Articulating the social relevance of urban decay, Erykah Badu creates a formula for Amerykah-n chaos.
Marking the day of her birth, February 26 (Savior’s Day), Erykah Badu released the newest instillation of sound as it is translated by our digital age – “New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War).”
FIRST WORK IN FIVE YEARS
Posing an intricate balance between spoken word and the Neo-soul verse that Badu is so often credited, “New Amerykah” spans the talents and teachings of the revered singer/songwriter and combines a technological edge for which sound engineers pine.
Co-produced by Badu and like-minded Detroit-born producer/engineer Mike “Chav” Chavarria (Eminem, Method Man, Snoop Dog), New Amerykah adorns a reverberation of sound, save excess melody and back-beat. Woven into Badu’s lyricism; dozens of tracks from producers 9th Wonder, Shafiq Husayn (Sa-Ra), Madlib, Karriem Riggins and J Dilla, which illustrate the versatility of said singer’s layered vocals and intricate rhythms. Add live performances by trumpeter Roy Hargrove, Jr., bassist Steve ‘Thundercat” Bruner, drummer/producer Karriem Riggins, keyboardist James Poyser and guitarist Jef Lee Johnson, introduce elements of rich, smooth flavor unduplicated by those contrived by the non-linear electronic niche.
A LAYERED MUSICAL RESONANCE
Note the collaboration of efforts on Shafiq’s “Me” by simplifying Badu’s introspective sentiment with Hargrove’s talents on trumpet, exemplified by the layering of “the tracks…the music…the musicians”; as denoted by Badu in an interview with REMIX.
Samples such as James Brown’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf” (“Dirty Dirty”), Nancy Wilson’s “I’m In Love” (“Honey”), Eddie Kendricks’ “My People Hold On” (for Badu’s “My People”) add dimension to the already edgy release.
With the help and creativity of associate producers Jay Electronic (Control Freq Records) and Shafiq (Sa-Ra), Badu and Chev shatter tradition and push the limits of Badu’s Baduizm-familiar, honey-dripped, made-for-Ear Candy vocals to create on omni-present sound that ranges from lullaby to a spot on underground hip-hop’s top ten list.
Worldwide Underground’s core contributors, engineers Chris Bell and Tom Soares, recorded and remixed respectively on New Amerykah and although said to polish Badu’s vocals on the new release, maintained the integrity and raw infliction of her voice throughout.
For all those girls and boys pondering what Erykah’s been up to since the release of Worldwide, I suggest you listen…and learn.
Reviewer’s Pick: “Amerykan Promise” / Track One
This Roy Ayers ’70s tune original was produced for the jazz/soul outfit Ramp, under “The American Promise”. The new rendition features the voice of Om’Mas Keith of SA-RA, with no sparing of funk.
Stay tuned for New Amerykah: Part 2
New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War): Track Listing
Honey (Bonus track) ** / Check out Badu’s self-produced and directed video for “Honey” at www.erykahbadu.com.
SheKnows / Tracks to watch**
Erykah Badu Discography
New Amerykah Part I: The 4th World War (2008)
Worldwide Underground (2003)
Mama’s Gun (2000)
Baduizm – Special Edition (1997)
Badu’s album cover is a collaboration between Badu and graphic artist Emek — The Thinking Man’s Poster Artist. They used symbols of American culture to reflect Badu’s rich beat perspective on a myriad of issues. From music, religion, economic empowerment, global warming and “Big Brother” to our broken emergency response and healthcare systems, it is all in her hair.