Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Outsideleft: Mother Earth is Pregnant for the Fourth Time

Erykah Badu
New Amerykah Part One (4thWorld)
(Universal Motown)

Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time, for y’all have done knocked her up
I have eaten the maggots of the mind of the universe.
I was not offended
For I knew I had to rise above it all or drown in my own shit

Funkadelic “Maggot Brain,” 1971
I’ve always wanted to witness a classroom of white third graders, twitchy and earnest, hand on heart before the flag in the morning reciting the opening oath from “Maggot Brain” instead of the Pledge of Allegiance. When I discovered funk’s transformative power one day, when P-Funk Earth Tour entered my, up to that point, ironic hipster 8-track collection, I saw that the declarations, the thud, the silliness, the hyperkinetic everything-at-once collapse that makes up a great R&B record are the only way to really survive this world. Things seem stupid? Get stupider. Too much hassle? Get hustlin’. Too controlled? Pilot your own damn spaceship then.

Mother Earth is showing signs of a fourth pregnancy on Erykah Badu’s soul-heavy new record new Amerykah Part One (4th World). “Amerykan Promise” opens with a blaxploitation trailer blurb …more action, more excitement, more everything… which nails this record. The track is a sidewalk boogie shuffle densely packed with every single George Clinton cliché in the book: an announcer jive-talking throughout, that swing low chorus, the horns. It’s on. At one point she deadpans, oh look, freedom’s here, nailing the rage against disenfranchisement that funk can do better than anything, even hip-hop. Read more...

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