New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)

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New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)
Studio album by Erykah Badu
Released March 30, 2010 (2010-03-30)
Recorded 2006–2009
Electric Lady Studios
(New York, New York)
Genre Neo soul, funk, R&B, soul
Length 50:36
Label Universal Motown
Producer Erykah Badu (also exec.), Mike 'Chav' Chavarria, J Dilla, Questlove, James Poyser, RC Williams, Jahborn, Madlib, 9th Wonder, Sa-Ra, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Karriem Riggins, Ta'Raach
Erykah Badu chronology
New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)
(2008)
New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)
(2010)
Singles from New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)
  1. "Window Seat"
    Released: February 5, 2010
  2. "Turn Me Away (Get MuNNY)"
    Released: March 24, 2010
  3. "Gone Baby, Don't Be Long"
    Released: February 2011

New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) is the fifth studio album by American recording artist Erykah Badu, released March 30, 2010, on Universal Motown. Production for the album was handled by several producers, including J Dilla, Questlove, James Poyser, Madlib, 9th Wonder, Sa-Ra, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Karriem Riggins. Contrasting its socially themed and complex predecessor, New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) (2008), New Amerykah Part Two contains a prominently groove-based, analog sound with personal and love-related lyrical themes.

The album debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 110,000 copies in its first week. It achieved moderate international success and produced three singles, "Window Seat", "Turn Me Away (Get MuNNY)", and "Gone Baby, Don't Be Long". Upon its release, New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) received general acclaim from music critics. Pitchfork Media ranked it number 18 on its list of the Top 50 Albums of 2010.[1]

The album was recognized as one of The 100 Best Albums of the Decade So Far by Pitchfork Media in August 2014.[2]

Background[edit]

In contrast to its predecessor New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) (2008), which was digitally produced and political in tone, New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) incorporates sampling and live instrumentation, while its more personal lyrics focus on themes of romance and relationships.[3][4] Badu has described its sound as "very analog".[5] Recording during 2006 to 2009, a portion of the album was recorded at New York City's Electric Lady Studios.[6] She told Rolling Stone that she recorded her vocals for the song "Window Seat" in her shower, stating "I wanted to sound like I was in a tunnel. I got my laptop and closed the door".[7] In an interview for Billboard, Badu explained that "We used a lot of analog instruments—harps, strings, drums, piano, and even a Theremin—to give the album that sonic feel. There's a strong undercurrent of bottom, a rumbling to these songs that feels good to me. It feels like a hug".[4] In the same interview, she explained the album's title, stating:

I called it 'Part II: The Return of the Ankh' because this album is the sister of the left side of my brain – it is the right side.'Part I was the left side of my thoughts – it was more socially political and my thought process was more analytical. This time there wasn't anything to be concerned with – the album is more emotional and flowy and talks about feelings. It reminds of the days of 'Baduizm' – this is just about beats and rhymes in a cipher.[4]

—Erykah Badu

According to Badu, the album's closing track, "Out My Mind, Just in Time", is a three-movement song: "The first movement is called 'Recovering Undercover Over-lover.' It actually sums up the whole album, because I'm talking about love and emotion – 'I need you to do this,' 'I want you to do this,' 'You make me feel like this,' 'Why don't you feel like this?' It's typical of how you feel in relationships. The second movement is called ... 'Easier Said Than Done,' and it's about how hard it is to change after you've been in a relationship for so long. And then the third movement is called 'But Not This Time,' because even though I've done things a certain way for so long, I won't do that this time".[8]

Release and promotion[edit]

The album was released March 30, 2010 on Universal Motown in the United States.[9] It is set for release in Japan on April 14, 2010.[10] New Amerykah Part Two's cover art, titled "Out My Mind Just In Time",[11] shares the name of the album's closing track and was designed by visual artist Emek, who had also designed the artwork for New Amerykah Part One.[12] He explained on his website that he used song lyrics from the album as inspiration.[12]

In promotion of the album, Erykah Badu hosted a series of listening sessions for press and VIPs at Chung King Studios in New York City on December 9 and December 10, 2009.[13] During March 2010, Badu promoted the album through television performances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Wendy Williams Show, Chelsea Lately, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and Good Day New York.[14] She also appeared on the April issue cover of EQ magazine and was featured in the April issues of Nylon and Playboy, while she is also scheduled to appear in upcoming issues of several publications, including Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Time Out New York, Spin, Vibe, Paste, and People, among many other publications.[14] Badu performed at a surprise midnight show on March 31, 2010 at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.[15]

