Erykah Badu, 'New AmErykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh' (Universal Motown)

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New AmErykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh
Critical Mass
Label: Universal Motown

by Sean Fennessey

Erykah Badu has always been elusive -- this is just her fifth full-length since 1997 -- but when she surfaces, she stuns. If 2008's extraordinary New Amerykah Part One: 4th World War was a lunar journey laced with P-Funk absurdism, then Part Two is earthbound and elemental. Often plainspoken and unguarded -- "I pray for you, crochet for you," she sings, delicately on the 10-minute closer, "Out of My Mind Just In Time" -- this is Badu's version of lover's rock. It's not simple or adoring -- she plays a hustler's loyal moll and a greedy ex with equal aplomb. Typical Erykah Badu: committed, but impossible to pin down.

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