If you thought that the Black Eyed Peas were a one-hit wonder when you heard “Joints and Jams” off their last album, this release obviously caught you sleeping. Honestly I was not checking for their new release either, but their brand new “Discover Hip-Hop” video was so humerous and clever I had to give the crew another chance to shine.

Off the top, I have to say I find the stance of Will.I.Am, Apl.De.Ap and Angryfoot a little bizarre. Even though they constantly berate other MC’s for not elevating the art of lyricism, their lyrics are little more than glue that binds together the beats. Not so much weak or wack as¬†UNIMPRESSIVE, their entire rap style seems rooted in the Native Tongues vibe of the early 1990’s. This is highly apparent when they rock “Get Original” with Chali 2na from Jurassic 5.

“You might as well, turn in your mic
and start collectin dollars at the turnpike
Cause the rhymes you kick, need to be fixed
But you couldn’t even fix them {*”in the mix*}
If you ate pebbles, your shit wouldn’t rock”

This is okay, if a little bit stilted, but when 2na grabs the mic and kicks his retro-futuristic (that’s a contradiction, deal with it) flow he completely blows them out of the water:

“When you think about rap in it’s entirety
Violence became variety
Silently personalities differ from what they try to be
2na be on the frontline, what rhyme shall I hit you with
Sluggish like a barbituate, we can make you admit you bit”

It’s not that BEP is off point when they criticize MC’s with “their SUV rhymes” but that they really aren’t the standard bearers for elevating the art of rhymes. There are much better MC’s like Aceyalone, Pharoahe Monch, and Kool G. Rap who can handle that job. Where the Black Eyed Peas succeed is when they work on making party grooves such as “Weekends” with Esthero and “On My Own” with Les Nubian and Mos Def. It also works well on songs where they proclaim love or pledge allegiance to hip-hop, such as on the DJ Premier produced “BEP Empire” or “Rap Song,” where Wyclef drops by to play guitar.

“She was the, ‘Public Enemy #1’
She was my, ‘Mona Lisa” when we first begun
She got me, ‘Jumpin Around’ like Everlast
Singin a, ‘Rap Life’ with help from Tash
She be my, metronome rhythm to my feet
And when we, when we do it do it to the beat”

This is not a revolutionary album; but then again, neither was their debut. Both albums have one thing in common – they are a good listen from start to finish. When you ignore the somewhat misplaced polemics and allow your mind to float in the groove, it’s a smooth ride. The guest appearances are appropriate – De La Soul on “Cali to New York,” Macy Gray on “Request + Line” and so on. This is a well conceived and packaged rap album whose main purpose should be to get your head bop on.

Black Eyed Peas :: Bridging the Gap
6.5Overall Score