Erykah Badu’s “Twinkle”

There was much buzz about Erykah Badu’s new release “New AmErykah: World War Part 4.” I heard the first release Honey on 95.5 WPGC and wondered if Erykah had rolled over in bed and coughed a song into the mic. The song sounds lazy and underdeveloped. Good enough for the radio, but not good enough for her talents or her fans. Convinced the rest of “New AmErykah” would be the same, I passed on buying it. Later, I found my suspicions were only 90 percent accurate.

My little brother, (disclaimer: a rabid fan of Pretty Ricky), bought “New AmErykah” and told me it was garbage. So I figured if she could not satisfy his radio pop ears, then why bother. But on a night he picked me up from the train he had the track “Twinkle” blazing from the car. And I was feeling it, fierce. The percussions are rocking and Badu’s sweet and testifying voice is spitting truth. I’m bobbing my head and thinking I need to check myself. Four minutes into the song, I realize Erykah did not roll out of the bed and cough something into the mic. But instead Erykah and her circle of Badus got up and decided to put an “art project” on a CD. At four minutes into the song a man starts speaking in an ancient African/Egyptian dialect followed by an angry rant from some dude named Saul. “Uh-oh,” I thought. “Who does Erykah be hanging around these days?”

The next track, Master Teacher, is more consciousness. Yes Erykah I’d rather there be Master Teachers instead of N*ggas. But can you be a bit more creative with how you deliver your message. After listening to King Tut and Saul’s diatribe, I need a break and this is a drag. Yet the bottom half of Master Teacher, at 3 minutes and 30 seconds into the song, the vibe changes. And it is a beautiful and relaxing change. Badu sings about her baby girl, about lovers, about church, about life, about staying awake! This is an awareness that does not beat me over the head and allows me to walk into work without a complex or attitude.

The rest of “New AmErykah” does not sound new at all, save for the track Cell that also has a higher-learning message and is compositionally a classic Badu cut, yet at the end the hook is repeated acapella ad nauseam. The CD feels like an exercise in group self-catharsis. And I wasn’t invited.

“New AmErykah” is isolating and distant. Out of eleven tracks only three cast a glimmer on Badu’s stellar talent. “New AmErykah: Part Two” is coming out later this year. Lets hope she has gotten up out of the bed and shaken off the stardust to shine.

0 responses to “Erykah Badu’s “Twinkle””

  1. Hmm this is interesting. Badu is a awesome stage artist. I must admit I haven’t been following her latest musical efforts but I’m gonna give it a listen. Let see if the media push is backed up by awesome studio artistry.

  2. don’t agree w/ this review at all. The beauty of Erykah is that she always changes up styles on each CD so as to not allow herself to get pigeon-holed into being just a ‘head wrap’ queen.

    this cd was clearly her dedication to hip-hop and I found it quite entertaining that she could make a better hip-hop CD than most of the so-called hip-hop artists of today. Hip-Hop is mot just about rhyming but more attitude and expression which she has in full.

    Plus I caught her @ Radio City Music Hall for her latest tour, and she rocked it from beginning to end doing nearly every cut on the CD.

    If the revolution were to go down today, this album would be the soundtrack


  3. i wasn’t that impressed with the album either. i guess i expect more from her b/c she is such a great artist. i just wasn’t feeling this one. i, too, hope the follow up will be better.

  4. hmmm?? I don’t know, I thought this effort was pretty solid, myself.

    11 tracks is a good # for a CD – short & sweet

    The Healer, Me, Soldier, Twinkle, Master Teacher, and That Hump are all winners

    Telephone is a beautiful dedication to J-Dilla (RIP)

    Honey was better than everything that was on the radio when it dropped

    too bad some of you didn’t enjoy it.

  5. Ok, you have offended all of us Grambling alumni. I was friends with Erykah in school and she was “different” to say the least. But, that is why we love her b/c she brings a different voice. As with all her music, you have to listen. There are some weird tracks, but there are some jamming ones too. Some of them begin akward, but end with you bobbing your head.

    I love “ME” b/c I feel as if she was in my head. “This year I turned 36/damn it seemed it came so quick/My ass and legs have gotten thick/But its just ME!”
    Love it man.

