Black Eyed Peas - Elephunk

Who'd have though that Black Eyed Peas would have gone into number 1 this week with "Where Is The Love?", a low key collaboration with Justin Timberlake. It seems so far away from when Designer Magazine interviewed the band a couple of years ago around the release of "Request Line" with Macy Gray. In fact it's been far from an overnight success story for the bands main man Will-I-Am who started rapping 15 years ago back in the hood when he was just 13 years ago and it wasn't no Lil Bow Wow wack shit, the rhymes were all strictly Will-I-Am's own.

"Elephunk" sees the band moving on from the sound of the first two albums which at times brought in accusations of BEP's simply being A Tribe Called Quest tribute act. Funk of Phunk is the order of the day and being Elephunk it's clearly huge phat slabs of phunk designed to shake you booty like Beyonce in an epileptic fit. The question of whether anything matches up to "Where Is The Love?" in truth is a little unfair, were talking about a classic single and one that 10 years from now will be looked on in the same way that people look at Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin as soul demigods. The guitar riff, lush strings and simple yet effective beats combine while 3 unique rappers throw socially conscious poetry over the top before the beauty vocal melody from Fergie and Timberlake floats across the chorus. Apart from "The Apl Song", which follows roughly the same structure and production techniques, BEP's don't even try to write "Where Is The Love?" Part 2 and why should they. "Let's Get Retarded" is the perfect option for the next single flipping the track over with a club banger which should see the nation simultaneous shouting lets get stupid, lets get retarded while the ghost of George Clinton provides the soundtrack. "Hey Mama" comes across as the perfect successor to the ragga tones of Sean Paul mixed with "The Thong Song" hooking onto the asian influence creeping across the R&B scene at the moment. "Shut Up", four to the floor beats, spy movie guitar riffs and Fergie coming to the fore with a vocal which sounds like X-Tina covering Michael Jackson and Will-I-Am's sounding ever like his dopelganga Wyclef Jean.

Black Eyed Peas have produced an album which consciously destroys their history and reinvents them as a force to be reckoned with. A collaboration with Papa Roach, "Anxiety",  seems somewhat out of place but rather than head for the straight up hip-hop rock crossover formula they actually attempt to instil it with the funk that the rest of the album revels in. Funk with the flavour of...seems to be the ideology behind the album and on "Sexy" we get jazzy vibes, "Latin Girls" is obvious and "Smells Like Funk" with it's laid back shuffling beat. "Elephunk" may not be the album of the year, although it comes close, but it's certainly an album which has taken Black Eyed Peas to the next level.

Alex McCann

Post your Black Eyed Peas reviews / comments on the Message Board