Erykah Badu
New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh


3.5
great

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
March 29th, 2010 | 19 replies | 11,198 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Badu beats an initially perplexing retreat into introspection - but give it time.

It's a musical truism that is literally repeated ad nauseum, but here's one more for old time's sake; sometimes, releasing an undisputed, stone-cold classic is as much of a curse as a blessing. New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) was a decade-defining and career-defining statement of intent, as unsettling as it was beautiful, and it put Badu's name on the lips of people who'd never tried or enjoyed her music before. On the good side, she'll always be able to point to that moment with pride. On the bad....what the hell could she do to follow it?

Much of the pre-release buzz about New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh has suggested that the album would be a lot more personal and traditional than its predecessor, and that rings true; one listen to the effortlessly brilliant "Window Seat" is enough to confirm that, as is the video, where she gets literally naked to reflect the metaphorically naked lyric. Rarely has a lead single so neatly summed up the album it's promoting; amidst the otherwise sweet, face-value love song, Badu directly confronts her fears and uncertainties on how to follow up her masterpiece.

So presently I'm standing
Here right now, you're so demanding
Tell me what you want from me
....
So, in my mind I'm tussling
Back and forth 'tween here and hustling
I don't wanna time travel no more


The song should simultaneously douse and change expectations; it's clear that the replicating the futurism of 4th World War isn't the aim here. Yet that's Badu's problem; that record was so incredible that anything less is going to upset some people. That expectation, for better or worse, is what makes Return of the Ankh what it undoubtedly is - a truly great album that still disappoints.

This is an album that rewards patience and time, though, because underneath the new smoother exterior lies a batch of songs that are surprisingly loose and free (there's even an off-the-cuff laugh on "Love"). Maybe it's the result of having another child, or maybe it's the cartharsis that writing 4th World War brought her, or perhaps it's even the Obama effect; either way, Erykah sounds an awful lot more content here than she did on her last record. It makes this an entirely different proposition to the previous record's futuristic political paranoia, and one that needs to be met on its own terms; there is really so little linking the two albums at heart that it's tempting to wonder why they share a title.

The one area where this album is a clear step down for Erykah is consistency - there's little denying that the jazzy "Agitation" is pretty mediocre, and it's definitely a record that peaks at its start and finish. "Strawberry Incense" and "Out My Mind, Just in Time" are both fantastic, while the bonus track "Jump Up in the Air (Stay There)" is hands down the song of the year so far. Yet otherwise, it's an assured, accomplished, and enjoyable album. It's not the album of the year contender her fans had predicted, but that's no real fault. If only any of the other great soul innovators had followed up their masterpieces this well.



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user ratings (74)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Plutonio (4)
New Amerykah Part Two is an album that deals in organic funk and a refreshing ebb and flow, combinin...


Comments:Add a Comment 
pixiesfanyo
March 29th 2010



1222 Comments


still digesting this. i don't think its weaker, but i definitely am sore on the topics being different. love the dilla track.

Iai
Emeritus
March 29th 2010



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I liked 4th World War a lot more than you did; I guess with this one my opinion's probably just come onto to your level.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 29th 2010



15019 Comments


jump up in the air and stay there is so funky and yet disconcerting and wayne's verse fits perfectly. such an awesome song.

Bulldog
March 29th 2010



3796 Comments


yay for moar hip hop reviews.

obviously, a good one here.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
March 29th 2010



4950 Comments


yeah this is definitely weaker than part 1. i'm at a 3 or 3.5.

part 1 was a near classic.

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
March 30th 2010



1614 Comments


Fucking love Jump Up in the Air, and Part 1 was really good, i'll check it out.

Bulldog
March 30th 2010



3796 Comments


i'm surprised this staff review only has six comments.

oh wait, it's on an album by a female rapper.

nevermind.

Iai
Emeritus
March 30th 2010



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Erykah Badu isn't a rapper....

shortz
March 30th 2010



201 Comments


I've heard so many good things about Part 1 and I keep on forgetting to check it out. I just heard "Jump In The Air" today and it was pretty good. If I like Part 1, I'll definitely check out Part 2. Or I'll just check them both out regardless 'cause finding/listening to new music is awesome.

igloodude
March 30th 2010



398 Comments


Erykah Badu is awesome.

JizzInMyPants
March 31st 2010



2369 Comments


dam jump in the air is dope, gonna have to check out the part 1 thing then this, sounds cool

EBTCardMania
March 31st 2010



512 Comments


Check out the video for "Window Seat".

vVlifeVv
April 12th 2010



1 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

This album is really good.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2010



15019 Comments


lol

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
November 30th 2010



15019 Comments


i love the weezy verse on jump up in the air and stay there idk why though

captaincrunch11
January 7th 2011



1198 Comments


Fall in love is so boss

MUNGOLOID
February 1st 2011



4290 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

really dug her older stuff so will have to give this a good listen.

MaskAtTheMasquerade
February 16th 2011



2887 Comments


Gone Baby, Don't Be Long is so good.

GetOutOfMyHouse
June 11th 2014



214 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I really believe this is her masterpiece. Amazing, song after song.



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