Sell-out. It’s been a problem ever since hip-hop was big enough to buy in. A sell-out has trades in their musical integrity for a Bentley, cashes in their dignity for diamonds. It’s easy to scream at the tv in disgust when the underground MC you used to love debuts his new video “Shake It Like a Crackhead” on 106 & Park, but the truth is more complicated. Maybe you’re mad the world knows your secret, or maybe the new music’s just not the same as the old stuff. And let’s be real, if your boss …
Fans can also check out will.i.am's previous albums: will.i.am - #willPOWER
DJBooth Album Review
In all honesty, I’ve called will.i.am a sell-out. It’s hard to believe the b-boy dropping verses with the Black Eyed Peas back in the day is the same guy dancing behind Fergie, but now I’ll have to reconsider. If will.i.am had listened to my pleas for another Behind The Front he wouldn’t have made his solo album Songs About Girls. Girls is musically adventurous in a way I couldn’t have imagined; a simmering stew of 70’s disco, 80’s new wave and contemporary pop that’s sometimes brilliant, sometimes boring. I’m still nostalgic for the good ol’days, but for now I’m willing to follow the man as he goes his own way.
will.i.am isn’t the only producer making booty songs, but at least he’s got his own style. I Got It From My Mama is the lead single off Songs About Girls and while we could debate whether the “hot mother equals hot daughter” formula is true, what can’t be argued is the track’s contagious appeal. Guys everywhere should thank will.i.am. He gets the ladies feeling so good about themselves they want to show off, a far cry from the testosterone drenched bangers that treat women like cattle. Speaking of which, The Donque Song (come on will, it’s “Donkey”) is will.i.am’s latest ode to “mega-ass.” The beat is a surprisingly effective combination of speaker shaking bass and 70’s disco melodies, it’s like someone brought a roller skating rink to the club. Only Snoop could rap over a song like this and the Doggfather speeds up his flow for a memorably trippy verse. These songs aren’t as catchy as My Humps, but they’re not as borderline retarded either. Sorry Fergie, I just call em like I see em.
One listen to Songs About Girls confirms that will.i.am is an expert producer. One More Chance drops distinctly island percussion over softly climbing synths and reverb-heavy guitars, it’s the kind of mad genius mixture that somehow creates a living, breathing song. will.i.am. continues his spacey vibe on Ain’t It Pretty, a valium-slow joint that takes the old love at first sight cliché and gives it some soul. He’s not neccessarily breaking new ground on Ain’t It Pretty, but he’s certainly pushing the boundaries of hip-hop with extended instrumental jams and infusions of electronica. He hits his creative peak on She’s A Star, a haunting song that relies on will.i.am’s meager but distinctive vocals. Production quality, concept, lyrics, She’s A Star is the complete package. These tracks show will.i.am has the potential to go down as a brave musical experimenter, or a simplistic booty lover. Songs About Girls has plenty of both.
Unfortunately will.i.am’s willingness to delve into unexplored territory lead him astray a few times on Songs About Girls. Impatient is a vocal-free track that runs in circles but never really goes anywhere except a decided 70’s flashback. I’d probably like this song if I was sky high on blow in the middle of Studio 54, that not being the case it’s just boring. Dynamic Interlude is another song that seems more like a late-night experiment than a track befitting a major release, and I’m still disapointed by S.O.S. (Mother Nature), will.i.am’s environmentally conscious choice to end the album. Good message, mediocre music, terrible lyrics, that about sums it up. So does Songs About Girls make will.i.am a sell-out? No, he’s too talented for such a simple label, but you can’t help but wish he’d use his musical superpowers for a greater good. You know, something that will make you say, “That’s the joint, that’s the jam, turn it up, play it again.”
Listen to More: will.i.am Written by Nathan S.
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"I Got It From My Mama" (2007)
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