Singles[edit]

The internet-only promotional single "Jump up in the Air (Stay There)", featuring Lil Wayne and Bilal, was released on Badu's official website in January 2010. RC Williams, Badu's musical director, said that a music video for the track was shot in Dallas.[16] A censored "clean" version of the video was released on February 12, 2010 on Badu's official website.[17] It has been made available as a free, legal download by Giant Step, the marketing and promotion company for the album.[18]

The album's first official single, "Window Seat", was released by Badu through a downloadable link on her Twitter page.[19] The song peaked at number 16 on Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[20] The video for "Window Seat" was directed by Coodie Rock and premiered on Erykah's official Site on March 27, 2010 at 3:33 AM EDT. In the video, Badu is seen walking the streets of Dallas near Dealey Plaza, slowly stripping to the nude, before being shot by an unseen assassin.[15] The album's second single, "Turn Me Away (Get MuNNY)", was released March 24, 2010 by Badu as a free download online.[21][22] It spent three weeks on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, peaking at number 87.[20]

On Wednesday, February 9, 2011, vimeo.com released a new video for Gone Baby, Don't Be Long directed by Flying Lotus. The video was tweeted by Badu herself and friend and associated music act Questlove from the Roots.[23]

Tour[edit]

The album's international supporting tour, "Out My Mind, Just In Time Tour", began its North American-leg on May 28, 2010, starting at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. and ended June 24, 2010 at the Pearl Concert Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada.[24] Its European-leg began July 9, 2010 at Sweden's Hultsfred Festival and ended July 24 at Brixton Academy in London, England.[25] Badu was supported on the tour by N.E.R.D., Bilal, Janelle Monáe and The Roots-drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson.[26] She also performed at the Lollapalooza festival and Lilith Fair during the 2010 summer, along with special guest appearances at Maxwell's concerts at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia on June 11 and at Madison Square Garden in New York City on June 26, 2010.[26]

Reception[edit]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 110,000 copies in its first week.[27] It also entered at number two on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[27] In its second week, the album fell to number nine on the Billboard 200, selling an additional 30,000 copies.[28] The album fell to number 20 and sold 19,000 copies in its third week.[29] In the United Kingdom, New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) debuted at number 56 on the UK Albums Chart and at number nine on the R&B Albums Chart.[30][31] In Canada, the album debuted at number 36 on the Top 100 and at number five on the R&B Top 50 chart.[32][33] New Amerykah Part Two achieved moderate chart success in international markets, peaking within the top-50 in several countries, including Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Sweden, and Denmark.[30]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[3]
The A.V. Club (A-)[5]
Entertainment Weekly (A-)[34]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[35]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/4 stars[36]
Pitchfork Media (8.0/10)[37]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[38]
Slant Magazine 4/5 stars[39]
Spin (8/10)[40]
Tiny Mix Tapes 4.5/5 stars[41]

New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) received general acclaim from music critics.[42] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 83, based on 25 reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim".[42] Most critics commended its soulful sound and loose structure, while viewing its music as inventive and more accessible than that of its predecessor.[43] Allmusic editor Andy Kellman wrote that "the album is so rich with sample-reliant songs that it sometimes resembles a glorified mixtape".[3] In comparison to its predecessor, Kellman described the album as "more personal than planetary, less challenging sonically and lyrically".[3] Entertainment Weekly's Simon Vozick-Levinson complimented its "organic" sound, writing that its "comfortable style [...] makes it that much easier to get pleasantly lost in".[34] Glenn Gamboa of Newsday commented that "it's a distinctly smaller scale, but one she handles much more effectively".[44] The A.V. Club's Michaelangelo Matos described the album as "smoother than anything since her 1997 debut, Baduizm".[5] Ed Potton of The Times gave it four out of five stars and called it "slinky, at times raw and eccentric, and built [...] on a foundation of lurve".[45] Embling of Tiny Mix Tapes gave it four-and-a-half out of five stars and wrote that it "combines her trademark psychedelia with disarming emotional candor".[41] The Washington Post's Chris Richards found Badu's performance complimentary to its "dreamy, elliptical" style.[46] Dan Weiss of Crawdaddy! called it "Badu’s most life-imitating album yet".[47]

