Artist: Black Eyed PeasTitle: ElephunkRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Toshi Kondo

Since the Black Eyed Peas (BEP)’s debut Behind The Front, they have attempted to stretch the boundaries of creativity while embodying hip-hop’s classic elements. This is evident through collaborations with everyone from Macy Gray to DJ Premier. On their first two albums, BEP displayed the ability to make light-hearted material that also offered substance. However, Elephunk finds them shifting heavily in favor of more party-oriented material that may not be well received.

Don’t get me wrong; this album does have redeeming qualities. In the past BEP spoke out against the stale ostentatious lyrics saturating FM dials. This time around they make a more implicit statement with an album focusing on enjoying life and having fun. It is an easy listen and many of Will.I.Am’s beats have the feel of an impromptu jam session of talented musicians.

The latest incarnation of BEP finds them adding a female member Fergie, which brings uneven results. Her talent and strong voice are apparent on the oneiric “Fly Away”, where she laments in a mature manner about the unfortunate demise of a relationship. However, featuring her on such a large majority of the tracks seems like an unnecessary ploy to make the listener aware of her presence. It also gives many of the tracks a very homogenous and indistinguishable feel.

Another complaint with the album would have to be the abundance of elementary and aimless lyrics on tracks such as “Let’s Get Retarded” and “Hey Mama”. On “Sexy”, Will.I.Am makes a very strong early push for the Wackest Line Of The Year award with the gem “I ain’t trying to rush nuthin/ cause I ain’t Russian”. Doesn’t he realize last year’s winner Nelly used the same rhyme?

By the end of the album when BEP attempts to appease those crying for more substance with “Anxiety” and “Where’s The Love”, the tracks protrude from the vibe cultivated by the rest of the album. The latter is an interesting collaboration with Justin Timberlake that finds BEP lobbying for the idea of using love to overcome the numerous problems of the world we live in.

BEP fans will look at this album with ambivalence. The group must be held in esteem for their sincere attempt to inject some fun into hip-hop in between all the hardcore posturing that our ears are flooded with. However, Elephunk disappoints because of sloppy execution and uninspired concepts.