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Following a mixed response to installments by Jay Dee and Pete Rock, Volume 3 of The Beat Generation series sees Will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas fame taking the control of the boards. Lost Change follows a similar pattern to BEP releases – succeeding in similar areas and falling prey to the same flaws. At his best, Will.i.am creates succulent beds of funky, layered and laid-back rhythms. "Lay Me Down," featuring Terry Dexter is a soulful, jazz inflected R&B excursion, complete with D’Angelo style-keyboard noodlings and Dexter’s enticing vocals providing the perfect accessory. However, just as Bridging The Gap sometimes staggered under the weight of its own funk, so does Lost Change. Someone please introduce Will to a nice crisp snare, because tracks like "If You Didn’t Know" are drained of energy by a murky funk beat mired in a swamp of bass sounds and the sputtering beat of "Hooda Hella Yew" does nothing to complement Medusa’s usually forceful flow. "I Am" showcases perfectly where Will’s own vocals fall short. His nursery-style rhymes and hooks fail to arrest attention. Although the guest stars do provide some variety, as with many producer driven projects there is little here to convert the non-believers.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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