While I was away on Rhode Island, Ant attended an Erykah Badu listening party with my Morehouse brother Michael K. Watts (“Live! From Front Row” - http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/2/12/luv.html and http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/8/5/funky-divas-dusted-dusty-and-dusted-off.html). It inspired him to BLOG (http://www.myspace.com/kingzeye). He graciously agreed to let me re-purpose his testimonial here in “A Day in the Life of Riley: Pop Culture & Possibilities”. Thanks Ant:
Although I didn't get a photo with Erykah Badu, I’m so glad to have shared last night’s lunar eclipse with her at the listening party for her long awaited new album! It’s been three years since she dropped one of my favorite CD’s, "World Wide Underground". I am so excited to report that she is still full of light, love, music, beauty, wisdom, passion and funk. As a matter of fact she said it best herself her, “cup runneth over.” She carefully selected 10 tracks out of 50 to create part 1 of, “New Amerykah: World War 4,” in stores Savior’s Day, Feb. 26th.
The first time I heard tracks from this album was actually a few weeks ago as talent on the set of her photo shoot for the April issue of Essence Magazine. I know I told many of you to look out for the March issue, but it seems that this layout is set to hit stands in March for the April issue, just in time for my birthday! Erykah was so connected she actually remembered me from the photo shoot as one of her, “security guards.”
Now back to the album and the event itself. It was truly a metaphysical experience. Held at the breath taking, Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (www.cosm.org), the album’s release party was a pure celebration of art and celestial blessings. It’s a beautiful art museum and gallery home to the practice of spirituality, celestial gatherings, and the celebration of art. Resident artist Alex Gray is a former Dr. who not only mastered the science of the human body; he has taken metaphysical art to a whole new level. His large scale, human size paintings explore the inner and outer workings of the divine human experience. I can’t wait to go back for an adult life drawing workshop in March.
Throughout the night I was inspired by several different artists making it a collective experience. The presentation was phenomenal, although some press argued it took away from the album itself. In my opinion all of the showcased work enhanced my experience because it all played perfectly to the vibe of "New Amerykah". One of the ways in which she included other forms of art is by playing images from Francis Ford Coppola’s 1982 art film, “ Koyaanisqatsi ,” (http://www.youtube.com/v/hwYFxCnc9fg&rel=1)
I was surprised just how well the cinematic images in this film complemented songs from New Amerykah, the same way in which Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Rainbow,” can be synched up to the title sequence of the Wizard of Oz and played throughout movie.
This album delivers both musically and conceptually, its ART people - the total package, or at least half of it and then some. It’s the first half of a two disc series, plus all 10 tracks feature original artwork by an artist named Emek to whom she introduced to many of us through Myspace. I truly admire his “expressidelic funkanistic,” style. He is truly gifted and best known for his signature rock and roll posters. Erykah actually commissioned original pieces for each track on the album! The second half of this project, “New Amerykah Pt.2: Return of the Ankh,” will officially debut 10 months from now which symbolizes the project's completion. That's the same day as Janet Jackson’s Discipline, whose listening party is one that I will go back and blog about now that I am finally blogging.
The last song on the album is dedicated to the one and only J. Dilla, one of hip hop’s most beloved angels, “Telephone.” This track was actually recorded and completed the night he passed. In a conversation with J. Dilla’s mother, Erykah was told that Dilla was greeted by O.D.B. briefly before passing who told him specifically that , “a white bus would be waiting to pick him up once he passed through the light, although there would be an inviting red bus parked next to it.” O.D.B. further stressed that “Whatever you do (Dilla) get on the white bus.” How’s that for a huge example of the cosmic level of energy, spirituality and love present that night.
2008 is going to be huge for Erykah. In addition to New Amerykah she has several other projects coming down the pipe line, including more possible CD this year alone, not to mention a quarterly magazine called, “Freque” which she describes as a more feminine version of, “Wax Poetic.”
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