Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) (2008)

From the opening song “Amerykahn Promise,” which samples RAMP’s “The American Promise,” Erykah Badu’s fourth studio practically drips with clever, cutting social commentary (in particular equal rights and justice). That mode of barely contained rage, contained as it is within cathartic, esoteric humor, is all over the album: From “Me” to “The Healer” to “Soldier,” Badu is very much lost in her own mind and using music and art as a conduit to sort out her own chaotic thoughts, but the record is anything but inconsistent. Like most hip-hop or neo-soul albums it has a hearty, potent intellectual core that drives much of the music’s flow and impact, and Badu herself is never anything less than alternately fascinating and confusing.

Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)

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