Hip hop producer Will.I.Am is on the pulse of what's hip and happening. Not only did he turn the Black Eyed Peas and Fergie into huge global brands, he also helped to shape the sound of countless others artists including John Legend, Pussycat Dolls and Mary J Blige.
His third solo album "Songs About Girls" is a good example of his eclectic musical taste and his knack for working the studio soundboards. The record is a refined blend of pop and hip hop with touches of rock, electronica and even bossa nova. That's hardly surprising. It comes from a man who adores Sergio Mendes, wears Burberry ivys and wrote "My Humps," so you know that you can expect something that doesn't just fit one particular mold.
Hip hop has always been a producer's medium and Will.I.Am takes full advantage of that by cutting 'n pasting genres, alternating groove tempos and adding lots of bells and whistles. But it is never too brash or over the top. He practiced enough restrain to ready his music for mass consumption while still being musically adventurous.
Recorded in the United States and Brazil, the album deals with "the girls" that inspired him over the last few years ranging from the ladies that raised him, dated him, flirted with him and broke up with him.
He keeps his rapping to a minimum and talk-sings his way through the album. Don't expect any cameos from Fergie, Nelly Furtado or Justin Timbaland on this record. "Songs About Girls" is not a big star affair. It is all Will.I.Am with the exception of Snoop Dogg who gets a few lines on "The Donque Song."
Highlights include the mellow electro-funk of "Invisible," the bouncy "Get Your Money" and the sun-baked, Daft Punk-esque "Impatient." He even includes soaring rock guitars on "Dynamic Interlude" that is reminiscent of Prince's sound in the '80s. The single "I Got It From My Mama" is the only track that mimics the sound of the Black Eyes Peas with a snappy guitar bit and female vocals. Will.I.Am even craftfully includes a sample of Electric Light Orchestra's "It's Over" on the soulful album opener "Over"
Will.I.am's "Songs For Mama" is easily one of the best pop records of the year with a compelling sound that is both hit-worthy and innovative.
(Click here watch an EPK interview with Will.I.Am on which he talks about the making of the record.)