New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War)

  • Record Label: Motown
  • Release Date: Feb 26, 2008
Metascore
83

Universal acclaim - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Immediately moving and yet rather bewildering, New Amerykah, Pt. 1 is an album that sounds special from the first play, yet it will probably take years before it is known just how special it is.
  2. While the LP is smart and funky as hell, it distinguishes itself because it's part of a series.
  3. Big tracks aside, it's an awfully static record, which gives it the kind of high-art "difficulty" that we critics have been known to like.
  4. Uncut
    80
    She's far bolder, singing in a strange, little girl's voice over a solitary Chet Baker-style trumpet or chanting mantra-like over a bubbling African rhythm. [May 2008, p.87]
  5. Mojo
    80
    NuAmerykah is her boldest and best yet, brilliantly eccentric but repaying every indulgence. [May 2008, p.106]
  6. It's a challenging, even frustrating listen, but Amerykah stakes out Badu's place between vinyl crackle and tape hiss among things to be fond of, no matter how outmoded they become.
  7. Each listen to New Amerykah brings fresh rewards: it demands to be explored.
  8. 'Honey's' squiggly bass line and cute but inane sentiments (''Honey, you so sweet/Sugar got a long way to catch you'') are perhaps the safest, least interesting efforts on the album. Thankfully, Badu spent 10 other tracks showing us exactly what she can do.
  9. What is most impressive about New Amerykah is that Erykah simply breathes life into these tracks.
  10. Badu's spare, pointillist lyrics are almost constantly folded deep within dense, heavy arrangements
  11. From the wild, ominous hard-bop of 'The Cell' to space-age chaos of 'Twinkle' to shimmying, shimmering 'Me,' there's never a dull moment--but more than a few bewildering ones.
  12. Nearly 1700 words and I still feel like this record's left me speechless. That's an epiphany to cherish.
  13. It stands to reason that there should be another album's worth of this material, which flickers back and forth between different kinds of sessions and ideas, some quite elegant, some deeply boring, none of it very well edited.
  14. Badu's brave New Amerykah is a liberated land, a wild embrace of experimentation, and a gleeful if occasionally paranoid freak-fest.
  15. Curtis Mayfield would be proud of both lyrics and her throwback sound.
  16. New Amerykah Part One: 4th World War is an insane, obscure and exciting record of the kind that very few artists have the guts or imagination to make anymore.
  17. New Amerykah reveals its considerable depths and strengths, and invites the listener to invest the time needed to explore them.
  18. The result is a collection of demanding, disquieting and beautiful urban hymns that reveal their rewards on repeated listenings.
  19. The Wire
    80
    The closing 'Honey' leaves all the issues behind and drips with the kind of sultry retro-funk that proves New Amerykah to have been well worth any amount of waiting. [May 2008, p.70]
  20. New Amerykah seems adherent to the old "cohesive studio album" mold of the soul/neo-soul eras.
  21. In short, it is one of the best albums of the year, and could be one of the best albums of the decade.
  22. While Britain and the US are succumbing to a very retro take on the US's R&B heritage, the original queen of neo-soul has taken a giant leap forward.
  23. Badu has rejected the role of soul princess and chosen instead to embrace a raw, unhinged spirituality that separates her from the pack.

Awards & Rankings

User Score
8.6

Universal acclaim- based on 48 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 18
  2. Negative: 2 out of 18
  1. Oct 3, 2011
    6
    Erykah Badu is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious R&B singers ever. New Amerykah is her delicious two-part concept album about modernErykah Badu is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious R&B singers ever. New Amerykah is her delicious two-part concept album about modern American society. Both perceptive and insular, 4th World War means deep lyrics wrapped in fresh (even after three years after its release) beats. Amerykahn Promise kicks off like a lost blaxploitation film trailer and offers simply more everything. Me sounds like a Flying Lotus-produced track. The best thing here is probably The Healer in which Badu shows those glittering babies how you do it. Full Review »
  2. ClifC.
    Jul 9, 2009
    9
    Excellent, really! One of the best albums of 2008. The beats are amazing and she keeps being cool and keeps sounding fresh. I'm Excellent, really! One of the best albums of 2008. The beats are amazing and she keeps being cool and keeps sounding fresh. I'm desperate to hear the follow up, "New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)". She's one of the greatest Hip Hop female artists, with M.I.A. It's as simple as that. Full Review »
  3. CinthD.
    Jun 12, 2009
    10
    At first listen, the album might sound overproduced, distasteful and totally out of Erykah's range. An honest advice, try listening to At first listen, the album might sound overproduced, distasteful and totally out of Erykah's range. An honest advice, try listening to album several times and surely you will realize this is a masterpiece and that Erykah has done it again. Every track is worth exploring and suits this album. Furthermore, the album got the universal acclaim with reason. Full Review »