Archive for the ‘Erykah Badu’ Category

Busy-ness

March 18, 2008

I know, it’s been a while. I’m still bumpin’ New Amerykah and The Adventures of Seymour Liberty – always important, for me at least, when an album still has spins after the first few weeks. Usually, when I get an album I’m diggin’, I’ll play the crap out of it for a week or two; then, via natural selection, the album will get sorted into the proper hierarchy. For example, Mobb Deep’s Infamous received hella spins when I first got it…and it has pretty strong replay value to this day. Similarly, Common’s Like Water For Chocolate still has spinning influence, or spinfluence, 8 years later (or 7.5 years); compare this with Com’s follow-up, Electric Circus, which I gave plenty of spins when I first got it – now, usually I’ll pick-and-play tracks intermittently.

Market experts predict that EB’s NA will have strong spinfluence – I’m still bumpin’ “Me,” “The Hump,” and “Soldier on the regular. Similar with Coultrain’s ASL (album’s tempo and arrangement reminds me of Dwele’s Some Kinda…)

When I posted my big review of Erykah’s New Amerykah, I think I may have overestimated the commercial appeal. Perhaps it’s the influence of reading others’ reviews, but I think this album may be too layered for commercial staying power. Listen, Erykah’s no Nitchze, but some may not be patient enough to listen to Erykah’s stream of consciousness, dream-like flow. I was glad to see New Amerykah in the top 10 (debuted and peaked at #2; currently #6) after her first week nonetheless. I tend try not to measure an album by sales, but naturally, I support artists I like getting paid.

In addition to the previously noted, I’ve also been bumpin’ my BDP discography. Big ups to hiphopisread for his sample-related posts; listening to BDP is very similar – is KRS-ONE the most cited emcee in hip hop? Or Rakim? Anyone do that research? “Stop the Violence” off By All Means Necessary is where it’s at – relevant 20 years later. And how contemporary does “Necessary” sound? Relativism and racism under the scope; “Yeah, I’m making some money; he’s making some money/but none of these are necessity/what I find to be a necessity is/controlling a positive destiny.”

And finally, I just grabbed the new Tanya Morgan mixtape, Tanya Morgan is a Rap Group, here. I’m a big Tanya Morgan & Von Pea guy so I’m pretty excited to peep this. Anyone check it yet? Thoughts?

One.

EB

March 3, 2008


I was perusing this New York Times article centered on Badu and NA, and this inset picture is so bad ass, I had to post it. BadAss.

It is Erykah’s Amerykah

February 29, 2008

Erykah Badu – New Amerykah, Pt. 1 (4th World War), 2008

I’ve had New Amerykah on blast all week. I’ll say this about Erykah: so damn consistent. I was thinking tonight as I drove home from happy hour with some co-workers, bumpin’ “Me,” a sign of Erykah’s consistency is that I cannot decide which of her albums I like best. Baduizm. Mama’s Gun. Worldwide Underground. New Amerykah, Pt. 1 (4th World War). All strong from front to back, that it’s tough to find anything that would separate one from the other. Baduizm has a soulful, fresh vibe to it. Mama’s Gun features an acoustic, jazz influence. Worldwide Underground has Erykah extending her boundaries a bit. And New Amerykah is an amalgam of them all.

Admittedly, with Erykah I always remind myself that some of her subtle themes may take a while to catch onto, e.g. “So I salute you Farrakhan, cause you are me/before I end this dream, before I take one for the team.” I don’t doubt this is the case with NA. But sonically, this album is incredible. Upon my first few listens, I thought it was extended interludes, punctuated with songs. But, Erykah and her musically-blessed production team are on some next $hit here. Several of the tracks feature more than one arrangement, with songs such as “Master Teacher” and “The Hump” switching up while in progress. I’ve always been a fan of that – it reminds me of a free associative jam session. And a quick note regarding the artists she had working on this: ingenious on her part. Madlib; Karriem Riggins, Roy Hargrove, Sa-Ra, Questlove; James Poyser; 9th Wonder; Roy Ayers; Georgia Anne Muldrow (or as I like to call, the female Madlib). As individuals, they obviously had the albums collective sound in mind. As many different arrangements flow in and out of the album, its sound is seamless.

“The Healer,” hip hop anthem of sorts, implicating the wide appeal that hip hop cradles within its hands; akin to the binding nature of religion, but Erykah recognizes that hip hop span across religions. Madlib. Check. Madlib also does up “My People” as Erykah hips up the now famous Eddie Kendricks chant. As previously noted, “Soldier” is one of my favorite tracks. That flute melody is hypnotic (and reminds me of the flute on Hi-Tek’s “Music for Life” from Hi-Teknology 2: The Chip). Conveys similar mood.

