The cyborg and the sistah

By CHARLES TAYLOR  |  March 17, 2008

New AmErykah isn’t Riot (nothing ever will be), but we shouldn’t have to demand that an artist be at the brink of destruction, as Sly Stone was, in order to produce a credible statement. And the variety and the invention of the music here (hip-hop avant-gardist Madlib was one of the producers), the way Badu draws you into its corners as well as its plateaus just by crooking her finger, make you want to keep listening. The stylistic mishmash is the point. This is someone who wants to be Angela Davis, Pam Grier, and Marvin Gaye. The ideological mishmash produces the record’s best lines, in which Badu is both civil-rights activist and World War II general: “We gone keep marchin’ on/Till we hear that freedom song/And if you think about turnin’ back/I got the shotgun on ya’ back.” March or die.

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  Topics: Music Features , Marvin Gaye, Racial Issues, Social Issues,  More more >
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