Monday, March 29, 2010

Music's Poet Laureate: Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu
Window Seat
[Official Video]
Director: Coodie Rock
Inspired by Brooklyn-based duo Matt and Kim

The video for Badu's first single off of her new album was filmed in downtown Dallas with no crew, no set, and in one take. The controversial clip is thought provoking which is always the case for Badu. She uses allusions to the JFK Assassination (opening audio and gunshot at the end). The reference ties in with the words she speaks at the end.

Spoken word from the video:
"They play it safe…Are quick to assassinate what they do not understand. They move in packs ingesting more and more fear with every act of hate on one another. They feel most comfortable in groups, less guilt to swallow. They are US! This is what we have become, afraid to respect the individual. A single person within a circumstance can move one to change, to love our self, to EVOLVE."

Badu's new album New Amerykah, Part II: Return of the Ankh is the second installment of the series of a planned three albums. The first, New Amerykah, Part II: 4th World War, dealt with political and social issues while Return of the Ankh surrounds more personal issues such as love. Since Worlwide Underground, Badu has been taking a more abstract approach to music. Her albums have consisted of sparse sounds and have been more about an aesthetic. The new album seems to be a throwback to old Badu style with slinky soulful tracks and R&B samples. The soul is back and Badu still stands as the who only neo-soul girl who has stuck to her guns while still evolving. (Jill Scott and Angie Stone have both gone more commercial while India.Arie has plateaued.) The new album is stellar. I especially love the Out My Mind, Just in Time which reminds me of Green Eyes from the Mama's Gun LP. Erykah Badu stands out as more than a musician to me. In a world void of African American political/spiritual leaders that we had in the past, Badu uses her art to act as our own Stokely Carmichael and Angela Davis. She is not alienating; only truthful. A true artist. A true poet.

Key Tracks: Window Seat; Umm Hmm; Turn Me Away (Get Munny); Out My Mind, Just in Time

Erykah’s fifth album, New Amerykah, Part II: Return of the Ankh, will be released on Tuesday, March 30.

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