Thu. Feb 2nd, 2023

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Album Review: Black Eyed Peas – Elevation

3 min read

Oh dear, oh dear – how the mighty have fallen. For the most of the 2010s, Black Eyed Peas largely rested their hip-hop legacy built in the late 2000s, aided by Fergie as lead vocalist. After her departure, the group remained with its three original members – will.i.am, Aple.de.ap and Taboo…eventually forming a quartet with singer J.Rey Soul. The Peas returned after an eight-year break in 2018 with Masters of the Sun Vol.1, and followed it with their 2020 album Translation – a project featuring Hispanic stars Shakira, Maluma, Ozuna, Nicky Jam and Becky G.

Elevation, their ninth studio album, comprises 15 tracks featuring guest appearances from Anitta, El Alfa, Anuel AA, Marshall Jefferson, J. Rey Soul, Daddy Yankee, Nicky Jam, Nicole Scherzinger, Shakira, David Guetta and Ozuna. With a strong line up like this, you’d expect some fiery, hip-shaking reggaeton/Latin-pop bangers. Alas, prepared to be very, very disappointed – as this is so hilariously bad you’d think it was one big prank. Every song on Elevation has the recipe to be a filler, take for starters, Muevelo (feat Anuel AA, Marshall Jefferson) Audios, and Bailar Contigo (feat Daddy Yankee), which sound like they were churned out of a bland reggaeton-hit factory. Meanwhile, others are just…plain weird. For example, Don’t You Worry – a dumbed-down pop version of Bob Marley & the Wailers’ Three Little Birds –  is so terrible you’re left wondering how much money legends Shakira and David Guetta must have been offered to feature. Hold on though, it does get worse…

Take one single, Double D’z (feat J.Rey Soul), an unnecessary sequel to the Fergie’s 2005 hit My Humps. Opening with a crass line delivered by the almost 50-years-old will.i.am: ‘Holy f***, holy f*** f*** f***, that body of yours is absurd … may need to see the booty, make it twerk’ – it certainly is…classy. Moving forward into the chorus, the singer repeats the word ‘double’ precisely 21 times, before finally putting us out of our misery and landing on ‘D’z’. Clearly, The Peas have no concerns about lyrical depth. In fairness though, underpinning the track is a slightly interesting looped East Asian-sounding motif. But even this begins to get annoying after 3 minutes 20 seconds of no musical development…yawnsville.

Next up is Jump, a song that begins with the seminal robotic Tik-Tok ‘text to speech’ voice, announcing ‘somebody said when you play this song all the girls will go loca’, followed by ridiculous high-pitched screams. It is very obviously a song manufactured to get social media streams, with sporadic beginner Spanish words from will.i.am – another hackneyed attempt at creating authentic Latin music. Underpinning the song is, again, the blandest house drum beat…so basic you could have sworn a 15-year-old experimenting with Garageband made this.

Another lowlight is In The Air, built entirely around a sample of their own 2009 hit Boom Boom Pow – another Fergie-centred banger (do you notice a theme?). This electro-pop car crash repeats her ‘put your hands up in the air’ line over and over to the point of exhaustion. Ok, it’s reasonably decent as a dance track, but painfully highlights a lack of musical direction. Tracks like In The Air remind us that there is so much truth in the phrase ‘quit while you’re ahead’.

‘Black Eyed Peas is known for elevation’, raps will.i.am at the end of another single Get Down (feat Nicky Jam) – a puzzling statement, as the only thing they raised here is the bar for an album to be worse than this one….although that would be tough.