Last night, in New York City’s Chung King studios, I attended Erykah Badu’s play back of her new record “New Amerykah Part II: Return of the Ahnk.” The LP is the second installment of “New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War),” which hit shelves February 2008 and sounds completely different than the first album. Where “Part One” is electronic and socially aware, “Return of the Ahnk” is a simply worried about Badu’s take on male-female romantic relationships and the drama these unions entail.
The opening track “20 Feet Tall” sets the tone for the album, as Badu sings ” If I get off my knees, I’ll realize I’m 20 feet tall.” When asked what the lyrics meant, Badu, dressed in yellow sweat pants, a grey top, cerulean socks and silver sparly mary-jane heels with an argyle sock as a head scarf, said something like ‘it’s about me being in my own head and realizing, I’m doing all of this to myself.’
“Get Money” was also a standout track and samples Sylvia Striplin’s “You Can’t Turn Me Away” which really means Junior Mafia’s “Get Money” to you and I. When the song’s beat dropped, everyone in the listening session, which was held in almost completely darkness save a few low track lights, began grooving. “Get Money” was followed by an interlude of Badu over a bassline, comically singing “You’re loving me and I’m driving your benz, You’re loving me and I’m spending your ends…You’re loving me and I’m fucking your friends…ain’t that terrible?” The Texas native is definitely amused by her own creativity.
**UPDATE: Bootleg “Jump Up in the Air” track rip added after jump**
Finally, “Out of My Mind Just in Time” is for those that enjoyed “Green Eyes,” Badu’s three movement break-up song on 2000’s “Mama’s Gun.” Unfortunately, she only played two movements. The first was a simple jazz piano and Badu’s voice singing “I’ll go to the store for you, make it from scratch for you…guess I’m a fool for you” and on the second, the singer belts out over an offbeat kick drum and running piano riff with neither on the same rhythm. However, Badu explained that a third portion is on the way which will explain movements one and two and close out the song’s schizophrenia.
Ultimately, “Return of the Ahnk” is funky, and exemplifies Badu’s ability to mess hip-hop references with rubber soul and contemporary female-leaning lyrics that her fans love. The LP’s departure from “New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War)” proves that while her last album might not have made sense to everyone, Badu is able to create both far left and commercial music. This makes her one of the best soul singers of our generation according to Parlour’s standards.
ps. Jay Electronica, pictured above and now lives in BK(?), was also there along with their new baby who was in another room. So they’ve gotten back together, we’re assuming…
pps. some did a bootleg rip of the track “Jump Up in the Air,” here you go!
“New Amerykah Part II: Return of the Ahnk” hits shelves February 2010 and below is the tracklisting:
- 20 Feet Tall
- Window Seat
- Get Money
- Donâ€™t Be Long
- Umm Hmm
- Fall in Love
- Out My Mind Just in Time (Part 1) (Undercover Over-Lover)
- Out My Mind Just in Time (Part 2)
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