hits the highs of track two again (“Soldier” gets closest). Fortunately, Badu is enough of a chameleon throughout the remaining songs to keep things interesting all the way through regardless of whether you are a fan of the R&B that much of Badu’s vocals are derived from. It is definitely a crossover type album for the genre, but not necessarily the messiah of 2008 musical output. Part 2 should be out pretty soon, though. Maybe the second time around Badu will hit it out of the park rather than the satisfactory double. I certainly wouldn’t be opposed = CMG has pretty good taste.

-Mr. Thistle

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