However, some critics regarded its songwriting as overly vague and deemed the album less adventurous than its predecessor.[43] Jon Pareles of The New York Times noted that "atmosphere easily upstages the words".[48] New York Daily News writer Jim Farber commented that its songs "develop horizontally, rather than vertically, letting funky bass lines meander on well before a melody arrives".[49] Rolling Stone's Jody Rosen found its "hazy texture" and songwriting sketchy.[38] Kitty Empire of The Observer commented that it "turns its skewed sights on love in both soppy and calculating fashion".[50] Richard Beck of Barnes & Noble commended its groove-based compositions, writing that it "doesn't have songs [...] it has grooves with vocals, in four minute chunks. This would be a problem if the grooves weren’t so good".[51] Chicago Tribune writer Greg Kot gave it three out of four stars and called Badu "a mistress of vibe and feel rather than strictly formatted songcraft".[52] Slant Magazine's Eric Henderson praised its "freeform" style and compared her songwriting approach to that of Marvin Gaye, stating "Gaye would usually feel out his melodies first and then come up with lyrics to fit into those lines. The result for both Gaye and Badu is R&B impressionism".[39] Sputnikmusic's Nick Butler wrote that it "rewards patience and time [...] because underneath the new smoother exterior lies a batch of songs that are surprisingly loose and free".[53]

Pitchfork Media's Mike Powell called the album "a coherent expression of a big, scattered personality" and praised Badu's expressive performance, writing that "her ability to toe the line between sounding effortless and sounding tossed-off is remarkable".[37] Ken Capobianco of The Boston Globe called her a "terrific formalist".[54] Boston Herald writer Lauren Carter gave the album an A rating and found Badu's "free-flowing approach and quirky-cool vibe" refreshing from other popular music.[55] Steve Jones of USA Today stated "The moody, soulful ambience complements Badu's insightful lyrics and mesmerizing vocals".[56] Quentin B. Huff of PopMatters found the album on-par with its predecessor, in terms of thematic detail, but called it "a smoother, more delicate and accessible affair".[57] Sean Fennessey of Spin called the album "earthbound and elemental [...] Badu's version of lover's rock", noting Badu as "often plainspoken and unguarded".[40] Andy Gill of The Independent's found its musical settings "varied" and called its music "superior seductive R&B which doesn't insult your intelligence while still turning your head".[58] BBC Online's Stevie Chick compared the album to Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life and Badu's melodies to those of Marvin Gaye.[59] Los Angeles Times writer Margaret Wappler described the album as "a velvety, but still appealingly odd, exploration".[36] Seth Colter Walls of Newsweek called it "the R&B album of the moment that actually has a hint of timelessness about it".[60]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "20 Feet Tall"   Badu, Douthit, Wimbish Erykah Badu, 9th Wonder 3:25
2. "Window Seat"   Badu, Poyser Erykah Badu, James Poyser 4:50
3. "Agitation"   Badu, Husayn, Sancious Erykah Badu, Shafiq Husayn of SA-RA Creative Partners 1:33
4. "Turn Me Away (Get MuNNY)"   Ayers, Badu, Striplin Erykah Badu, Karriem Riggins 5:26
5. "Gone Baby, Don't Be Long"   Badu, Husayn, McCartney Erykah Badu, Ta'Raach 4:39
6. "Umm Hmm"   Badu, Jackson Erykah Badu, Madlib 3:45
7. "Love"   Badu, Yancey Erykah Badu, J Dilla 6:02
8. "You Loving Me (Session)"   Badu, Benzworth Erykah Badu 1:04
9. "Fall in Love (Your Funeral)"   Badu, Glenn, Riggins Erykah Badu, Karriem Riggins 6:06
10. "Incense" (featuring Kirsten Agnesta) Badu, Jackson Erykah Badu, Madlib 3:27
11. "Out My Mind, Just in Time"   Badu, Muldrow, Poyser Erykah Badu, Georgia Anne Muldrow 10:21

Personnel[edit]

Credits for New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) adapted from liner notes.[61]

# Title Notes
New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)

Executive production: Erykah Badu, Mike "Chav" Chavarria
Art direction: Erykah Badu, Kyledidthis
Design: Erykah Badu
Project management and marketing: Paul Levatino (for Badu World), Xavier Jernigan (for Universal Motown)
A&R: Edward Richardson Universal Motown
Mixing: Tim Soares, Chris Bell
Illustrations: EMEK Studios (Emek & Gan)
Typography inspiration: Alfredo Gray

