The Black Eyed Peas dropped a brand new song and video off at Apple Music yesterday on the occasion of their twentieth anniversary. "Yesterday" is their first new music in five years; they took a long hiatus after 2010's The Beginning sold less than a third as many copies as 2009's The E.N.D. It's pedestrian, a string of lines cribbed from timeless rap singles interwoven with hollow promises to "take it back to yesterday" over a beat that sounds very much like today. The video plugs the group into the covers of classic hip-hop albums as they pick them up in a record store, a concept Erykah Badu already perfected in 2008 with "Honey" for a song that sounds like it's trying to catch some of the sparks given off from Lil Mama's goofy, viral "Sausage." (Update: Erykah is unimpressed and unbothered.) It's cleanly shot, but there's certain shit you shouldn't touch when you're the dudes responsible for "My Humps" and "I Gotta Feeling." Did you ever think you'd live to see will.i.am's face on a Public Enemy cover? We have to talk, because... nope.
All photos are screenshots from the video.
Where is Fergie? Is she not involved because they're going '95 lineup on us, and she didn't join til '02? Did she quit? Wasn't she supposed to drop an album like a year ago? How wide is the lane for white lady sing-rap since we got Iggy the fuck up out of here? Why is will.i.am dressed like an afrocentric Statue of Liberty?
This isn't so bad. The play on Black Sheep's A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing works nicely with the Black Eyed Peas' name, if literally nothing else.
Will raps the classic "We be to rap what key be to lock" line from "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)" leering out of this mockup of Digable Planets' Reachin (A New Refutation of Time and Space), but really, he be to rap what brie be to block, cause this shit is getting cheesy.
Will wanting to pay homage to De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising and A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario" makes sense if you've heard BEP's actually-solid first two albums, Behind the Front and Bridging the Gap, which can best be described in retrospect as capable Native Tongues fanfic.
What we're not gonna do, though, is invoke Pete Rock and CL Smooth's "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)" in this. Who gave this the OK? Pete didn't even pretend to like when Lupe Fiasco paid it tribute. Will greasing wheels?
Set aside the gall of this dude mugging on ODB's legendary welfare card cover for Return to the 36 Chambers (The Dirty Version) for a second, and let's talk spelling. "Coming to you collage and... disco dorm"??? May the ghost of Russell Jones haunt you all your days.
Nothing unique about these styles. Speaking of which, is it even possible to make money off this thing when an entire confederation of '88 - '95 rap stars is owed a cowrite?
Public Enemy's Nation of Millions? Neither in this life, nor the next could BEP possibly ever.
You're just gonna plaster yourself on the cover of Straight Outta Compton when JJ Fad's Supersonic is right there, and that's who you sound like?
Put it down put it down put it down...
Oh, fuck you guys. Who asked for this? Who?
They're painting themselves in a conceptual corner following up The E.N.D and The Beginning with Origins. There's nowhere to go after that. Remember when Busta Rhymes themed all his 90s albums around the world ending in the year 2000, but then it hella didn't, and he had to follow up Anarchy with Genesis? That was weird.
Craig wishes he could tell his teen self to leave "Joints and Jams" alone. Follow him on Twitter.