New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh
After dedicating her last album to the polarized weirdness that is America in the 21st century, Erykah Badu's focus on Part II circles back in on itself -- or perhaps, on herself. The music is still mildly hallucinatory -- "20 Feet Tall" puts us in some kind of altered, emotional Wonderland -- but the drug-addled effects are dialed down in favor of a return to jazzy neo-soul. And if the personal is political, then it's still a political album, but the soldiers in Iraq get no shout-outs here. Love -- joke-love, money-love, real love -- occupies these approachable and sometimes brilliant songs.