Artist: Erykah Badu
Album: New Amerykah Part 2 (Return of the Ankh)
An album dedicated to misery and emotional stasis isn’t what we’d expect to see from an artist like Erykah Badu, whose repertoire is founded on a persona of a self-empowered neo-soul earth mother. In New Amerykah Part 2 (Return of the Ankh), Badu all but abandoned the politics and revolutionary drive of Part 1 and opts instead for a sound that is atmospheric and intimate – dripping with pathos and melancholy.
Buoyed by jazzy production from the likes of Madlib and Karriem Riggins, Part 2 drifts seamlessly from track to track, creating a feeling that is weightless but heartfelt. Though Badu’s soulful voice perfectly juxtaposes the album’s bluesy ambiance, it feels constrained. “But I want you to want me/Need you to miss me/I need your attention” she croons on lead single “Window Seat.” She sounds defeated and painfully self-pitying, a huge departure from the persona she built over her previous albums. But if New Amerykah Part 1 establishes Badu as a politically conscious and eccentric revolutionary, Part 2 certainly presents a different side of her – a side that is vulnerable, unanimated and painfully human.
Give these tracks a listen: “Gone Baby, Don’t Be Long,” “Love”
For Fans of: Madlib, Shafiq Husayn, Raphael Saadiq, Lauryn Hill
– Amber Yan