    Talk to Bob (marley) and then take another listen!

  6. Look man Erykah is a Grambling Alumnus and I’m sure that there is someplace that your negative review of her music can be appreciated but Tigeroundup is not the forum to bash any Gramlinite personal or profesional…. No one asked you… I think that most Gramblinites would agree with me… watch your mouth about Grambling folks!

  7. Oh boy! This is a forum for ALL of the RoundUps. I’d hope you want the best out of your Grambling alumnus and not just give a wholesale nod to whatever yall do or put out. As I endorse, support and work towards the best of my Bison. But honestly I did not even know the lady was from y’alls school. Not that it would matter. Not bashing Erykah Badu. I know what she is all about. She is AWESOME. That is why I’m so disappointed in her latest efforts which to me seem like a first draft of thoughts (the stuff you doodle in the margins) instead of a final symphony of greatness.

  8. Yes, as you can see, Jazz and I were offended. But, take another listen to Erykah. I didn’t really like the first listen either. But, you have to get past some of the off the cuff beginnings and listen to the message. She is the truth!

    And yeah, we take offense when one of us is not respected.

    We bleed black and gold!
    Now, if you say something bad about Eddie Rob, expect a throwdown cuz we will be coming for you!

  9. Uh oh. I understand. Again, it was not against Grambling or Erykah, but the fact I am not feeling this new CD. Thats all. I’ve listened to it about 20 times now and I get more and more upset each time I hear it. Maybe, on top of that, it has to do with a lackluster performance she had recently too. I’m open to hearing Part Two, in hopes Erykah will come with it like I know she can.

    And I dont even know who Eddi Rob is….

  10. At first listen, I hated the album and thought Erykah had lost her mind. Noiw, I can’t stop listening to it. I usually rock the whole album on a daily basis. Also, Detroit was the first stop for her New AmErykah tour. I was there, and she rocked!

  11. Yeah my lil bro hated it and now is rocking it and that is how I was put on to it. But like I said I’m not feeling the whole thing… just pieces. And I feel like she is holding her breath, like the quiet before the storm… I’m yelling “Come on Erykah bring it!” But I guess I got to wait until Part 2. Or not. Dont have to like it always to be an admirer. Will keep my ear out for Badu all the time. This time I’m not feeling it. But I’m glad to hear the feedback. Come on with it…

  12. Look here Happyfatskinny girl, maybe if your were not looking for more of the same and being so shallow about the woman’s expression (she is an artist and we are all sensetive about her SH%t) then you could enjoy your lil $17.00 cd…. Erykah is the most real artist out there… maybe you cant relate to her knew music because you are stuck in the past when she was go’n on and on about bag ladies but if you keep talk’n bout my potna, whom I kicked it with a few weeks ago when she rocked not only the house of blues but the after party at LAX night club, Im gone have to come find you! lol

  13. i’m glad I’m not on an island w/ this Erykah album!

    i still keep it in my whip…it’s THAT good.

    STAND UP GRAMBLING!!! (and i’m a Bison fyi)

  14. Goes to show you that you really don’t know who you are. Look up the translation from what dude was saying… do you understand now?

  15. I’m really glad this is getting so much criticism. Umm Jazz I did not buy the “lil $17 cd.” And I wouldn’t. Need that $17 for gas in my car. Erykah is great. This just was not her best. And I’ve kicked it with her at FunkJazzKafe in Atlanta to the Halls of DC. Again, this is just not her best effort. No baggage in that statement. Not to say she cannot change or have a new style. All of her music has been new and different. But this is not the best style…its not a complete concept. Maybe that is why she needed a part 2? We shall see…

    Ok Grambling glad to know you will stand by your folks no matter what. Again not a diss on Grambling or Badu. Just an observation, op-ed.

    Still dont know who Eddie Robinson is… Shame on me? But I am glad to know Badu.

  16. You must be 10 years old. Everyone knows Eddie Robinson.


    “Coach Eddie Robinson became the most successful college coach of all time and one of the greatest civil rights pioneers in our history. … Coach Robinson elevated a small town program to national prominence and tore down barriers to achieve an equal playing field for athletes of all races.”

