Erykah Badu review

New tunes from the soul diva tried and tested...

Music feature

New Amerykah Part Two
In New Amerykah Part One, society was on the brink. Pieced together largely on a laptop, that trippy platter crackled like an emergency broadcast from 1977, echoing Black Panther Party politics and Howard Beale’s manic Network rant for a new recession. But for Part Two Erykah Badu crawls out of the bunker and glides into a dimly lit bop club.

On these deep and funky tunes, the mother of three sounds laaaid-back. Love, in its pain and pleasure, is the recurring theme through these mellow, chorusless jams, which draw heavily on the gooey, organic grooves of soul-jazz. Her typical collaborators – Madlib, the late J Dilla, and James Poyser and Questlove of The Roots – keep things seamlessly boiled down to electric piano, crisp drums, squishy slap bass and the occasional harp or chimes.

No singer rides a beat quite like Badu, her girlishness comically played up in ‘Turn Me Away (Get MuNNY)’. Trading the Afro wig for pigtails, she coos, ‘Money, can you come out and play?’ The heaviest thing here is ‘Gone Baby, Don’t be Long’, which samples ‘Arrow Through Me’ by Wings. Yes: Paul McCartney, funk master. Near the end Badu tries to warn us: ‘You don’t want to fall in love with me.’ It’s impossible not to.
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