Everybody is the queen or king of something these days, and Erykah Badu is the ‘queen of neo soul’. But this tag doesn’t really do her justice as her work incorporates elements from hip hop, jazz, reggae, R&B and many other styles. True eccentric that she is, however, her personality is the real ticket seller here, with her bizarre singing stylings adding a subtly psychedelic note.
Erykah is a natural freak and doesn’t need to be loud, shrill or overbearing to drive this point home. As her voice smoothly snuggles into the warm grooves of her new album New Amerykah Part II: Return of the Ankh, we hear a record that continues the traditions of Sly Stone, Miles and Betty Davis and yet presents a new, funky world music for the 21st century. The sequel to New Amerykah Part One: 4th World War (2008) is a treat for those who don’t believe that new production techniques alone break new musical ground.
From the opener 20 Feet Tall with its 5th Dimension keyboard riffs through to the hazy Out My Mind Just in Time (Part 2), the albums equips the dancer with with a spiritual, forward-looking soundtrack. Warmly recommended.