“Me” has been coming on strong over the past few days. This reminds me of something that would have been on Mama’s Gun. I love the clapping percussion; bassline is jazz, undeniably; and the horns. I’m a huge advocate of horns, and the way Hargrove dances them within the beat is great. Substance wise, “Me” may have garnered the most attention, due to Erykah’s open nod to Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan, (whom has recently been rejected and denounced by Senator Obama) but as this article, from the Dallas Morning News suggests, she’s got “me” in mind for her dubious dinner guest. Politics aside, the music backing “Me” is quite a treat.

“Master Teacher” is one of the most interesting compositions on NA. Speculation was abound that Erykah and Georgia Anne Muldrow would be a dynamic duo (check “Fly Away” from Sa-Ra’s The Hollywood Recordings. And I think this Georgia produced track proves that. With the premise centered on the knowledge that nobody knows everything, Georgia’s convoluted melody and thumpin’ drums are ideal for both her and Erykah’s unique deliveries. About half way through the track, a soulful bassline takes over and Erykah gets contemplative, dreamily singing of sleeping babies, sunsets, and lovers.

The Questlove and James Poyser contribution, “The Hump” is Erykah’s vocal zenith of NA. Vocally, I think this is reminiscent of Baduizm‘s “Next Life Time,” or Mama’s Gun ‘s “Kiss Me on My Neck.” Initially, it sounds like an “I Want You” sequel, but turns out to be a commentary on the relationship between a user and her drugs. It’s almost arranged like “Green Eyes” (MG), broken into steps toward drug abuse recovery – she thinks about what’ll it be like if she can get off and how the drug rules her world; then spends a few bars rationalizing her use, “I never dun dope to cope/only smoke a joint or two…I know people do it day and night, night and day…”; finally, she throws up her hands, and wants to be done, “Lord knows I’m tired of this dope.” Classic Badu tale. “Telephone” continues the contemplative vibe, with Erykah singing a nod to those who’ve passed on. I’m not sure how accurate they are, but the internet is swarming with stories that this song is based on Dilla’s mom telling Erykah that during Dilla’s final days, he would be in a sort of hallucinogenic state, talking to ODB about giving him directions to heaven. I’ve read nothing to substantiate this, but it’s a cool concept nonetheless.

It’s been five long years between Erykah releases, but as usual, the wait is well worth it. And with her indicating that she has NA, Pt. 2 set for a release later this year, 2008 is looking bright for soul (don’t forget to check Coultrain). New Amerykah continues the consistency that we’ve come to expect from Badu. As I stated earlier, you can never discount her substance, e.g. “The Hump,” and Erykah’s dynamic interpretation of her world through her music. In my opinion, she remains one of the few artists who can pack so much depth into a commercially viable album. Musically, this album is on par with Mama’s Gun, which, in turn, I held in the same esteem as D’Angelo’s widely acclaimed Voodoo. Kyle, I think our soul music veggies have found their irrigation.

Breaking News: Erykah’s Amerykah

February 22, 2008

Check it. I have a few moments here – but will try and get a lengthier post up later – to follow a scoop on Erykah Badu’s new LP, New Amerykah, Part 1: 4th World War. Word on the street is that it has indeed hit the interweb. Dead ends are abound. But, I HAVE been able to check a few tracks, in addition to “The Healer” & “Honey,” the latter of which has grown on me. So, I’m bumpin’ “Soldier” right now, produced by Karriem Riggins. Heat. Got Erykah on some positive thought of mind – strong, measured drums, floating flute (?) – Riggins punctuating the track with his “Yeah,” “Ha,” & variations of “Ugh;” I listened for a “Let’s Go,” but alas, there is none. Erykah’s got a movement in mind for this: “We goin’ keep marchin’ on, until you hear that freedom song/and if you think about turnin’ back, I got that shotgun on your back…everyone knows what this songs about…” I’m feelin’ this for sure. And it also reminds me that Riggins is on Stonesthrow. Just a bit a foreshadowing.

Kyle beats me to it…

January 29, 2008

Pete and I have talked about this 9th Wonder track being a bit bland; but this video made me forget all that, and just enjoy the music. Couldn’t have said in any better, unless you substitute “Kyle” for “Pete.”

