Lost Change
Record label: BBE (UK)
Format: 2xLP/CD
Release date: 2 October 2001

As popular as the Black Eyed Peas have gotten, there's been a large backlash against them as well. Their crime against humanity: not being "hard" enough. Others hate on them for their rhyming abilities (or lack thereof, as the haters see it). Will.I.Am. could change all that. Lost Change is his solo debut, a soundtrack for a Web-exclusive film sponsored by Levi's Silvertab. Comparisons to Spitkickers wouldn't be too far off: Will's rhyme tone echoes Talib Kweli's on a few cuts ("Money," "If You Don't Know") and his vocal harmonies reveal shades of Mos Def ("Possessions"). His production skills, though, are growing at an alarming rate. It might be considered sacrilege to say it, but this is what I expected of Hi-Tek's solo joint and didn't get.

Lost Change is a brilliantly infectious mix of hip-hop, jazz, and soul. The live instrumentation brings this album to full bloom (much props to the session musicians) and Will himself can be found on Hammond organ, kalimba, keyboards, and drum programming. "Lay Me Down" gets my vote for joint of the year; laid back enough for summertime, but Terry Dexter's vocals will keep you warm during the cold season. Serious guest spitters include Planet Asia on the opening "Ev Rebahdee" and Medusa on "Hooda Hella Yew." (Jean Grae needs to do a cut with her…I would be too through…) And if Madd Dogg on "Em Ay Double Dee" is the same cat from Tricky's Juxtapose, respect. Either way, he comes off on that track and Will blessed him with a fat ass beat. Also, don't be surprised to hear the anthemic "I Am" blasting out of speeding cars. That joint is hot and totally establishes Will as an individual artist. If this is any indication of what the next few years of hip-hop and soul can bring under Will's direction…damn. To miss this album is to miss a part of an urban musical renaissance - FOR REAL.

{chloe knuckles}

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