The Best Albums In Dallas Music, 2008: Erykah Badu Starts A War At No. 3

Editor's Note: Over the next 10 days, I'll be presenting my favorite local records of the year, counting down from No. 10 to No. 1, one album a day. Keep checking back to see how the list pans out, and, in the meantime, click after the jump to see albums No. 20-11 in the Top 20 list that will update as the it grows...

No. 3:
Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Pt. 1: 4th World War

In many regards, 2008 was Erykah Badu's biggest year yet. By releasing her first full-length studio album in five years, the queen of neo-soul returned to the spotlight and was received as quite the big deal--both here in her hometown and in other locales far and wide.

It seemed that, with the release of New Amerykah Pt. 1: 4th World War, Badu's celebrity immediately launched beyond the realm of hip-hop and R&B stardom and into straight-up, no-questions-asked, all-around big-deal music star (the crossover approval she earned from My Morning Jacket, who Badu famously joined on stage at the Palladium back in August, no doubt helped her cause, at least a little).

But this disc is more than just a modern funk take or America's token urban sound du jour. New Amerykah serves as a poignant statement on the status of the country we live in, a political statement and cultural outcry about the haves and have nots and about the sometimes questionable future we've created for ourselves.

And it does more than simply point out these errors. It offers to flat-out fix them.

Bonus mp3: Erykah Badu -- "The Healer"

On "The Healer", Badu sweetly suggests that the problems with the world and with music--and, specifically, with hip-hop--can be solved with the release of the right song (in this case, hers). Not surprisingly, it's the critical darling on an album filled with many other great cuts, including the disc's picture-perfect first single, "Honey" (which boasted an award-winning, Grammy-nominated video).

It all just felt...right. And comforting. Like, maybe, we'd forgotten about Badu--and, now that she was back, we regretted feeling that way. And, certainly, we didn't want to feel that way again.

Well, good news on that front: New Amerykah Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh is tentatively due for a February 17 release. --Pete Freedman

The Top 20 Local Releases Of 2008
20. Collin Herring - Past Life Crashing
19. Stumptone - Gravity Suddenly Released
18. Dove Hunter - The Southern Unknown
17. Febrifuge - A Short Instance Of Separation
16. Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights - Hot Trottin'
15. Toadies - No Deliverance
14. Record Hop - Record Hop
13. The New Frontiers - Mending
12. Fight Bite - Emerald Eyes
11. Lil Wil - Dolla$, TX
10. Dem Southernfolkz - The Message
9. True Widow - True Widow
8. The Theater Fire - Matter and Light
7. Centro-matic/South San Gabriel - Dual Hawks
6. Sarah Jaffe - Even Born Again EP
5. Mount Righteous - When The Music Starts
4. Calhoun - Falter. Waver. Cultivate
3. Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Pt 1: 4th World War
2. ??????
1. ??????

...and keep checking back, as this list will update daily.

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Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman