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New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)

3.7 out of 5 stars 200 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Universal Motown's multi-platinum-selling, Grammy awardwinning singer/songwriter/actress Erykah Badu returns to the music scene with her new album "New Amerykah" featuring the debut single "Honey". Laced with Erykah's bluesy grit and MC style vocals, the song is bolstered by producer's 9th Wonder's razor sharp hip hop beats. Badu describes the song as "an old school track with some funk on it." The release of "Honey" on November 20th also marks Badu's 10th year in the music industry. To celebrate, the gifted trendsetter prepares the release of her much anticipated new album on her birthday, February 26th. Badu has enlisted some of the most talented, groundbreaking underground producers and engineers in the hip-hop game to support her breakthrough return, including Grammy Award winning producer 9th Wonder (Jay-Z, Nas, Mary J. Blige), Madlib, Mike "Chav" Chavarria and R&B singer Bilal. A special, 12-inch pink wax edition will be available only to DJ's next month and will feature underground tracks, "The Healer" and "Real Thang." "The music is the star," says Erykah, "I just laid down my vocals and let the music breathe while the melodies tell the stories." This album is part one of the series New Amerykah Part 1&2.

Amazon.com

Subtitled 4th World War (when was the third, eh?), New Amerykah Part One is the first release in five years from the woman born Erica Wright. The wait was worthwhile though, as this smart, eclectic set, her fourth, adds to the grand tradition of socially conscious soul music. Literally so in the case of opener "Amerykahn Promise", spun by Badu straight over an obscure seventies funk track by Roy Ayers's protégés Ramp. "The Healer" is effectively a tribute to the power of hip hop to ground otherwise lost lives, while the deeply felt "Telephone" commemorates her friend, the late producer J Dilla (and was in fact written the day after his funeral). "The Healer" and "That Hump" deal with the damage caused by drug dependency and "Soldier" is a hard-hitting analysis of the state of Black America. None of which would count for much if the music didn't connect. Though Badu's quirks remain intact--the vocal/saxophone duet at the conclusion of the otherwise ice-cool "Me" (what else) is easily resisted--a terrific team of collaborators including idiosyncratic producers Madlib, 9th Wonder and the three man unit Sa-Ra keep New Amerykah Part One endlessly imaginative, tough, twisted beats sitting alongside softer jazz-funk grooves. The US public certainly assented, sending New Amerykah towards the top of the album charts. Only the eighties-style slow jam "Honey", charming in itself, seems at odds with the serious mood and is thus tagged on the end. The now eagerly anticipated Part Two is due later this year. --Steve Jelbert
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 26, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Motown
  • ASIN: B0012K1ILW
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (200 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,942 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Erykah Badu's new single "Honey" is a catchy upbeat retro funk ditty which still manages to sound contemporary. It's so joyful, no wonder it was picked as the lead-off single for her third studio album proper (though I felt her brilliant "Worldwide underground" was more than just an EP). However, those looking for more of the same on "New Amerykah part 1: World war 4" (the first of a planned trilogy) will be sorely disappointed as nothing else on the CD sounds like it. Maybe that is why "Honey" gets tucked as a hidden track at the end of the CD.

Erykah is like the Radiohead of Soul music. After her introduction to the world on the multi platinum, multi Grammy winning "Baduizm", she went off on a different tangent, largely eschewing regular song structure for loose but intricately structured musical movements, and cerebral, often indiscernible lyrics.

Her new 11 track CD is even more off kilter and uncommercial. It can best be described as a futuristic fusion of funk and jazz beamed from Mars, and I'm sure her record label Motown must have done the same head scratching it did ages ago when Marvin Gaye presented his magnum opus "What's going on" for release. To fully appreciate it, one has to put aside expectations of regular song structure and just go with the flow.

