Even the Black Eyed Peas couldn’t have seen this coming. At the turn of the millennium the Peas were a three man hip-hop crew known for throwing down b-boy moves, and today they’re a dance-pop juggernaut beloved by middle America and fronted by a white chick with humps. Allow me to fill in the gaps. In 2004 the Peas added the multi-talented Fergie to their eclectic mix and watched their album sales soar (changing Let’s Get Retarded to Let’s Get It Started also helped). After My Humps and Pump It skyrocketed the group to new …
DJBooth Album Review
In 2004 the Peas added the multi-talented Fergie to their eclectic mix and watched their album sales soar (changing Let’s Get Retarded to Let’s Get It Started also helped). After My Humps and Pump It skyrocketed the group to new found heights the formula for the Peas’ success was glaringly obvious: more Fergie, less anyone else, more booty shakin will.i.am beats, less underground hip-hop. And that brings us to The E.N.D.
The E.N.D., aka The Energy Never Dies, is the inevitable next step in the Peas’ musical trajectory; an album focused almost entirely on the club that essentially relegates Taboo and apl.de.ap to background singers. (Half of you just went, “Tabwho and what?”) To that end The E.N.D. is an absolute monster of an album, a musical patchwork that should make DJs everywhere dizzy with remix potentials. With will.i.am masterminding the musical architecture and Fergie working the spotlight with unmistakable skill, the Black Eyed Peas have become the undisputed Kings of the Guilty Pleasure Song, and The E.N.D. is their throne.
At this point hating on the Peas for making songs like Boom Boom Pow is like getting mad at Hostess for making Twinkies: so they rot your teeth, so f**king what? They’re delicious. Boom Boom Pow, or BBP as the cool kids call it, is in many ways an evolution for the group, with will.i.am adding an addictive electronic density to the production and Fergie playing her role as the sassy party starter to perfection - exactly the type of track used to pump up crowds during basketball games. That arena rock mission is accomplished even more fully by I Gotta Feelin, a cut that uses a live band foundation, an anthem of a chorus and the world’s first recorded use of auto-tuned Hebrew to create a song your grandma, your girl and your niece would sing along to. In other words, it’s an advertisers’ wet dream. In fact, I guarantee you they’re filming a Pepsi commercial using I Gotta Feelin right now.
Here’s the best way I can describe the Black Eyed Peas’ biggest hits: If I recited the chorus of their songs in a normal voice you’d think I was retarded, but when set to music the Peas somehow make it work. On that tip, My Humps may have found a serious contender to it’s Most Ridiculous Chorus in a Hit Song crown by Ring-a-Ling, a track whose chorus contains the phrase “a girl want ding-a-ling-a-ling, ding-a-ling”. (Seriously. I dare you to say that out loud.) But even with a chorus like that, I’ll be damned if it isn’t one of my favorites on the album, mostly because will.i.am absolutely murders the beat. It’s a similar story on Imma Be, a track featuring Fergie flossing her so-bad-it’s-good rhyme style, and the unapologetically alcoholic Party All the Time, a cut that blurs the lines between pop, hip-hop and house with skill. Also, girls want my ding-a-ling. Just thought I’d mention that again.
Like the Manny Ramirez of the music industry, there are times when all you can do is shake your head and say, “that’s just the Peas being the Peas.” The Black Eyed Peas are a group who have openly embraced their roles as entertainers, which makes The E.N.D.’s awkward attempts at political relevance infuriating. Now Generation sounds like an middle-aged father’s attempts to impress his kids by rapping, with some screaming and country music thrown in, and One Tribe’s “why can’t we all just get along” message is painfully simplistic. Sorry will.i.am, just because CNN turned you into a hologram does not make you our generation’s Bob Dylan. Thankfully, The E.N.D. spends the vast majority of its time out of the classroom and on the dance floor. From the kinetic energy of Rock That Body to the mellow pop of Alive, this is an album built on the premise that right now, we all just need to have a good time. Do I love The E.N.D.? Not even close. But the Black Eyed Peas are here to stay, so I might as well just relax and join in on the party, and I suggest you do the same. The E.N.D.
Listen to More: Black Eyed Peas Written by Nathan S.
A&M/ Will.I.Am Music Group
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Boom Boom Pow" (2009)
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