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New Amerykah, Pt. 2 - Return of the Ankh

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Album Review

Return of the Ankh was supposed to be issued earlier than March 2010. It's just as well: 2008's stupefying 4th World War provided such a dense concentration of charged lyrics over ceaselessly vein-melting production work that Erykah Badu could have been forgiven for letting five years pass prior to unveiling something else to soak up. Return of the Ankh is a relief in that Badu does not attempt to trump herself with a set that is even more intense and powerful than its predecessor. Thematically, it's aligned with 4th World War's relatively lighter songs, "Me" and "Honey," more personal than planetary, less challenging sonically and lyrically. Most of it was actually recorded at the same time as 4th World War. The list of collaborators, featuring Georgia Anne Muldrow, Madlib, Shafiq Husayn, Dilla, James Poyser, Ahmir Thompson, and Karriem Riggins, is similar, yet the makeup is drastically different, designed for instant kicked-back enjoyment. A pause, deep breath, and a "Here we go" is not required prior to putting it on. Instead, we get Badu playing around, in the best possible way, with sample-rooted songs like "Turn Me Away (Get Munny)" (a twist on Sylvia Striplin's "You Can't Turn Me Away" and the 1995 hip-hop anthem that sampled it, Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s "Get Money"), "Gone Baby, Don't Be Long" (a slightly silly new-love song that reworks Paul McCartney's "Arrow Through Me"), and "Umm Hmm" (its optimism reflected in that of its backbone, Ndugu & the Chocolate Jam Company's Earth, Wind & Fire-like "Take Some Time"). Though the album is so rich with sample-reliant songs that it sometimes resembles a glorified mixtape, a couple standouts were made from scratch. "Window Seat" should appeal to those who have wanted Badu to revisit that lissome sound of Baduizm songs like "On & On" and "Otherside of the Game," and it packs stunning stomp-and-clap breakdowns that sync up with Badu's most halting lines: "I need you to want me/I need you to miss me/I need your attention/I need you next to me." "Out My Mind, Just in Time" is a ten-minute finale that traces a trajectory of heartache across three movements, beginning innocently enough with a devotional (if pained and humorous) piano ballad that shifts into Muldrow's psychedelic, slow-motion soul-jazz as Badu gets increasingly fragmentary and tripped-out. By the end, she is renewed: "Finally I got a leading role/Introducing Super Dope/Starring in her episode/Hello new world/Out my mind." Actual next level, as always.

Customer Reviews

Beautiful & sumptuous - Erykah at her best!

Having been a fan since Baduizm I can honestly say that 13 years on, this album does not disappoint. After so much manufactured music & marketing this collection of songs makes you realise what true soul/jazz/funk (heck, whatever you want it to be!)music really is. Relax into the lush basslines and let Erykah's soulful emotive voice wash over you. Stand out tracks for me are Turn Me Away (Get MuNNY) and Fall in Love (Your Funeral), showcasing funk soul grooves and great lyrics.
This organic album will no doubt grow and change with each listen - something that makes every Erykah album sound fresh every time its played, which in this day and age is no mean feat.
All you have to do is sit back, relax and drink in every melody, lyric and bassline. Mmmmmmmm!

Soul album of the century so far!!

Breathtaking stuff...more organic / less experimental than Part 1 but all the better for it in my opinion. Will definitely appeal to a wider audience anyway.

If you're a true lover of soul music, you must hear this record. In times of over-produced, auto-tune 'R&B' garbage, this is truly a breath of fresh air.

Erykah, you are a bona fide genius.

Possibly Erykah Badus most accomplished LP to date.

Absolutely blown away. Sprinkle some production from J Dilla, Madlib, Roots, 9th Wonder and add some of the vibe of her first LP - and you're half way to understanding where Erykah Badu wanted to go with this project, and how accomplished this LP is. There's a real J Dilla-esque headnod vibe throughout, but thats not to say this LP is a one trick pony based on underground rap production, not at all. The material that was created away from the rap basement really adds some diversification to the beautiful sonics Badu has created - all the way through to the end when it drops down into some classic sounding solo stuff. Pretty tight return, my advice? Stop reading this and buy it.


Born: 26 February 1971 in Dallas, TX

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

She grew up listening to '70s soul and '80s hip-hop, but Erykah Badu drew more comparisons to Billie Holiday upon her breakout in 1997, after the release of her first album, Baduizm. The grooves and production on the album are bass-heavy R&B, but Badu's languorous, occasionally tortured vocals and delicate phrasing immediately removed her from the legion of cookie-cutter female R&B singers. A singer/songwriter responsible for all but one of the songs on Baduizm, she found a number 12 hit with her...
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