Release Date: 06.24.03
Record label: A&M Records
Genre(s): Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, etc.
Pop Pop Goes the Weasel, the Weasel
by: tom reiter
It's not everyday a semi-underground/roots effort hip-hop act can take on a pop sound and maintain credibility in the hip-hop industry. However, The Black Eyed Peas are out to prove critics and fans wrong. With their third release, Elephunk, the Black Eyed Peas not only take on a new member, but also a new twist to their music.
Let's take a look at what the first "new" does for the group. As the title implies, Elephunk sets out to achieve a funkier, soulful, club sound. By adding Fergie to their lineup, BEP gets a good solid dose of style and flair, and some fairly good vocal support to boot. Fergie's throaty voice fits somewhere in between Pink and Christina in tone. Granted, she may not be up to their level, but she does have plenty of talent to get the job done. She wasn't brought in to be a feature, and she's not on just to sing hooks...she's meant to complement the trio, and that's just what she does.
Moving on to "new" number two...
So what exactly is the Black Eyed Peas new sound? Well, to best answer that, one must first know what BEP has done in the past. If one thing has been a constant, it's that BEP puts out fun music. On their previous albums, they didn't stray too far from the standard vein of hip-hop, which in their case is loose rhymes structured around tight samples. While Elephunk doesn't completely forego this basic structure, it does borrow from several other types of music for its backbone. Thus creating an album that is of different flavor, but it cannot be labled as any one style.
Elephunk fuses elements of hip-hop, jazz, funk, rock, and a touch of dancehall all in one complete package. "Hands Up" opens things up much like an intro to the main act at a concert...getting the energy goin' and giving the audience a taste of what is to come. It's also lets the listener know that this album is going to be something different for BEP. Bounce over a couple of tracks and you land into "Let's Get Retarded," which beckons one and all to "get stupid" and "retarded in here". PC? Maybe not...but when you're having this much fun who the hell cares? Up next is the jump up, soulful, dancehall based "Hey Mama."
Other noteables include the true to its name "Smells Like Funk." This is the only time something smelling funky is perfectly acceptable, and even desired...cuz they "keep it stinky." BEP combines with Papa Roach on "Anxiety" adding a bit of edge to an otherwise happy-go-lucky album. Does it fit? Not really...but it is different and worth exploring for BEP. Finally...there's "Where Is the Love". Justin Timberlake makes an appearance for this track, but it's hardly noticable and really wasn't neccessary. It probably helped them get more noteriety than improve the song, which is beautiful on its own.
While Elephunk offers something different for Black Eyed Peas fans, it's also a fun album that is irresistable from start to finish for newcomers. Definitely worth a listen. 21-Jul-2003 9:25 PM