    Perhaps, instead of reviewing Erykah’s cd, you might need to review Black history!

  17. E. badu is not a listen one time artist; you have to more careful with your reviews. She’s not Souja Boy. It’s difficult to get the meaning on the first shot. I had the opportunity to see her live on the new amerykah tour with the roots it was bananas. You should check it out when get chance. With the lack of lyrical content in today’s music, black music is starving for real artist. Even with the bad parts it’s still great. May the force be with you. You we need it if you keep making reviews like this. Peace to the love of real music and not industry driven garbage. Stay 100.

  18. Myron, Thanks for the encouragement and direction. I’ve listened to the CD AT LEAST ten times. Again, I hope you understand that the criticism is not wholesale and definitely not applied to past or future or even the entirety of present Badu work. Simply this work was not the best effort in my opinion. And its one review among many.

    I’d be glad to hear from any of you why you liked the CD. Lets talk about it. I’m not closed to other people’s opinions/perspectives and totally welcome the positive discussion/debate without offense or negativity. I’d like to hear why you liked the CD and not just because she is from Grambling.

    Yo Jennifer I am 10 years old! LOL. Good point. Thanks for the Black History fact. We/I can never know enough. I’ll brush on my contemporary Black History, but wont stop writing.

  19. I have to side with those who are a bit disappointed as well. I can appreciate the fact that Ms. Badu is unique and more socially conscious than the average sista, but I don’t think that it’s necessary for her to go to such great lengths to “hit us in the head” with each and every album. “Love Of My Life” from the flick Brown Sugar was as well recieved as it was IMHO, due to the fact that it was a departure from the Badu-istic message that can wear on you for an entire album. Perhaps she just needs to mix it up a little. All that’s necessary to deliver an album are solid music production and TIGHT vocals, whether it be lead or backgrounds- and let’s be honest, there hasn’t been a lot of growth in her in this area.

    All in all, Ms. Badu will be an artist I’ll continue to love and respect even though she can disappoint from time to time.

  20. Brother Terrence you prbably disappoint your girl from time to time but does she go around bashing you to others? We are not just gone allow yawl to talk SH%t about our friend and fellow Gramblinite… and attending Grambling is more than enough reason to support the effort!

  21. I think we have a hard time separating critism from emotion/devotion. Sometimes when we are really close to something its hard to realize other perspectives. I’m not in love with Erykah like I love for instance Benjamin Andre 3000, who can do no wrong at all ever in my eyes/ears. I got into Badu when she came to a FunkJazzKafe concert in Atlanta and did Bag Lady (without the Nate Dogg loop) acapella. The first CD I bought of hers was WorldWide Underground. Phenomenal! Of course, I listened to past works and could feel her style and the path of her art and message. But I was a late adopter/fan of Badu. Obviously, I’m not as fanatical as some and simply do not connect with this current rendition of Badus talent. I’m not the only one. But am the one that will say it, as un- popular/welcomed as it is.

    I love Me’Shell Ndgeocello, an awesome artist, who is the baddest little lady on a bass. But I hated Bitter and have not really been feeling her latest work. Not to say she still is not talented. I’m just not emotionally attached to her work as I am to her talent. And that is the same for Erykah. I love her talent no matter what. And as an “artist” myself, I understand you go through different forms and variations of expressions. But its not always for your audience. Sometimes the art is very self-conscious and self-cathartic. In this case, I felt like Erykah’s work was just that.

    All that being said (again, at length), I’d be happy to get another review of Badu’s New AmErykah on AlumniRoundUp. You can email it to me at This is a forum for all perspectives.

  22. “Jazz” everything that comes out of Grambling is just top-notch and cannot be questioned or critiqued?

    Again this was not about Grambling or artists that come out of Grambling. Or artist that come out of Howard, Hampton, FAMU, Georgetown, NC State and so on. Its about a great artist who put out some work that some feel was just ehhh…ok at best. It should not stop you, who love it, from enjoying it. And tell me why you liked it so much. Put away the Grambling pride (though much respected) and talk about why it was so awesome to you as a listener. But dont box people in to liking it because Badu came out of Grambling. She stands with a lot more to offer than just her glorious matriculation at Grambling.

