Erykah Badu has released the cover art for her forthcoming album "New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh," the follow-up to 2008's layered, darkly funky "4th World War." It's a brighter, warmer image than the almost apocalyptic one that accompanied its predecessor. Who knows if that hints at lighter, softer sounds.
We do know that Madlib, the brilliantly bent rapper-producer, is involved again, meaning the record promises to be as weirdly jazzy and soulfully uncompromising as her last. We also know that Badu generated some buzz last month when she dramatically took to Twitter in a frantic 11th-hour attempt to clear a Paul McCartney sample. "If I can talk to PAUL MCCARTNEY I can get the sample cleared .. have less than 24 hours or song wont make album . help . it will happen!!" she tweeted. Then, the next day, "Paul McCartney approved the sample. Cleared!!!"
But that's about all we know.
Incidentally, unless I'm off my meds, the press release that accompanies the image appears to hint at a bit of numerology. The release date is listed as: "on 3.30 2010 AD (((333)))." Sure, 3+3+0+2+0+1+0 adds up to — or at least is another way of writing — 333. But what does it mean? Perhaps a nod to vinyl heads (spinning at 33 1/3)? Any other ideas? And here's the surprisingly groovy Wings song she apparently wanted to sample, "Arrow Through Me." No surprise as to what appealed to her here: — Brian Braiker