Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) Universal Motown B0010800-02 (2008)
I don’t listen to much R&B these days. And why should I? Most of it is that bad…you know, rank, superficial posturing on nothing more than ridiculous and unending “American/Pop Idol” melisma. I won’t even get into the Amy Winehouse types. It’s been years since anything close to as good as Voodoo, or even The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, has crossed my path. This New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) is something though. Erykah Badu has an unusual voice. Her lyrical subject matter is, on the one hand, nothing new, but, on the other hand, there is nothing in her songs that is anything less than supremely relevant. The music leans on hip hop and darker Seventies soul without sounding like it’s trying too hard to sound like either. If you want soul/R&B that makes an effort to be meaningful, then you’ve come to the right spot. She released a Part Two that felt considerably more limp and less engaged.