The leader of the Black Eyed Peas and a sought-after producer for everyone from Mary J. Blige to Justin Timberlake, will.i.am has been the mastermind behind some maddeningly catchy tunes. ("My Humps," anyone?) Given those credentials, this solo disc—a loose concept album based on a past relationship—comes as a letdown. Only a serviceable rapper and a decidedly lesser singer, Will just never seems comfortable hogging the spotlight. (Clearly there is a reason why the Peas took off once Fergie joined the group.) And instead of working his A-list connections to show off his collaborative skills, he only recruits one major guest (Snoop Dogg on "The Donque Song"). Despite its problems, Songs has its moments—the hypnotic "Heartbreaker," the island-flavored "One More Chance," the Peas-style "Make It Funky"—where Will's gift for hooks overrides everything.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Fantastic," a breezy, Jackson 5-sampling ditty
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