1 "20 Feet Tall"

Produced by Erykah Badu and 9th Wonder
James Poyser (keys), Mike Chav (Synthesizer)
Embodies portions of "My Darling Baby" by Wood Brass & Steel

2 "Window Seat"

Produced by Erykah Badu and James Poyser

3 "Agitation"

Produced by Erykah Badu and Shafiq Husayn of SA-RA Creative Partners
Contains a sample of "Just As I Thought" by David Sancious

4 "Turn Me Away (Get MuNNY)"

Produced by Erykah Badu and Karriem Riggins
Karriem Riggins (drums), Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner (bass), James Poyser (keys),
Tommy Trajlio (guitar), Mike "Chav" Chavarria (mooger fooger)
Contains an interpolation of "You Can't Turn Me Away", by Sylvia Striplin

5 "Gone Baby, Don't Be Long"

Produced by Erykah Badu and Ta'Raach
Jeff Lee Johnson (Guitar)
Contains a sample of "Arrow Through Me" by Wings

6 "Umm Hmm"

Produced by Erykah Badu and Madlib
Contains a sample of "Take Some Time" by Ndugu & The Chocolate Jam Co.

7 "Love"

Produced by Erykah Badu and J Dilla
Mike Chav (Synthesizer), Pilar Cote (Intro Voices)
Contains a portion of "Take Me" by Fabulous Souls

8 "You Loving Me (Session)"

Produced by Erykah Badu

9 "Fall in Love (Your Funeral)"

Produced by Erykah Badu and Karriem Riggins
Contains a sample of "Intimate Friends" by Eddie Kendricks

10 "Incense"

Produced by Erykah Badu and Madlib
Kirsten Agnesta (harp), Mike Chav(synthesizer)

11 "Out My Mind, Just in Time"

Part 1: Produced by Erykah Badu
James Poyser (keys)
Part 2 & 3: Produced by Erykah Badu and Georgia Anne Muldrow[62]

Georgia Anne Muldrow (Multi-Instruments)

* "Jump Up in the Air (Stay There)"

Produced by Erykah Badu, RC Williams and Jahborn
Lil Wayne (rap), Bilal (vocals)
Contains an interpolation of "Hydraulic Pump" by The P-Funk All-Stars

Chart history[edit]

Chart (2010) Peak
position
Austrian Albums Chart[30] 36
Canadian Albums Chart[32] 36
Dutch Albums Chart[30] 66
Danish Albums Chart[30] 35
European Albums Chart[63] 61
French Albums Chart[30] 77
Japanese Albums Chart[64] 38
Norwegian Albums Chart[30] 14
Polish Albums Chart[30] 15
Swedish Albums Chart[30] 21
Swiss Albums Chart[30] 18
UK Albums Chart[30] 56
UK R&B Chart[31] 9
US Billboard 200[27] 4
US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[27] 2

