Behind the Front
Before they became worldwide pop sensations, the Black Eyed Peas stood alongside Talib Kweli, Mos Def and Jurassic 5 as pillars of a new-school revival of old-school hip-hop values. Like its contemporaneous peer albums Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star and Jurassic 5 LP, Behind the Front reproves the day’s glossy computerized productions in favor of a return to the rotund jazz and soul samples of A Tribe Called Quest. “What It Is,” “Duet” and “The Way U Make Me Feel” embrace the vintage sounds of Rhodes keyboard, trap drums, and upright bass. “Karma” subtly incorporates a slowed-down salsa rhythm, while “Joints & Jam” exudes the enthusiasm of late-‘70s New York party rap. Behind the Front disdains corporate and criminal influences on rap music. As the group states in “Fallin’ Up”: “I see you try to diss our function by stating that we can't rap / Is it cause we don't wear Tommy Hilfiger or baseball caps / We don't use dollars to represent / We just use our inner sense and talent.” The disco beat of “Be Free” hints at the Peas’ future, but the rest of Behind the Front encapsulates the beginning of the group’s ethos.