4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
(Hip-hop) love of Erykah's life,
This review is from: New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) - UK Edition (Audio CD)
In 200? Erykah surprised/shocked a few people with the release of `Love Of My Life' a duet with Common dedicated to hip-hop (she even raps on the video). This was a little bit unusual for the lady who had built a reputation as the neo-soul queen. Truthfully that track should not have been so surprising as the 1st single to her previous album sampled none other than Dr Dre (Xplosive from 2001). It was therefore not such a huge shock when I learned that the 1st single to her new album was produced by 9th Wonder (great video). What did shock me however was how far she takes the hip-hop influence in her album.
Most soul singers would have gone with Will.I.Am, Wyclef Jean, Kanye West or even The Neptunes (see Estelle) to create a radio ready but hip-hop sound. Ms Badu goes underground (in an attempt to channel the late great J Dilla) choosing Madlib (MF Doom), 9th Wonder (Little Brother) and chief contributors Sa-Ra Creative Partners.
The result is a disjointed effort which at first listen sounds like a mixtape styled blending of rhymes over beats. The production tends to be the dominant presence in this album when it was her voice (and skilled penmanship) that fuelled her past albums. Erykah herself also strays from her mainstay of melodies that accentuate her voice and opts for chants that are delivered in a rap like fashion, `The Cell'. As if taking a queue from collaborator Georgia Ann Muldrow she even distorts/contorts her voice to create an instrument sounds on `The Cell', `Twinkle' and `Master Teacher'.
Only in the final quarter of the album does Erykah return to the style that she is best known for. `That Hump' and `Telephone' leave you wishing that the album could continue for another 30 minutes.
After several listens however you as you begin to grasp the politically charged lyrics and you grow accustomed to the musical stylings of Sa-Ra the album starts to grow on you. And while it is far from my favourite Erykah CD it does have a place in my collection; next to J Dilla's "Donuts", filed under the section WAY AHEAD OF ITS TIME