  23. I love her new CD, it gives a different vibe and yes it took me a moment for me to get into it, I too was thinking what’s up with this, but I stopped and listened to it a few times to let it sink in…..and I love it…….We need a little shaking up from time to time……she was also great in concert this Spring in Bmore, she did it up her way like no other could…I felt she was being true and genuine to herself which is refreshing because she gave us her spirit in her performance…it was an amazing show

  24. Look Jazz- quit looking through your Black and Gold colored glasses and recognize truth for what it is- the album is not her best effort to date, that’s not bashing and her being a Grambling alum has jack squat to do with it! I expressed my love and respect for her body of work as an artist, if that’s not good enough for you, well needless to say, I’m not going to lose a wink of sleep over it.

    It was you Gramblingites that brought Grambling into the discussion and it’s not even part of the debate- one of you fools even brought up Eddie Robinson!

    It’s your choice to support Ms. Badu unconditionally- and I applaud you for that. But you need to understand the difference between objective criticism and bashing. I like R.Kelly’s body of work musically, but I will never like anything he did from his days with Public Announcement, for example. If you want to blame anybody for your girl being bashed, start with the author of this post! They framed the argument from this point fo view from the jump!

  25. Roxy thanks for the feedback and sharing your experience with New AmErykah. That’s whats up. I been hearing that a repeat listen is necessary. I’ve been listening in my car. Perhaps a change of venue will change my mind? But after listening to the CD several times my heart is still set on New AmErykah, Part 2.

    This discussion has gone from Erykah Badu to Grambling pride to Eddie Robinson, to “disappointing your girl”, to R Kelly (yikes!) and now name calling. Interesting how bringing up an unpopular view point can bring out these types of reactions and points of view. I wonder if such a heated argument would exist about gas/food prices or the state of black children/families…

    At any rate, this is still a good discussion. I’d still like to hear why you liked/disliked New AmEmerykah. But as adults we don’t have to make our point with profane and disrespectful words. Just saying y’all… what would Badu do?

    Anyway, on a side note some have contacted me saying they feel the same (perhaps not as “harshly” as me) but don’t want to start a ruckus with the Badu/Grambling fans. Speak your opinion. Stand up even if its not popular or welcome.

  26. Oh Jennifer, sweetheart- we are all adults here, and we can disagree without resorting to profanity, just as HappyFatSkinnyGirl says. No need to wear your emotions on your sleeve.

    But to make a side point- this demonstrates how easily we as Black folk can inject toxic levels of emotion into a conversation, to the point where differing viewpoints can’t be examined and debated strictly on their merits, as to whether or not facts supoort them.

    The most recent case and point I can site from the area of politics. Countless Black folk got their panties in a bunch over the comments Hillary Clinton made regarding the support she claimed to have from the White working-class voting bloc. From the polling data and other statistics that track the various categories of people that supported a particular candidate that I’ve personally seen, the data supported what she stated! Now Hillary didn’t frame her remark in the most sensitive way, but that wasn’t the basis of the counterargument- people were simply offended at the notion that she had to nerve to validate the White working-class vote in this process, whether or not the standpoint from which she articulated it was factual. Again, flying off the handle on a subject EMOTIONALLY before examining the merits of the subject matter. It’s for this reason that beyond election season that our voices aren’t taken seroiusly in the arena of public debate.

    So Jennifer, I’m not the least bit offended(or threatened) at your juvenile level of debate. I wish you the best at maturing UP to pubescent level.

    Have a Blessed Day!!!

  27. Now thats what I’m talking about Terrence! Spit it. Talk about it. Check your feelings and think about it. Emotions come and go, but the facts remain….

    I like all the replies that this post got, but there are far FAR better topics than my review on Erykah’s latest efforts that deserve your observations/consideration and feedback. Check out the discussions on relationships, fatherhood, families, or even if you are so musically inclined read Billy Batson’s excellent review on the cosmically-blessed group, Coldplay.

    We dont have to all agree. Life would be boring if we did. But we can all value and respect each other. As we were meant to do.

