Friday, March 26, 2010

REVIEW: ERYKAH BADU//RETURN OF THE ANKH


 First off...I have to say that I have been there in the beginning....watching this beautiful sista grow into the artist she is today. No, I don't mean I was physically there with Ms. Erica Abi Wright, but I was there growing with her music as she evolved. I have to say, Erykah Badu not only inspired me in many ways as an artist, but so many of my singer friends and others alike.

 There was Baduizm which had everyone in '97 wondering who this chick with the head wrap was and what she represented. Next was Mama's Gun which showed Erykah's growth and ability to stretch beyond her critics limitations. World Wide Underground was just a reminder to fans that "Hey! I'm still here and doing my thing". Badu's New Amerykah Pt. 1: 4th World War  came out of nowhere and made fans and naysayers believers again...that she was here to continue bringing us classic,funky,soulful music for generations to come. Now with the New Amerykah Pt. II : Return of the Ankh  dropping March 30, 2010, after many push backs, it has puzzled people as to what new sound Erykah Badu will return with.

For myself, I hear the same Erykah Badu. Vocally she is the same and lyrically there is some stifling but nevertheless, she is still dope stylistically and musically. What disappointed me about this album is it's inability to be cohesive as it's sister albums. I'm sure those on Badu's tits will disagree but this is my review and my thoughts. Don't get me wrong, the songs are good and some better than others, but it still lacks in many ways. I don't feel what the long wait was for like I did with Mama's Gun or with her Kedar label mate D'Angelo's album Voodoo. I really prayed that the songs she released wouldn't be apart of the album but they were so I kind of was ready to give this review before chosen to do so LOL Here is my breakdown of the latest album:

20 Feet Tall
This track has very minimal production. I'm actually surprised since this is a 9th Wonder production. An intro pretty much consisting of an organ sound and Badu. I think this is an intro that may have people eventually skipping over it lol but I dig it. It's the musician in me.

Window Seat
Well, what can I say. A production by James Poyser and Questlove makes this some classic Badu right here. It's vintage. It's soulful...it's what I originally liked about her in the first place. It takes you in so many directions. Plus, you guys know ;) This song was released for our listening pleasure.

Agitation 
This reminds me of something that should have been an intro instead it was made an interlude. I thought it was too early to be an interlude, but hey! What do I know. The production was done by Shafiq Husayn of Sa-Ra who was also responsible for a few tracks on the last installment of New Amerykah. Through the chorus Erykah chants "What a Day,What a day" a borrowed line from her song On & On. I believe that this could have been really hot if it was longer and had more lyrics from Badu.

Turn Me Away (Get Munny)
Oh no! I was pretty hurt. It was leaked early by Badu so we can hear what she had in store. First, let me say. Being that I am a beat junkie and I know where this comes from, I was not impressed. Sylvia Striplin deserved better especially since no one hardly knows who she is, especially in this generation. If  E.Badu was going to attempt this, instead of doing an interpolation, she should have remade the entire song. I didn't think the way she sung the chorus was bad or anything but she should have known better for the execution of this song. No apologies.
Gone Baby, Don't be Long
Another song that has some of the old lines from her previous classic songs. Yet, this is one of my favorites on the album. The production by Taarak is smoking and I enjoy the way Erykah's voice rides it.

Umm Hmm
 That is how I felt when I heard this track. I was like "Umm Hmm, this sample is hot Madlib". Again, Erykah's vocals are simple and lyrics very minimal. Not sure exactly what she is talking about, but I like it.

Love
This one is for DILLA! That's right. Dilla production. I really love this track. Erykah is basically singing her signature cooing. Dope song.

You Loving Me (Session)
 A simple interlude. That is all LOL

Fall in Love (Your Funeral) 
This is another one of my favorite tracks off this album.This was produced by Karriem Riggins. This is basically the same sample from Eddie Kendricks' "Intimate Friends" that Alicia Keys had in her song "Unbreakable". This version is better than Alicia's in my opinion. I like the borrowed Notorious B.I.G. lines also. As for Erykah, her voice has not left her comfort zone. It's still the same. It's expected though so I am not disappointed.

Incense featuring Kirsten Agnesta
 Yeah. Madlib must not have check the drum programming for this one. Pretty melodies + bad drums= a sad FLASHBACKhoney :(


Out My Mind, Just in Time
 Love this piece. It was produced by Georgia Anne Muldrow. Funny, this song is 10 mins long, but I can still listen to it all the way through. The first part of it which is just acoustic piano and light strings, is a perfect fit for Badu's voice. I really wish I heard Georgia sing it though. Just saying. No disrespect to Badu in anyway but when the music turns into some familiar production that is very much Georgia Anne Muldrow's style, I expect to hear Georgia.

 Conclusion:

I think that overall this album could have  been held back a little more until some thought was put into it. Love Badu, love the songs, but lyrics do not have any depth. I think she is running out of ideas or she is going through writer's block as a lot of great musicians and singers do. I give her points for being her original self vocally and for her style as an artist.


FLASHBACKhoney gives this album 5/7 nods
Head Nod Scale
1=Don't waste your time like I did mine.
2=Waste your time like I did mine but I dare you to disagree.
3=Well, there was the single.
4=If it were a hand in spades there's "two and a possible".
5=It's a "good" album. Meaning at least 3 or 4 solid songs.
6=Really Good Project. Has the "Rewind Factor" more than once.
7=The number of completion. Great Album. Instant Classic.



































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2 Comments:

Blogger Dunk said...

*Reporting live from Erykah's tits* I think your review is pretty accurate but in all fairness, i believe alot of folks got turned off by the political aspects of New Amerykah pt.1.( i dug it by the way) It's just good to hear her singing about love lost and found again. I believe it's cohesive with the first. I read somewhere she said the 1st installment was about what was goin on around her and this one is about what's goin on inside of her.

March 26, 2010 at 2:47 PM  
Blogger mpenzi said...

WOW! what a very different view (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/29/AR2010032903685.html) of the same album...can't wait for my vinyl copy so I can add my 2cents straight from da 2"tits" ;}(mmmmm nothing like milk n honey from a goddess)

March 30, 2010 at 2:05 AM  

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