I saw this video last night, but the quality was poor, so I gave up half way through it. I finally saw it in its entirety not more than an hour ago. The throwback ambiance certainly adds to the track – and all of a sudden this 9th Wonder beat is alive and well. Originally, when I was moved to post after seeing this video, it was in response to her rendering of the Ohio Players’ Honey cover (1975)…Erykah looks great. I know Ohio Players were renowned for their “racy” album covers, but Honey is my favorite of theirs. However, I’ve discovered tonight that the full cover has been hidden. To the right, you see the Honey cover we’ve all known and respected. However, here is a fuller image; I assume this is the pull out cover unfolded. In the words of Inspector Gadget, “Wowzer!”

I also love the De La cover rendition; and the nod to Andre’s “Hey Ya” is pretty slick. As per Okayplayer.com, that song featured in that interlude is NOT expected to appear on Amerykah. Harumph.

Video for Erykah’s “Honey”

January 29, 2008

…a video that helps you remember that music can be fun (which isn’t necessarily obvious to the Guilty Simpson’s of the world); see if you recognize all of the album covers, and feel free to drop some artist – album title info in the comments. Some are painfully obvious, while others are not.

Hat tip to Kanye on this one… I’ve certainly moved on from the record store scene (and think digital delivery–done properly–is superior), but this video still leaves me nostalgic for the old days.

Pete and I have talked about this 9th Wonder track being a bit bland; but this video made me forget all that, and just enjoy the music.

Where’s the Soul?

October 8, 2007

Yeah, other than Jill Scott & Musiq (along with Angie Stone, and Eric Roberson), the soul scene has been relatively quiet. There has been quite a bit of noise about possible 2007 releases, including at least one Erykah Badu album (my “I’m holding my breath” button is my kitchen’s utility draw…far back), and a new Al Green album, produced by The Randy Watson Experience. Those are the only leads I have. I think 2008 is probably more realistic for both projects.

I’m not sure what label goes around 4hero, but their Playing With the Changes may be considered a “soul” release; pretty solid listen highlighted by a cover of Stevie’s “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You?)” featuring Terry Devos, as well as tracks with Jack Davey, Darien Brockington, & Phonte. (Speaking of Phonte, I think we can expect a new Foreign Exchange in 2008!)

It’s been a pretty stellar year for hip hop, particularly underground. It started with Madlib & Kweli’s (Kwelib?) Liberation, to which Kyle & I commented to each other, something to this effect: “Damn good start to 2007’s music.” That was my first “2007” album, added to my library 1/1/2007 as per my iTunes. If I recall, Kyle called me on my way home from New Year’s events and told me he had copped it, and the link was waiting for me when I got home (it was a free release).

It’s much too soon to do a year in review. Nuff said.

More Stones Throw goodness…

August 1, 2007

Keeping the Madlib train moving, we also have Percee P’s album to look forward to. As far as I know, Madlib produces it from front to back. Admittedly, I wasn’t put on to Percee until he started appearing on Wildchild & Jaylib releases, but his older stuff is bonafied fire. Not sure why he has never had a full length LP: he’s worked with DITC, Big Daddy Kane, and Pharoahe Monch, to name but a few. Check out Percee slaughtering the beat on “Lung Collapsing Lyrics.” (Track 5) For me, hearing MC Percee P on Jaylib’s “The Exclusive” was a wrap – one of my favorite tracks on that album (which is chock full of classic joints). From previews I’ve heard thus far, Madlib layers a lot of sounds in the album’s production: funky percussions & guitar licks, synthy keys, and soulful samples, on top of it all – he even takes a page from Oh No’s book and samples a video game (I think it’s Contra, but I could be wrong) for “2 Brothers from the Gutter,” which features Diamond D – all in classic Madlib form: predictably unpredictable. “Legendary Lyricist” samples (as far as I can tell) the same Jake Wade & The Soul Searchers song (“Searching For Soul, Pt.1”) that powered Beyonce’s “Suga Mama,” from B-Day, one of the few quality tracks on there. I can only assume that the synthesized “Percee P, Promo” that spots the previews will be absent from the final release.

What can I say? I love the moves Stones Throw makes…truly a record label for the people, by the people. An MLB GM would trade a limb to have the roster Stones Throw has: deep, talented, and varied. Madlib has to be one of the hardest workers in the business – according to this Philadelphia Weekly article, photograhers Eric Coleman & B+ own nearly 40 GBs of unreleased Madlib material! Fourty gigs! My quick calculation puts that at roughly 30 days of music!

In addtion to this Percee P project (slated for a Sept. 18th release), as well as the Beat Konducta in India album, Madlib also has a project with Erykah Badu in the mix, as per Questlove on last week’s Gilles Peterson Worldwide. This brief tidbit made this music listener very happy. Quest also mentioned a project with EB that involved Sa-Ra!

Erykah, where for art thou?

May 14, 2007

Had to throw this up on TT because I think it’s fly as hell…