October 4, 2007

Record Review: will.i.am

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In his third solo effort, Songs About Girls, will.i.am gives us exactly what we have come to expect from the Black Eyed Peas front man. Unfortunately, that’s all he gives us.
As an individual entity, each funk infused and musically solid track is a treat for the ears. But after more than a dozen of these songs, listeners will find themselves searching for the light at the end of the tunnel.
Following this theme of consistency (to put it nicely), every song on Songs About Girls, with the exception of the album’s finale, is about — you guessed it — girls. Again, while a song about love and relationships is always nice, fifteen on one album is pushing it. The saying “too much of a good thing” comes to mind. The problem is that every track is just good. With no standout, great songs, the album suffers from lack of versatility.
Another problem with this album is that it sounds too much like the Black Eyed Peas, but without the diversity that the other three Peas add to the pod. The similarity in sound between the work of the Black Eyed Peas and that of a solo will.i.am has listeners expecting the high-energy funk party that comes with each BEP song. On his own, however, will.i.am simply cannot reach that level of fun and intensity.
While I wouldn’t recommend listening to the album in its entirety, there are a few songs that are certainly worth a spin or two. The best song on the album is “I Got It From My Mama,” which wins the album’s Most Black Eyed Peas-like award. The song was released this summer as the album’s first single, and with good reason. The sing along lyrics start right from the beginning with “Ladies… L-L-Ladies,” and the trend continues as will.i.am had me singing the infectious chorus (yes, even the girl’s vocals).
Another highlight is the record’s closing track, “S.O.S. (Mother Nature).” In an emotional plea for people to care for the environment, will claims “We got a new terror threat, / it’s called the weather.” As will.i.am describes the state of our environment, the history behind it and what he sees in the future, it becomes clear how much this song means to him. He puts a piece of himself in this song that is not in any of the previous tracks.
The rock-like drum fills of “Fly Girl” veer off the songs’ path just enough to grab your attention — making it sound as if a live drummer is playing. The fills add a little spice to an otherwise bland recipe.
The brassy trumpet stabs and slightly distorted vocals of the all too fittingly titled “Make It Funky” create nice effects as well.
The latest album from this individual Black Eyed Pea makes me yearn for the rest of the pod. Songs About Girls is evidence that will.i.am simply does not have the magic on his own. He’s known for pumping out certified hits when he’s producing for other top emcees, and the Black Eyed Peas definitely know how to put bodies in motion, but will’s solo act needs some work.