Erykah Badu returns to recording with 2-part release

Sat Feb 2, 2008 5:33pm EST
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By Hillary Crosley

NEW YORK (Billboard) - In her decade-plus career, R&B artist Erykah Badu hasn't been afraid to wait long periods between projects.

But now Badu is making up for lost time. Five years since her last release, the "Worldwide Underground" EP, she is putting the finishing touches on "Nu AmErykah," a double album to be released in separate installments.

The first disc, dubbed "4th World War," arrives February 26 via Universal Motown, while the second, as yet untitled installment is tentatively slated for the summer.

Badu isn't particularly concerned about whether the extended layoff may have affected her fan base. "I don't worry about that, but the label mentions that a lot," she said. "I think if people like music, then they like music."

To be sure, the Dallas native has still posted impressive sales numbers by focusing solely on the music. Her 1997 debut, "Baduizm," has sold 2.6 million units in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. A live album released that year shifted another 1.8 million, while the sales total for 2000's "Mama's Gun" stands at 1.3 million.

"Worldwide Underground" topped out at 609,000 copies. Badu freely admits that she didn't promote it. "I just didn't feel like it," she said. "I'd just had a new baby and I chose that."

Since then, she's made the occasional studio guest appearance (2002's "Brown Sugar" soundtrack, Zap Mama's "Bandi Bandi"), but has spent most of her time on the road.

"Artists don't make any money from recording," said Badu, who will be back on the road in the United States in May. "The only thing I make money from is touring. I stay on the road. I'm taking R&B where it's going."   Continued...