Black Eyed Peas: The Beginning

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Posted January 11, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

Party factor, ’80’s tribute sum up the best of Black Eyed Peas sixth disc

After the clubland domination of 2009’s The E.N.D., the Black Eyed Peas are returning with something resembling a prequel. The E.N.D. pretty much summed up what dominates the party pop radio now.  The Beginning, the super-cool hip-hop/pop clique’s sixth offering, meddles with pasttime inspirations and timeless melodies. And it’s obvious to note their extravagance of ’80’s pop culture, playing with K.C. & the Sunshine Band ditties and The Buggles’ big hit “Video Killed the Radio Star” (“Love You Long Time”), Chic and Blondie samples (“Fashion Beats”) and most importantly, nabbing the chorus from Dirty Dancing’s apex on the album opener, “The Time (Dirty Bit).” But even the big hit of “Dirty Bit,” in the eyes of the studious observer, sounds awfully familiar. It’s basically a smart reprise of “Boom Boom Pow,” even down to will.i.am’s “C’mon, let’s go…” phrasing sounding like “I got that rock ‘n roll…” in “”Boom Boom Pow.” Aside from obvious similarities of its predecessor, in which will.i.am is guilty of creating, The Beginning tries to invent a new kind of avant-garde for big-bass party music.

On the surface, the artsy part of Beginning is quite appealing. Instead of cramming in a bunch of Top 40 singles, the foursome organize a template loaded with electro-symphonic interludes, mood changers and club introits. They are lucky to squeeze in some impressive moments. “Don’t Stop the Party” lays out futuristic house beats and some Kanye-influenced rhyming (“Get up off my genitals/I stay on that pinnacle/Kill you with my lyricals/Call me verbal criminal”). “XOXOXO” goes Daft Punk on its arrangement and the two-part experiments of “Do It Like This” brings the excess of playful and naughty together like a P. Diddy penthouse party. When David Guetta tags on for “The Best One Yet (The Boy),” the club grooves cleverly insert a Madonna-esque pop melody, sweetly rendered by Fergie, into the mix.

While still a dance record, Beginning is still a challenge for a full-lengther, even for the dance floor. There’s loads of merciless synth pitch-bending and endless merry-go-round loops to fight with. And Fergie, the band’s lead vocalist, is pinned down by heavyweight Auto-Tune and not enough shine in the front. When digested peacefully and in bits, Beginning is pleasurably for the bloodsuckers of the nightlife. But as a whole, it can be one fucked-up hangover.

J MATTHEW COBB

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HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 26 November 2010
  • Label: Interscope
  • Producers: will.i.am, DJ Ammo, Free School, David Guetta, Giorgio Tuinfort, Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkinsm DJ Frank E
  • Spin This: “The Time (Dirty Bit),” “XOXOXO,” “Don’t Stop the Party”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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