• Pop Vicious

Monkey Business: Before BEP Had E-G-O

written by: on March 2, 2012

By 2005, The Black Eyed Peas had established themselves as one of the most original hip-hop groups of their time. Riding the high from the “Where Is the Love” and “Shut Up” success on the Elephunk album, the general public was ready for Monkey Business.

The album remains BEP’s greatest artistic and commercial success to date, standing as the most original and the most exceptional contributions to pop music the band has ever produced. It succeeded in pushing the envelope just enough to get people’s attention, but not so much as to piss off an audience and turn them away. It was the right balance of naughty yet reserved as well as atypical yet classic.

Admittedly, the bulk of the album was kind of crappy, mainly because filler songs like “Audio Delite at Low Fidelity” and “Bebot” faltered under the shadow of popular singles such as “Don’t Phunk With My Heart” and “My Humps.” Don’t forget about the recurring appearances of randomly placed guests like James Brown and Sting.

But each hit that came from Monkey Business was solid. “Don’t Phunk With My Heart” raced to the top of the charts with charging devotion to innovative hip-hop. It incorporated pop vocals in tandem with the wit of some spitting hip-hoppers in order to create an extremely catchy jam.

That wasn’t the only hit, either. “My Humps” broke down into a more sultry mix, heavy on the sex but still emphasizing the satire in their tones. The Black Eyed Peas didn’t take themselves too seriously back in 2005, which was all right, since their music remained sincere and dignified. “Don’t Lie” and “Pump It” also rode along crazy-bountiful beats that had never been produced before.

So what the hell happened?

Following Monkey Business and dominating the world with their rhymes and rhythms, the band’s style transformed itself a bit. What used to be intriguing spins on the pop scene that really had no comparison turned into the slow pitfall of a more conforming addition to the contemporary music scene. The Black Eyed Peas bucked under the pressure of producing greatness instead of furthering their development as artists.

The E.N.D. and later The Beginning were both caught in a fog between under- and over-conceptualized pieces of work. They just didn’t make sense, between the futuristic mixes and a move toward electronic dance-pop that really didn’t sound good.

2009’s “Boom Boom Pow” was the first sound fans heard since back in 2005 when the energizing “Pump It” made its rounds. This is where the group started taking themselves too seriously. Its new style was electronic and dipped in chrome­, but a fresh look wasn’t what the band needed. The Black Eyed Peas traded what was already an unique take on art and compromised their one-of-a-kind sounds for more materialistic, common compilations. They even fell under the much-disgraced ways of auto-tuning, which was completely barbaric because one would think that with a band of four people, there would be at least one decent voice that doesn’t require correction software.

Much of the new material, aside from the terribly addictive “I Gotta Feeling,” failed dishonorably. A humiliatingly over-ambitious Superbowl XLV halftime performance didn’t help their cause, either. Electronic displays and indulgent theatrics detracted from the wonder of their captivating music. Their set list was heavy on the more recent junk and gave little homage to what made them special. Last year, BLP personally placed their own stamp on the downward spiral of their careers.

The Black Eyed Peas had lost their allure, and once they had completed touring, it seems they had finished generating steam for their latest work. It was time for BEP to throw in the towel for the time being.

This isn’t to say that their music can’t be saved. Fans are automatically guaranteed a full-blown comeback within five to 10 years of their hiatus. It’s just to say that the announcement of the group’s break was the smartest decision of the era. It put the music on hold temporarily but not indefinitely, promising that with a bit of time to regroup, the BEP can return to what made them initially wondrous.