I was a fan of the Black Eyed Peas from the first
time I heard their 1998 debut Behind The Front. The cleverly-titled
album was a breath of fresh air in the stagnant money, bitches and guns late
90’s. The then trio rocked over a live band, making music that garnered
comparisons to the likes of The Roots and The Fugees.
Unfortunately for the BEP’s, they had neither The Roots’ respect
nor the The Fugees‘ sales. They followed up with another quality album
in 2000 with Bridging The Gap, but paled alongside the like-minded Jurassic
5 and their Quality Control, and failed to get the registers
ringing. Something was needed, and in 2003, Elephunk got that something.
A white girl who sings was added to the already
multi-cultural crew and they injected their music with an unbearable amount of
radio-friendly pop. Elephunk was loaded with hits in “Where Is The Love,” “Let’s Get Retarded”
and “Hey Mama.” The Peas
got those sales they had been looking for as they eventually pushed some 4
million copies worldwide. There was another downside, though – the album was
just god awful. Personally I was never a big enough fan to care that they
cashed it all in for the dollars, I was just happy to hear some positive music
getting burn. 05’s Monkey Business did just as well in sales as their
music went from bad to downright unbearable.
While 14-year-old girls pushed them to multi-platinum superstars, it seems Will.I.Am
and company are looking to give back to the Hip Hop heads who got down with
them in the first place. When I heard about their Renegotiations: The
Remixes EP I assumed it was the usual major label scam to squeeze out some
more dollars. Then I saw who was doing the remixes: DJ Premier, Pete Rock,
Large Professor, Erick Sermon and DJ Jazzy Jeff. What the fuck?
Likely four top ten of all time producers and a legendary DJ on board? Sounds
like it can’t miss.
Along with the 5 remixes are two tracks from Monkey Business, and
thankfully they are the only good songs from the album. The first is the
downright dope “Like That”
featuring none other than Q-Tip, Cee-Lo, Talib Kweli and John Legend.
The other is the funky little number “Audio
Delite.” The Green-Eyed Bandit Erick Sermon reworks “Ba Bump”, a song that originally just
tried way too hard and ended up being the musical equivalent of a pile of
refuse. E-Double’s trademark thumps easily save the song though, still
leaving it club ready. Pete Rock one-ups him though and takes the James
Brown-assisted “They Don’t Want
Music” and shows them what funk really is. For real, this joint is
straight up ridiculous.
The fun stops there though as Primo, Large Pro
and Jazzy Jeff don’t fare as well. It isn’t that they don’t bring the
goods with their production (well actually Extra P really doesn’t), it’s
that the songs they work with (“My Style,”
“Disco Club,” “Feel It,” respectively), are just too far gone to save.
No matter what beat you put behind those songs, the vocals, song structure and
hooks still ooze of sappy pop trash. Despite not being able to overcome
shortcomings that come via Monkey Business, this EP is dope in places
and is at least very respectable in its efforts. How about for next album they
just tap these guys for beats instead of remixes?