  28. I eagerly and enthusiastically purchased her new CD on the strength of my love for her as an artist… After my purchase and review, I realized I simply couldn’t relate to it… I found it unfortunate that I was unable to listen to most of it in front of my children… so I listened to it when alone and still couldn’t get into but a few songs and/or parts of a few songs… I agree with the review, because it has echoed my experience… Many of my friends love it… unfortunately as with most human proclivities our tastes differ…

    “Amerykahn Promise” was a little more interesting on the third listen…
    I liked the beat of “The Healer” but the message was not something I could agree with…
    “Me” was honest and light
    “My People” was redundant… and I thought my brain was going to shut down after attempting to listen to it all the way through… it just drones on and on..
    “Soldier” was okay
    “The Cell” was forgettable
    “Twinkle” ditto the review above
    “Master Teacher” jumbled… forgettable..
    “That Hump” infectious … wish it was about something else I could relate to! lol
    “Telephone” reminiscent of her past music.. quite sad when learned it was of Dilla… I’m old.. I don’t get the telephone title..
    “Honey”.. average…

    Sis. Kia

  29. Thanks Sis. Kia for your comments and the breakdown of each track. I think you were much more generous than I was. I think/hope your eagerness and enthusiasm will sustain you for Part 2, even if it was let down on Part 1.

  30. Jennifer, show some respect for yourself and your alma mater by responding to collective criticism more intelligently. This is ALUMNI Roundup, not Freshman Roundup.

    I am curious though… do you have Erykah’s previous albums? I own them all and this is by far her weakest effort. Is it wack? No. However, it does not meet the standard that she set for Soulful R&B music. So, naturally, die-hard fans (like myself) were disappointed. We have our opinion and you have yours. Relax… it’s just the internet.

  31. Erykah’s album is a revolutionary album period!! This is one of Erykah’s best projects, it reminds me of Momma’s Gun just an evolution of that piece, a total artistic masterpiece, from the gate it can and will go over your head depending on where you are mentally and spiritually, you have to listen to the whole entire album more than a few times to even comprehend the piece. This album is so cold it will offend some and uplift others. Real art is not that simple, this Sista is trying to take us to the next level, no different than George Clinton back in the day, check it.


  32. Erykah’s album is a revolutionary album period!! This is one of Erykah’s best projects, it reminds me of Momma’s Gun just an evolution of that cd, a total artistic masterpiece, from the gate it can and will go over your head depending on where you are mentally and spiritually, you have to listen to the whole entire album more than a few times to even comprehend the piece. This album is so cold it will offend some and uplift others. Real art is not that simple, this Sista is trying to take us to the next level, no different than George Clinton back in the day, check it.


  33. This Review equals someone who just doesn’t get it! Erykah Badu is a pure artist. She does not give in to what’s in. The beats and lyrics on this album are revolutionary and should be ringing from everybody’s speakers. Instead we have Soulja Boy telling kids to super soak that ho!

    We live in a world of idiocracy! Erykah transcends hip hop…she is universal and beyond! A true soldier of truth and artist extraordinaire. She doesn’t need to mix it up. She needs to do what she feels and sing about it! That’s the problem with artists today, they do what other people want. I am sure she really doesn’t care if people don’t like it, she has something to share with the world. Most people don’t want to be hit in the head with truth. They rather continue buying lattes, drive gas-guzzlin’ SUVs, buy designer clothes, listen to the same ole same ole music, and walk around like the world isn’t in total chaos. There is mayhem in the streets! You betta stay woke!

  34. I’ve got to agree with most of the people on here. I am a big Erykah fan, but I was quite disappointed with this effort. I don’t know what she has gone through over the years since her last release, but to me, her attitude is coming through in her music and it’s not great. One thing i have to understand unlike some of the people commenting on here, is that this cd won’t appeal to everybody. Some people will like it some people won’t, but this cd won’t stop me from loving her as an artist. Maybe her next effort will be better for me

  35. drake,
    Because I told someone to kiss my ass doesn’t mean I don’t have respect for myself. And, yes, I have ALL of her work. This might not be a mama’s gun or whatever. But, as we have all evolved, so has Erykah. And some of the issues that were important to her prior to being a mother, no longer are worth writing a song about.

