Since when did will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas become the go-to producer for so many ostensibly hardcore rappers? Last year alone he contributed tracks to three of the year’s most highly anticipated rap albums – Busta Rhymes’ The Big Bang, The Game’s Doctor’s Advocate, and Nas’ Hip-Hop Is Dead. Who knows what he’s got in store for 2007.
What’s even more bizarre is that DJ Premier, one of the consensus best producers evar, especially when it comes to hardcore hip-hop shit, hasn’t had a beat on a prominent rap album in a minute. (Unless I’m forgetting something.) If it wasn’t for Christina Aguilera – clearly God’s gift to humanity – he might be back working at UPS or some such.
I think it’s pretty obvious what’s going on here. The Black Eyed Peas sold several gozillion copies of both 2003′s god-awful Elephunk and 2005′s god-awful Monkey Business, if not last year’s Fergie solo album. Meanwhile, who else in hip-hop’s career has been doing nearly as well. Nas, Busta, and the Game were all at fairly tenuous points in their careers in 2006.
And I say this because I can’t imagine any of them (not even Nas) sitting around the listening to “Let’s Get Retarded in Here” and thinking, “Wow, that’s exactly the sound I’m looking for my next album!” Presumably, if the Kevin Federline album had gone triple (which is the new diamond), every rapper would be clamoring to get him on their next project.
Here’s the thing: I don’t know that anything will.i.am did last year production-wise was especially successful either creatively or commercially. The track he did on the Game album was a decent enough ’80s-era Dre knock-off, but it wasn’t a single, and probably couldn’t be, which makes you wonder how it came about in the first place.
“I Love My Chick” from the Busta Rhymes album and the title track from Hip-Hop Is Dead were his two most prominent rap singles released last year, and neither of them really did anything – er, at least they weren’t nearly as popular as the crap he’s done with the Black Eyed Peas. Plus I don’t know anyone who’s that crazy about either of them.
As such, it’ll be interesting to see what the new year has in store for will.i.am. My guess is that not as many rappers will be returning his phone calls, but what do I know? Supposedly he’s got a solo album coming out; will it be as huge as his work with the Black Eyed Peas, or will it be a huge embarrassing failure like the various Pharrell Williams side projects?