Opening cut "Amerykhan promise" sounds like the soundtrack to some seventies blaxploitation movie with alternating male narration and female harmonies set to a funky bassline and interspersed with horns. One can almost see the women with their huge afros and platforms going "I promise, I promise". "The healer/hip hop" has a haunting feel with chiming triangles, an echoing choir, and lyrics proclaiming hip hop to be "bigger than religion or the government".
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Format: Audio CD
This is the kind of work that will initially confuse and confound a lot of fans but will be hailed a masterpiece years from now. Well...I'm not waiting that long. "4th World War" is the deepest, most organically funky album Ms. Badu has produced yet and it finally does something I was beginning to lose hope of ever happening; it raises the bar! R&B is usually a big yawn to me with copycat divas, generic crooners and phony 'neo soulsters' flooding the market with a glut of pedestrian, unlistenable works, so it's extremely pleasant to hear an already established and popular artist take some risks and produce an unconventional, loosely structured, ridiculously brilliant and crafty work from deep inside her mind, by sheer will, it just works. Mind you, "4th World War" isn't just great because it's different; it's great because it covers a myriad of topics (love, hate, paranoia, depression, war, sexism, addiction, love for hip-hop, aging, maturity) at such a blinding pace and without being preachy that the happy listener feels both exhausted and exhilarated after the experience. Erykah has done it again. Don't miss this one! A Masterpiece.
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By steph on February 28, 2008
Format: Audio CD
WOW!! This album has had so many mixed reviews, from what i've seen online. If people understand Erykah, they will know that she is NOT your everyday kinda woman! She is a deep,sacred,virtuous, unique black woman on a WHOOOOOLE other level, and she is on her journey to even higher, spiritual, creative heights, both personally and musically, and boy am i travelling with her!! lol...
I'm loving this album!! i guess being an old soul helps (i'm 25 and LOVE 70s funk, from vicki anderson to james brown, and classic soul) and i also love Madlib's beats from the albums he has out at the moment, and the work he did with Madvillan. The man's a genius! And of course i'm a huge neo-soul fan :).. I just can't wait to listen to it some more, so i can delve into the lyrics and even more of the production! I'm loving the whole album, but especially 'me', 'soldier', 'the cell' (man what a beat!), master teacher, honey and telephone..

This is MOST DEFINITELY different from her previous albums, so i wouldn't advise anyone who hasn't listened to it yet, to listen to it with her previous work in mind! If you're a commercial head, u won't like this album or 'get' it, SIMPLE lol.. You'll only like 'honey' lol, but if you're a deep neo soul/alternative/funk lover, u will luv it!.. If you're an Erykah fan and disappointed with this album, after a few more listens i think u will begin to feel it, especially if u embrace her individuality! :)..

At the end of the day, it all depends on your personal musical tastes and also by viewing Erykah for MORE than just the music, and not to 'pigeon-hole' her music, and by capturing her essence as a person and the essence of her music, and understanding and appreciating that people grow and change...
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Let me start off by saying I am a HUGE Erykah's fan. In a world of blandness and crappy songs, Erykah is one of those artists that will use music to challenge you. She is inspiring, different, creative, daring, unpredictable and a saver of soul music. On this record, I don't know what Erykah is trying to do. I usually love kilter and uncommercial music by Erykah...but I am really at lost with this project.

The album starts off with "Amerykhan promise". Despite its weirdness, this is one of the few tracks I dig. The song sounds like it came from a soundtrack to a 70s blaxploitation movie. Erykah is trading lines with a male narrator and the bassline and horns are blaring. This song will surely cause some religion folks to sit up because Erykah is basically saying hip hop is "bigger than religion or the government".

The song "Me" is autobiographical and deeply personal. Erykah gives us a look into her world as she confronts some of the decisions she has made in her life. This song basically tells us to accept her for who she is and nothing else because she is comfortable in her skin. The music can be described as a smooth jazz set to 70s soul.

Erykah's "Honey" is retro-contemporary funk song that sounds out of place on this strange project. It's probably the only song that is radio-friendly, which explains why it is a hidden track and is the first single.

"The cell" (jazz), "Master teacher" (psychedelic) "That hump" (crazy bassline), and "Soldier" (great message) deserves special recognition from me. However, it took MULTIPLE listenings for me to understand these songs.

As for "My people" and the other songs, I probably will never like (and trust me, I have tried). However, I don't consider this cd a lost cause. Erykah plays by her own rules and this is why I respect her so much. So I will say this to Ms. Badu, even though I am struggling with this project please keep challenging and provoking us with your music.
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