Erykah Badu

You'll get over it, your initial disappointment that Erykah Badu's New Amerykah Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh, daffy title aside, is not nearly as mind-bogglingly deranged as you'd feared (hoped?) it would be. You had reasons to assume a certain level of insanity: such reasons as, oh, say, 2008's New Amerykah Pt. 1 (subtitled 4th World War and easily the craziest, fieriest, most spellbinding R&B album of the past decade), not to mention the volatile, mesmerizing specter of Badu herself, the best live performer on earth and probably among the human race's top 15 most fascinating specimens, period. Ankh is like watching her do her taxes or parallel-park or something — a bizarre (but not quite bizarre enough) mingling of the pedestrian and the otherworldly. As if she's walking on the post office. Gone, mostly, is 4th World War's dense, psychedelic, sociopolitically incendiary mash-up of Funkadelic and Network (seriously — it climaxes with an eerie remake of Peter Finch's "I'm mad as hell" speech, now railing against rims instead of toasters), replaced here with a spate of reasonably well-behaved, perfectly lovely lovey-dovey love songs that are, to her credit, just ever so slightly off.


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