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by Matt Conaway
1 January, 2001@12:00 am
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Jay Dee and Pete Rock’s extremely contrasting contributions to BBE’s ambitious, and rapidly unfolding Beat Generation series, has made it increasingly difficult to discern where the labels true musical vision lies. While Jay Dee’s Welcome To Detroit was a more rhyme-orientated opus, Pete Rock’s Petestrumentals was a distinctly jazzy, instrumental based endeavor. Wil.I.Am’s Lost Change is a solid extension of this movement, as it cozily nestles itself in between these two releases, sprinkling in an equal assortment of both beats and rhymes.

On the surface, Will seems like a rather odd choice for the BBE series. Reason being, while Will is the chief architect of the Black Eyed Peas feel-good brand of hip-hop, he is not genuinely regarded as a top-flight producer, and his credentials certainly pale in comparison to Pete Rock, Jay Dee, or any of the other producers BBE has tapped for future installments. Those sentiments figure to change with Lost Change; as it allows Will the creative freedom to explore new avenues of sound, which his work with B.E.P. did not allow.

Though Will has taken the instrumental based series, and put his own stamp on it, that stamp still contains occasional hues of B.E.P.’s organic stylings (“Ev Rebahdee” f/ Planet Asia). Yet, BBE’s progressive format frees Will up to dabble in a menagerie of musical styles. And he is up to the challenge, as Lost Change fuses together aspects of jazz, electronica, funk, Caribbean, and trip-hop rhythms.

While the straight up rhyming tracks border on sublime (“I Am”), to humdrum (“Money” f/ Huck Fynn, Oezlem, and Horn Dogs), it is the instrumental format where Will truly flourishes. Showing a true knack for experimentation, Will leisurely darts back and forth between the Reggae scented “Possessions”, “Lost Change” (which coalesces jazzy horns, with junkyard band riffing) and the hazy electronic fuzz of “Thai Arrive”, which unfolds like a Radiohead track, minus the attitude. Similarly, “Lay Me Down” has the potential to be a breakout hit, as Will’s infectious snare claps, and blissful horn snippets provide a cooled-out platform for Terry Dexter’s soulful vocal scatting.

On “Control Tower” Will inserts a vocal clip that states, “I’m on the brink of a great achievement.” Though Lost Change falls short of those lofty expectations, Will does an admirable job of implementing a host of different styles, without losing the listener in the process, as Lost Change is a sophisticated, musically enthralling endeavor, which still manages to be accessible.

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