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Erykah Badu

New Amerykah Part One, 4th World War (Motown)

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Erykah Badu may be hard on her country, but she's not exactly Chuck D. Ever forgiving, she promises to love it "tooth for tooth and eye for eye" — no matter which electorate boob sucked it dry. On her first album in seven years, Badu languidly threatens, "Come out with your skills up!" That line comes from "The Healer," in which she recruits glassy beats and droll handclaps — along with various scientists and rappers — to fix her broken U.S.A. The concept is attractively Obama-esque — not just because Badu refuses to attack, but because the music is such a pleasant mishmash of steamed jazz and space-soul, you can imagine the young Barack inhaling to it. Still, New Amerykah might be too sparse and weird for old America. But even if there's nothing new to extract from Badu's rehashed uplift-speak ("Hold on my people"), at least her last seven years were more productive than Bush's

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