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Erykah Badu talks the free-form hip-hop that is New Amerykah Part II

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    It’s a tough world out there for sequel albums. Sure, Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter series got progressively better, but even Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell II couldn’t recapture the magic of the first go around. For Erykah Badu, the six-year journey to the sequel to her New Amerykah Part I: 4th World War has been an especially hectic one, especially since this album has been in progress since before the release of 2003’s Worldwide Underground. But if the content she spoke of with Billboard is any indicator, expect something wholly undefinable and potentially chart-topping.

    As she nears 40, Badu said she is “more free and full of life” than ever before. And while last time New Amerykah was all about socio-political commentary, New Amerykah, Part II: Return of the Ankh is another side of the ever-changing Badu.

    “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,” Badu said recently at a listening session at New York City’s Chung King Studios. “‘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.”

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    On top of banjos, harps and lots of slow, elegant keys, Badu will channel the rhymes and energy of Notroious B.I.G. The song “Incense” features her harmonizing the Biggie line, “there’s gonna be a lot of slow singing and flower bringing if my burglar alarm starts ringing”. And with collaborators like producer 9th Wonder and guests including ?uestlove and James Poyser, Badu will continue to rip it up on the mic, including the line from “Fall In Love”: “You’re loving me and I’m driving your Benz / you’re loving me and I’m fucking your friends”.

    But one of the more auspicious tracks on the album is the track “Jump In The Air”. The track will feature nine MCs in all, including Lil Wayne and her son Seven’s father, Outkast’s Andre 3000. Badu made it clear, however, that since parts of the track leaked last week, it may not make it onto the album. And any other tracks that make their way online can likely expect the same fate.

    “If anything leaks, I won’t put out this album,” she said about potential future leaks. “I worked too hard for that to happen. Let a bitch make some money some kind of way.”

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    Badu has recorded 50 songs in all for the album and also plans to release a completed LP entitled Low Down shortly after the release of Part II. The album is expected for release on February 23rd, 2010. Tracklist follows. As revealed last week, she’ll be supporting the release by taking part in this summer’s Lilith Fair.

    New Amerykah, Part II: Return of the Ankh Tracklist:
    01. 20 Feet Tall
    02. Window Seat
    03. Agitation
    04. Get Money
    05. Don’t Be Long
    06. Love
    07. Umm Hmm
    08. Fall in Love
    09. Incense
    10. Out My Mind Just in Time (Part 1) (Undercover Over-Lover)
    11. Out My Mind Just in Time (Part 2)

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