Bridging The Gap
Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio Black Eyed Peas is the unofficial West Coast franchise of the East Coast's iconic Native Tongues collective. Part of their hometown appeal lies in West Coast heads' desperation to show the world that not all Left Coast rap devotees are 'bout blingin', bangin' and bitches: Garbed in boho gear, comprised of various races and stressing positivity, the trio is a pointed anecdote to gangsta and ghetto fabulousness. Where their 1998 debut, Behind the Front (which produced the irresistible club hit, "Joints and Jams"), was a little too slickly produced, their follow-up is a more organic-feeling representation of their considerable skills and vision. Uncluttered but muscular production, deft samples and smart rhymes all ensure that the album's power increases with repeated listenings. Standout tracks include "On My Own," with cameos by Mos Def and Les Nubians, and "Weekend," which folds Debbie Deb's old-school Latin freestyle hit, "Lookout Weekend," into Sly and the Family Stone's "Family Affair" for a smoky party groove.