#4. God Bless Amerykah

(Today and tomorrow I’ll be finishing up the list of my 20 favorite albums of 2008. Obviously I didn’t hear every album that came out–although I did hear quite a lot of them–and obviously personal taste factors into this quite a bit, so I can tell you now that if you’re looking for gospel or metal recommendations this isn’t the list for you. But let’s not squabble, let’s just appreciate all the nice music that folks are making.  And yes, I will try to get them all done by tomorrow, even though I’m DJing the Dose Holiday Party tonight.  Wish me luck!)

Erykah Badu
New Amerykah: Part One (Fourth World War)

“Mommy I’m scared,” a tiny little voice says towards the beginning of Erykah Badu’s CRAZY New Amerykah album, and listening to Badu’s first full album in eight years you know what she means. This record, it’s worth repeating, is CRAZY. CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY.  Crazy wonderful, but also crazy crazy.  Crazy.

The album’s only single was Honey, the hidden bonus track. It’s telling because Badu, who debuted with an explosion of hair wraps and Levi’s ads in 1997, sounds like no one else these days, especially anyone you might hear on hip-hop radio.

This album is so weird, and so intense, and so wonderful, that I feel like I can’t even describe it.  So, I’ll just make a list.  This album contains: a Curtis Mayfield sample, really creepy liner note art, an allusion to the 1976 film Network, a shout-out to Louis Farrakhan, a crazy jazz break, a song recorded in Sun Ra’s studio, a lively countdown to the bonus track, and a four-minute intro produced by legendary jazz composer Roy Ayers.

Luckily, it’s also got some good beats; The Healer, for instance, has the kind of deep bassline that makes me wish there was a decent soundsystem somewhere in my life.  And the songwriting is good, too.  Really good.  And, of course, Badu could sing the screenplay to The House Bunny and make it sound smart and beautiful.

Possibly the craziest thing about the album, though, is the number of producers that were involved, because, batshit though it is, New Amerykah sounds like one person’s strange, crazy vision.

Volume 2 will be out in February.  I can’t wait.

(And, in case you want one more reason to love Badu, check out this video.  She’s kind of my hero.)

Listen!  Erykah Badu, The Healer

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Providence Daily Dose