Erykah Badu's New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh, the eccentric Dallas soul singer's follow-up to 2008's New Amerykah Part One: 4th World War, leads this week's pack of new releases. While Part One found Badu dipping into electronic sounds, "Part Two revives Badu's romantic side, and at its best it places her on a sun-splashed day in 1972," Jody Rosen writes. "On the gorgeous "Window Seat," [Check out the NSFW video here] her supremely mellow voice is awash in jazzy Fender Rhodes keyboards and loping funk-soul grooves." Despite other highlights like "Turn Me Away (Get Munny)" and "Gone Baby, Don't Be Long," Part Two only garnered a three-star review from RS, as Rosen writes, "Problem is, Badu seems so taken by hazy texture — and so determined to play the weirdo — that she's neglected to write many actual songs."
For the Wu heads out there, the Clan's Ghostface, Raekwon and Method Man have teamed up for Wu-Massacre, their first disc under the obvious moniker Meth Ghost Rae. While the album doesn't reach the same heights as Tony Starks' Fishscale or the Chef's 2009 masterpiece Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2, the decades together have given an infectious camaraderie to this elite group of rappers that makes Wu Massacre a great listen while you wait for next real Wu LP. "Ghostface Killah is weirder, Raekwon is gruffer, Method Man is zanier, and here the three kings of Staten Island hip-hop return to their classic-Wu roots like nothing's changed since 1995 but the sports references," Jon Dolan writes in his three-and-a-half star review.
Usher returns this week with Raymond v. Raymond, an album that sounds like it's about his divorce but is instead about Usher getting back into playa mode. "On 2008's snoozy Here I Stand, a then-married Usher sang about devotion, domesticity and freaking the wifey (and only the wifey)," Christian Hoard writes in his three-star review of Raymond. "Since then, however, Usher's marriage imploded — a development that's good for the single ladies of metro Atlanta but yields mixed results on his sixth studio disc." While the album does feature some standouts like "Papers" and "Lil Freak," Usher can't keep the momentum going over the whole of Raymond v. Raymond.
For more on the best new discs in stores this week, check out Rolling Stone's Album Reviews section now.