EMEK has returned to do the artwork for Erykah Badu‘s return, Part 2 of the trilogy that she has promised. This new album is called New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh (MotownUniversal) and true to her nature, she has been hard at work on this album weeks before its deadline. She has been hyping up the fact that the new album would be released on 3/3/3, perhaps a slightly vinyl-centric way to say March 30, 2010 (because 2+0+1+0 = 3) or she’s revealing a bit of mathematics.
A few songs have already been heard through television appearances and gentle leaks of a song or two. As for the production and presentation of the album, we know Madlib is definitely involved. A track listing has been revealed, but little else. Gentle trickles again. I do know that Badu herself, through her Twitter account, did something most would have thought was once impossible: she wanted to release a song with a Paul McCartney sample and asked her close friends and associates to hook her up with the right people to speak to. One thing lead to another, and in about nine hours (perhaps the power of this 3+3+3 thing), the sample was approved. While I have not heard the Badu song in question, the sample that she seeked was Wings‘ “Arrow Through Me” from the 1979 album Back To The Egg. No word if it is an actual sample or an interpolation, but as soon as I know, I’ll let you know. While Beatles samples are (for now) off-limits, McCartney has always been open to experimentation in his own music for the last 45 years. In recent years he has opened his solo catalog to advertisers, so perhaps he’s opening the door for artists to legally sample his work. Emphasis is on “legally” since his songs have been “cleverly” borrowed a number of times over the years.
Back to the album cover. I look at it this way, concerning her trilogy:
Part 1: winter album, cover shows mind with clutter. Darkness surrounds.
Part 2: spring, flowers blooming, a reawakening. Vivid purples, as if the sun is about to rise.
Part 3: 2012, she’ll release this in late August/early September. Sunrise, a la Roy Ayers‘ “Everybody Loves The Sunshine”, with “bees and things and flowers”? Her music is reflective of her “life”, and Badu has referred to the words “my life” in songs such as “My Life” and “Love Of My Life”, so a bit of continuity would not be unlike her at all.
Maybe it will wrap up this New Amerykah she speaks of, either that or she has already planned this out from the start. While the paranoia of 2012 lurks for some, many are looking to the year as a means of a reawakening, be it personal, spiritual, mental, social, political, everything. It’s not the end as hyped, it’s a metaphorical end to the old ways, and the need to not fear a new way.
It will also tie in with the 2012 elections, which raises the question on whether or not President Barack Obama will have another four years. Is the idea of a “new America” already in progress? Everyone wants quick and easy, maybe Obama is doing things kama sutra style: it may be at a methodical pace that seems twice as long, but the end result will be much more joyous. Is this the hope?
So, will this new album feature a Gravediggaz sample, honoring the dead and those who will forever dig, with the use of Prince Paul saying “1, 2 (1, 2) 1, 2 (1, 2)… you ready? (you ready?) from “Mommy What’s A Gravedigga?”
Significance? Some say the end of the world will be on December 21, 2012. That’s 12/21/12, that “one, two”, “one, two”, and Badu will be giving the world a mic check. Could she steer it in that direction? For all I know, New Amerykah Part 3 could be a folky album, Odetta style. Wouldn’t that freak people out?
Only time, and Badu, will tell.