This critic chronicles the Black Eyed Peas in two eras: “B.F.” and “A.F.”. “B.F.” refers to the great era before Fergie, while “A.F.” refers to…well you get the drift. Granted their commercial success is attributed to Mrs. Fergie, a leftover from failed 90′s pop group, Wild Orchid. Because of this, their hip-hop credibility has suffered significantly. This is coming from a group that used to come out on stage with a live band and break dance throughout their entire show. This isn’t a hater’s mentality; this is just the honest truth.
So here it is 2009, the musical landscape has changed greatly from even four years ago when they dropped the ultra-commercially successful Monkey Business. So before you get started you have to ask yourself is this going to be the Behind The Front Peas or the Elephunk Peas. One might expect the latter, but The E.N.D. is neither. Will.I.Am and company have reinvented themselves to follow the trend that has already started in popular club music. Out are the 75 BPM crunk cuts, in are the 128 BPM uptempo electro-tinged dance songs. This is apparent by the first mega single “Boom Boom Pow”. Usually Will handles the production on his own, but this time they are looking for a distinct sound, namely that of veteran house music producer David Guetta and Keith Harris, whom helped reinvent “The Girl is Mine” from MJ’s 25th Anniversary Thriller release. So if you are looking for a hint of sampled soulful hip-hop, it’s not here. But if you are looking for an album that nearly every song is playable at a party, you have come to the right place.
The album starts with a monologue, which almost acts a disclaimer of what to expect. Here, it is stated that nothing stays the same, and everything is changes: therefore, welcome to The E.N.D. The main issue with this is the Peas are jumping on a train that has already left the station. If this album would have dropped in ’06, they might have been ahead of the curve, but instead this looked at more as jumping on the bandwagon. But enough of the diatribe let’s get to the music.
The album starts remarkably strong with every girl’s favorite “I’m so 2008 you’re so 2000 and late” banger “Boom Boom Pow” which segues into arguably the album’s best track “Rock Your Body”, produced by David Guetta, which samples Rob Base’s “It Takes Two”. If this isn’t a single, the A&R on this project is deaf. Flipping it up from high energy dance is “Meet Me Halfway”, where Will.I.Am dumbs down lyrically more than he ever has, but the Fergie hook sounds like Belinda Carlisle and will be total radio fodder. “Imma Be” is a more uptempo “A Milli”, while “I Got a Feeling” is Guetta’s “Love is Gone (Part 2)”. It sounds like a crazy Will.I.Am bite, but gets a pass because it is also produced by David Guetta.
The album continues with the autotuned “Alive”, then the booty call ode “Ring-A-Ling”, where Will poignantly raps “my phone goes ring-a-ling, a-ling, ling/ring-a-ling, a ling, ling/hello hello hello hello/the girls want ding-a-ling, a-ling, ling/ding-a-ling, a-ling, ling”. “Party All The Time”, “Out of My Head” and “Electric City” all follow the same formula: dance and party without a care in the world. “Showdown” is the lone apl.de.ap production credit, and actually one of the album’s strongest tracks. “Now Generation” is an attempt at indie rock, however comes off more like “My Sharona”, while “Rockin to The Beat” sounds like it should have been on Chromeo’s album. Not a bad thing, but once again….just a bandwagon jump two years too late.
As stated, there is nothing lyrical about The E.N.D., if anything it’s the E.N.D. of Black Eyed Peas giving a rat’s ass about hip-hop music. All in the Peas have created an album strictly for the clubs and the radio. With some truly good songs and many forgettable uptempo fillers, The E.N.D. falls well short of a classic album. We applaud the attempt of stepping out of the box, but merely jumping on the bandwagon and exposing the brain dead public to what deejays, remixers, and club promoters have known for nearly three years isn’t innovative, it’s just recycled.
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