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2010) Position
US Billboard 200 119[65]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Staff (December 16, 2010). "Staff Lists: The Top 50 Albums of 2010". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  2. ^ http://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/9465-the-top-100-albums-of-2010-2014/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d Kellman, Andy. Review: New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh). Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-03-27.
  4. ^ a b c Mariel Concepcion (December 10, 2009). "Erykah Badu Unveils 'New Amerykah, Part II'". Billboard. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c Matos, Michaelangelo. Erykah Badu: Soul Diva Scales Back. Paste. Retrieved on 2010-03-28.
  6. ^ Ganz, Caryn. Erykah Badu on Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige, and Being a Twitter Goddess. New York. Retrieved on 2010-03-30.
  7. ^ Staff. Spring Music Preview 2010. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2010-04-05.
  8. ^ Hauk, Hunter. Erykah Badu talks 'New Amerykah Part Two'. QuickDFW. Retrieved on 2010-03-31.
  9. ^ Pete Freedman (January 20, 2010). "Erykah Badu Formally Announces New Amerykah, Pt. II Details". Dallas Observer. Retrieved January 21, 2010. 
  10. ^ Product Page: New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh). CDJapan. Retrieved on 2010-03-31.
  11. ^ Staff. Are You Feeling This Get Up?. Bossip. Retrieved on 2010-03-31.
  12. ^ a b Speeakz. Visual Artist Emek Talks About The Process Behind Erykah Badu’s New Album Artwork. Pinboard. Retrieved on 2010-03-31.
  13. ^ ERYKAH BADU TO RELEASE NEW AMERYKAH, PART II: RETURN OF THE ANKH IN FEBRUARY 2010. Hip Hop Press. Retrieved on 2010-03-31.
  14. ^ a b Press release. ERYKAH BADU’s New Album, NEW AMERYKAH PART TWO: RETURN OF THE ANKH, in Stores Today. Business Wire. Retrieved on 2010-03-31.
  15. ^ a b Kennedy, Gerrick D. Live review: Erykah Badu's surprise midnight show at the El Rey. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2010-03-31.
  16. ^ Sarah Crisman (January 13, 2010). "Grammy-nominee RC Williams influences music industry at large, calls Dallas home". Pegasus News. Retrieved January 21, 2010. 
  17. ^ Official Erykah Badu Website. ErykahBadu.com. Archived on 2010-03-27.
  18. ^ Nero, Mark Edward. Erykah Badu Says "Jump Up in the Air (Stay There)". About.com. Retrieved on 2010-03-31.
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  24. ^ Press release. Erykah Badu Reschedules 2010 Out My Mind, Just in Time U.S. Tour Dates. Universal Motown Records. Retrieved on 2010-05-10.
  25. ^ Erykah Badu :: Out My Mind, Just in Time Tour 2010 AD. www.erykahbadu.com. Retrieved on 2010-05-10.
  26. ^ a b Concepcion, Mariel. Erykah Badu Announces Tour. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-04-20.
  27. ^ a b c d Caulfield, Keith. Usher Scores Third Straight No. 1 On Billboard 200. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-04-07.
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  33. ^ "R&B: Top 50 - For the Week Ending 4 April 2010". Jam!. Archived on 2010-04-10.
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  36. ^ a b Wappler, Margaret. Review: New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh). Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2010-03-30.
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  38. ^ a b Rosen, Jody. Review: New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) at the Wayback Machine (archived May 28, 2010). Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2010-03-30.
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  40. ^ a b Fennessey, Sean (April 2010). Erykah Badu, 'New AmErykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh' (Universal Motown) | SPIN.com. Spin. Retrieved on 2011-03-14.
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  43. ^ a b Dietz, Jason. "March’s Best New Music". Metacritic: March 31, 2010. Archived on 2010-04-01.
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  46. ^ Richards, Chris. Review: New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh). The Washington Post. Retrieved on 2010-03-30.
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  51. ^ Beck, Richard. Review: New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh). Barnes & Noble. Retrieved on 2010-04-17.
  52. ^ Kot, Greg. Review: New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh). Chicago Tribune. Retrieved on 2010-04-15.
  53. ^ Butler, Nick. Review: New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh). Sputnikmusic. Retrieved on 2010-03-29.
  54. ^ Capobianco, Ken. Review: New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh). The Boston Globe. Retrieved on 2010-05-05.
  55. ^ Carter, Lauren. Review: New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh). Boston Herald. Retrieved on 2010-03-29.
  56. ^ Jones, Steve. Review: New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh). USA Today. Retrieved on 2010-03-30.
  57. ^ Huff, Quentin B. Review: New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh). PopMatters. Retrieved on 2010-03-30.
  58. ^ Gill, Andy. Review: New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh). The Independent. Retrieved on 2010-03-27.
  59. ^ Chick, Stevie. Review: New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh). BBC Online. Retrieved on 2010-03-30.
  60. ^ Walls, Seth Colter. Review: New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh). Newsweek. Retrieved on 2010-03-27.
  61. ^ Track listing and credits as per liner notes for New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) album
  62. ^ Keith Murphy (December 10, 2009). "Sneak Peek: Erykah Badu's New Amerykah, Part II (Return of the Ankh)". Vibe. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  63. ^ Chart History: Erykah Badu - European Albums Chart. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-04-25.
  64. ^ ニュー・アメリカ パート・ツー(リターン・オブ・ザ・アンク) エリカ・バドゥのプロフィールならオリコン芸能人事典-ORICON STYLE
  65. ^ "Best of 2010 - Billboard Top 200". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 

External links[edit]