Album: Black Eyed Peas

Monkey Business, A&M
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The Independent Culture

Despite the hubbub of voices on this follow-up to the hugely successful Elephunk, I came away with no clear idea of what the Black Eyed Peas are trying to get across with Monkey Business, nor, indeed, of their own musical character. This is partly due to the way they're held hostage by their choice of samples - like Puff Daddy, they prefer big, obvious borrowings from instantly recognisable sources, such as "Pass The Dutchie" and the Dick Dale recording of "Misirlou" popularised by Tarantino; they've even gone the full Puffy and built one track, "Union", around a Sting song ("Englishman In New York"). Without the core samples, their tracks tend to evaporate, despite the welter of "proper" instruments. But there's also what might be called, to borrow James Brown's term, the talking-loud-but-saying-nothing effect that happens when too many people chant too few slogans, with too little depth, too often. Behind the endless repetition of phrases such as "bump ya bump", "wassup with you girl?" and "pump it"

Despite the hubbub of voices on this follow-up to the hugely successful Elephunk, I came away with no clear idea of what the Black Eyed Peas are trying to get across with Monkey Business, nor, indeed, of their own musical character. This is partly due to the way they're held hostage by their choice of samples - like Puff Daddy, they prefer big, obvious borrowings from instantly recognisable sources, such as "Pass The Dutchie" and the Dick Dale recording of "Misirlou" popularised by Tarantino; they've even gone the full Puffy and built one track, "Union", around a Sting song ("Englishman In New York"). Without the core samples, their tracks tend to evaporate, despite the welter of "proper" instruments. But there's also what might be called, to borrow James Brown's term, the talking-loud-but-saying-nothing effect that happens when too many people chant too few slogans, with too little depth, too often. Behind the endless repetition of phrases such as "bump ya bump", "wassup with you girl?" and "pump it" can occasionally be glimpsed a thoughtful reflection, most notably on the anti-materialist "Gone Going" and the apologetic "Don't Lie"; but they're just swamped by all the stupid-ass soundbites.James Brown's complaint on "They Don't Want Music" ("they just want boom, boom, boom") is all too applicable to the Peas.

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