Like a tub of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, 'Behind The Front' is karma-friendly, a bit goofy and made by hippies. And it can induce a headache....

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Cypress Hill IV

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Cypress Hill IV

LIKE A TUB OF BEN & JERRY’S ICE CREAM, ‘Behind The Front’ is karma-friendly, a bit goofy and made by hippies. And it can induce a headache.

LA hip-hop trio Black Eyed Peas present an alternative to the bucks’n’bitches bravado of their rap contemporaries: [I]”We don’t use dollars to represent/We just use our innocence and talent” [/I]- that’s them. Expressed upfront and soundtracked by sharp beats and the jazzy purr of guitars it can prove a refreshing testimonial. But too often this wilfully separatist stance leads to lyrical vapidity and musical blandness, as in ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’, which is as tongue-in-ear cringy as its title suggests. The glut of preachy aphorisms wailed by numerous interchangeable guest vocalists is enough to give anyone a bastard behind the eyes.

If those too-tasteful R&B workouts are used to prove that the Peas can do Babyface [I]and[/I] A Tribe Called Quest, ultimately it’s a show of ersatz sophistication that weakens the impact of more challenging grooves. ‘Que Dices?’ is spooky in a Fagin-from-[I]Oliver Twist[/I] style, all skulking beats and oppressive vocals. ‘Be Free’, with its electro rhythm and ’80s arcade-machine sound effects, is like the theme tune to a hip-hop version of [I]Tron[/I]. It’s a shame, then, that this inspired mix-up of styles is spread too thinly over an excessive 70 minutes.

No funky cold Medina, then. But not quite cheesy Peas, either.