Erykah Badu is high again, and I couldn't be happier. I don't really know what the above track is (the weird younger sister of the entirely too straightforward "Honey"?) but I do know that it's extremely special. It's a less-than-perfect sounding, perhaps slightly incomplete (dig how it cuts off at the end) rip of the new Badu single that Gilles Peterson played last week on Radio 1. Not sure if that tape hiss on top is intentional, but I'm hoping it is, as it gives the track a deliciously nostalgic ambiance (remember when we listened to tapes, back when hip-hop was good and shit?). Indie hip-hop producer Madlib is responsible for the beat -- love that (stereotypical?) Oriental twinkling and love love LOVE those voices that creep in to respond to Erykah every now and then. Hip-hop soul and R&B are basically synonymous today, but it's rare that you hear something so deep come up against singing, rather than rapping.
It's like Erykah is hotboxing each of the 36 chambers and what comes out is sometimes lofty ("Hip-hop is bigger than the government...is bigger than religion") and sometimes plain-old nonsensical (here's my stab at a transcription of her first lines: "Um dee lee la Allah, Jehovah / No way Dee oh saw haute Jah / Rastafarify a dance, sex, music / Hip-hop..." I like to think that "Dee" refers to she of What's Happening. Praise her.). This is the sound of a woman totally giving herself over to music, both that which she's creating and that which created her. It is my favorite single of 2008 so far and that makes me so excited: I cannot wait to hear whatever's going to top this.