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1 January, 2000@12:00 am

 After introducing their multi-culture style of honest, instrumentally driven hip-hop to the masses two years ago with Behind The Front, and it’s breakthrough single “Joints and Jams”, the trio returns to the scene to pick up right where their debut left off. Bridging The Gap is the second chapter in the BEP empire’s legacy, and things are twice as nice the second time around.

Of course there is the “them n*ggas ain’t hip-hop” argument, a stance that some heads take, due to the fact that the crew’s wardrobe looks more fitting to an alternative band. But the truth of the matter is that these brothers are more “hip-hop” than half of the groups signed to major labels these days. Yet another common complaint against the Peas is that their lyrics are too simple, and that while they are producing the same kind of progressive flavor as artists like A Tribe Called Quest and The Roots, their lyrical skill doesn’t match those of their peers.

All arguments aside, the Black Eyed Peas deliver quite possibly the purest hip-hop release of the year with Bridging The Gap. This time around the guest list is heavy, yet this mosaic thump maintains a common vision, with each of the guests contributing to the bigger picture, rather than making the album sound like a mixtape. Artists like Mos Def and Jurassic 5′s Chali 2na seem like they belong on tracks like “On My Own” and “Get Original”, as they add their two cents to the respective last verses. And while the usually taboo addition of R&B vocals on hip-hop albums is present on almost all of the album’s tracks, for once it’s done right, enlisting females who actually know how to sing over hip-hop beats, such as Macy Gray, Esthero, and Les Nubians ? and it works. Tracks like “Hot” and “Lil Lil” create a beautiful vibe, and musically, the chemistry between BEP, the track, and the respective females singing the hooks is incredible. Even joints that are tailor-made for the sole purpose of rocking the house are done in a respective fashion, such as the “Saturdays” inspired “Weekends”, and the latin-flavored “Tell Your Mama Come”.

This album reflects the old school, whether it’s the party chants of ’73 through ’93 that endlessly creep into their lyrics, or simply the inspiration of classics like “Planet Rock” and “Lookout Weekend”, yet the Peas progressive sound makes it sound incredibly fresh and new. While their west-coast origins and happy-go-lucky attitudes may never penetrate the shell of the average Brooklyn hardrock, hopefully the rest of the world will listen.

  Mixtape D.L.
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