    But, this CD, is more of a conscious message. I hear Huey Newton and the black panthers in this cd. She is warning of the perils that will affect our children. We have gotten comfortable, believing racism doesn’t exist. She is telling us to stay awake. She is telling us, we haven’t overcome everything just yet.

    Listen to “that hump” and hear her singing her ass off about trying to make ends meet, which most of us are doing now.

    We don’t need another mindless booty shaking song. We need more music that will make us think and pay attention more to what is going on in our world.

  36. Speaking “consciousness” over a beat does not make good art or good music. There must be talent, effort, thought and concept. Erykah possesses these traits, but she did not apply them on this last CD.

  37. Badu has been in the game a long time. All artists evolve with time as does the audience. Depending on who you are you many not like the newer Badu.

    She’s always pushed the norm and did her own thing anyway. Thats why you all love her. I say listen again and if you still don’t like it? Do like I did and put Baduizm in or any of your favorites by her and relax.

  38. I disagree. New Amerykah, Part 1 (4th World War) shows her dedication to hip-hop and was not garbage. From faster songs like The Cell, to a slower song and my favorite song from the album, Telephone, this was an awesome album. Those who didn’t like it need to give it another listen.

    Honey was a hot track. I also liked the video. It’s what got her nominated for 2 BET Awards: Video of the Year, and Best Video Director, which she won.

  39. I read all these comments and I’m not even sure how old this blog is, but I might as well comment. Erykah’s latest album is amazing. What people don’t realize is tha Erykah has 2 target markets. The first target market is for the blinded consumers who only like hooks and beats. The second target market is for the consumers who know what’s going on in this world, thus the reason for the title New Amerykah. We’re living in the New World Order (research it). Most people don’t understand how hard it is to make music. So NO she didn’t just role out of bed and start singing. Every song was approached with specific beats and melodies to deliever the message in a very specific way. The way the blogger describes the songs she “likes” shows the blogger doesn’t really understand the concepts of these songs. Leaving you in the first target market. People want to listen to things that are easy to understand but even if you heard every word in her songs, if you don’t understand what she’s saying you don’t deserve to understand. This goes to anyone bringing negative vibes to the table. It’s not always about her voice, we know her voice is angelic, it’s about a message she’s trying to send the ignorant blinded people stuck in the matrix of this world. So I know that most people won’t like this album. You have to realize that it took erykah badu year 5 years to come out with this new album and people are trying to sit here and bash it, like she didn’t bust her ass trying to educate dumb people while still pleasing her record label? People are so silly. Please listen to the album for the 21st time, if it doesn’t seep through, then I suggest looking up “historic interview with aaron russo” on yahoo search. Then.. listen to the album again, until you understand what she’s trying to do. We’re the people and the people are blinded. It’s not about music alone. It’s beyond music.

  40. Ditto to everything above. I know I’m extremely late, but honestly…
    I bought this album last year and I am JUST NOW understanding a lot of the concepts and lyrics.

    However, at least I am intelligent enough to know the difference between not understanding something and not enjoying something. Black people… when we will open our minds? Sorry she didn’t Beyonce you into shaking your ass or nodding your head by talking about boys and fashion and swag and God knows what else.

    However, I am sure Ms. Badu would be happy to actually lose you as a fan… no joke. Twinkle was written for you… cuz you, my sister, are still a slave (and probably proud of it).

  41. Like others on here, it took several plays for the lyrics to sink in. I absolutely love this CD and look forward to anything Erykah has to put out.

    There are some tracks on the CD that I skip over but the overall message of the CD is that Erykah has a brain and knows how to work it. Soldier, Twinkle, The Healer, and Honey are the best on the CD (with Soldier and Twinkle being my two favorites.)

    I don’t understand how some of these reviews can dismiss Twinkle. Did you listen to what she was singing? It’s the absolute truth. “They don’t know their language, they don’t know their God, they take feel what they’re given even when it feels odd” she is singing of the lost youth today.

    I wish this CD would be blasted on the radio stations rather than the bullshit that is passed off for rap and hip hop.

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