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Nostalgia for Elephunk

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If we’re honest with ourselves, we never really got over the masterpiece that is The Black Eyed Peas’ Elephunk. The 2013 release is a party-ready fusion of hip hop, rap and funk with too many elements to count. Each of the 17 tracks on the album has a unique sound and is as difficult to sit still to as the one before.

As you may recall, the production on Elephunk is consistently impeccable. Today’s listeners may find themselves feeling a mixture of nostalgia and fresh appreciation for both the originality and the execution of the album. The album is primarily rhythm driven and makes liberal use of the bass, saxophone and trumpet. The Black Eyed Peas take advantage of a regular drum kit as well as the congas and shaker to create a distinct Latin or Cuban sound. The guitar, flute and piano contribute to the fullness of the sound.

The four members of The Black Eyed Peas sing and rap on Elephunk, with Will.i.am producing and engineering the tracks. The APL Song is engineered and written by Apl.de.ap. Each track has a team behind its creation, ranging from backup singers to trombone and horn players. Collaborations with Justin Timberlake and Papa Roach are some of the high points of the album. This vast combination of elements makes for a varied album with a range of emotions. From the dance-inducing “Labor Day (Hands Up)” and “Hey Mama” to the sorrowful “Fly Away” and “Anxiety” which is reminiscent of Linkin Park.

Elephunk is the first album that included now permanent member of the band, Fergie. Upon creating the track, “Shut Up”, the existing three members of the band decided that a female singer would enhance the track. The album is the third release the Black Eyed Peas shared with us, and it may be argued that it is the best. Fergie’s vocal adds fullness to the existing sound and creates a unique element that is difficult to recreate. It is difficult to imagine the record without her.

It appears that salsa, funk, rap and pop make for a stellar combination when executed by the right people. There has not been an album quite like Elephunk before or since its release in the early 2000’s. The Peas’ 2005 offering, Monkey Business, is equally fun to listen to, but didn’t quite reach the same level of musical depth as its predecessor. The way that the group have adjusted to the changing times shows that they are as excellent at understanding their market as they are at producing high quality music. However, it would be wonderful to see the Peas returning to their roots and releasing an album that is as thoughtful and thorough as Elephunk. I for one, have my fingers crossed.

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