No one with any sense likes the Black Eyed Peas, but it's hard to argue that they haven't rendered the Fugees, one of the best-selling rap acts evar, more or less irrelevant. If they actually managed to finally release a follow-up to The Score this year, how many people do you think would actually buy it?

I'd say a million tops, even though their last album did Jagged Little Pill numbers. But who knows. You see what happened with that last OutKast album, and it's not like they were gone for that long. And you know how people from the South are about supporting artists recording careers.

It means a lot to them.

Meanwhile, it seems like the Black Eyed Peas have captured more or less everything about the Fugees that captivated white people in the first place: a girl singing; barely competent, if mostly discernable rapping from a guy with dredlocks; wanton repurposing of vaguely obscure pop records.

It's no wonder they've done so well.

And of course their main coup - a move so brilliant it almost seems too obvious - was bringing a white girl into the mix. I'm not saying any ol' shitty neo soul group could revive their career by recruiting a PT (pink toe) cruiser (The Roots would somehow manage to fuck it up). I'm just saying.

Still, Fergie, with her bullshit, can hardly be viewed as the next Lauryn Hill. While it's true that Ms. Hill herself was the auteur she'd have us believe (that bitch could hardly play guitar!), at least she could act the part convincingly. I'm sure a lot of people still think she'a a genius.

Enter Amy Winehouse. I'm not saying she's the second coming of anything in particular or the next whatever; shit, I've never even heard that Lauryn Hill album. But it's obvious to me that she's being put forth as something along those lines.

You may know her from that song "You Know I'm Good" from Ghostface's More Fish - the inclusion of which was such a genius bit of A&R fuckery, I'm almost certain Jay-Z wasn't involved. Or informed, for that matter.

Her album Back to Black, which was released in the UK last year, will be released here in March. I reviewed it on my own site the other day and found it to be the shit. If you liked that shit she did with Ghostface, you'll probably enjoy it.

As far as whatever pop potential she has, it's hard to say. She's pretty anorexic-looking, and she's got that "I don't look too feminine in the face" thing that affects a lot of Jewish women. But, as Samuel L. Jackson would say, she is white.

Will black people embrace her music the same way they have Spandau Ballet's "True" (what's with that, anyway)? I know I will!