Label: A&M Records
3 out of 5 stars
By Norman Mayers
Stacy Ferguson aka Fergie has had a long, hard journey to get to this point. She appeared on the cheesy 80s show, Kids Incorporated before becoming a part of the girl group Wild Orchid. But it was her addition to the lineup of stagnant hip-hop group the Black Eyed Peas that made her a star, transforming the group into a Grammy-winning, multi-platinum monster. Hate her or love her, Fergie's strong voice, multi-cultural look, and vibrant energy made all the difference for the Peas, so it was inevitable that she would release a solo project. With last summer's major hit "My Humps", Fergie established herself as a ghetto diva that kicks old school rhymes and loves teasing men with her banging body. With "The Dutchess" Fergie attempts to broaden her sound into various genres, but her attitude and style is truly best suited to playful teases.
Despite the fact that "My Humps" was a massive hit there are plenty of those who hate it. I, for one, am a fan of its throwaway charms. It was meant to be a playful homage to old school female raps and electro bass conventions. So it is no surprise that what works best on "The Dutchess" are the tracks with uptempo 808 beats and silly throwaway rhymes. Tracks such as "Fergalicious" and "Here I Come" are fun and flirty and contain silly lines like "My body stays vicious/ I be up in the gym/Just working on my fitness." But they work because of the dancefloor productions that not only reference 80s hip-hop but 60s Motown sounds as well. The album's highpoints are the bombastic first single "London Bridge" and the brilliant "Clumsy", which contains a Little Richard sample over some blippy beats. When the album strays into other territories things sometimes fall apart such as on the cheesy ballad "Finally" and the even cheesier "All That I Got (The Make Up Song)". There are some successful attempts at depth as on the ska-flavored "Voodoo Doll", which frankly deals with Fergie's much publicized drug addiction and on the sexy R&B of "Velvet".
Fergie is definitely talented enough to compete with the likes of Gwen Stefani and Christina Aguilera but the material on The Dutchess simply isn't strong enough for her to reach those heights on her first solo effort. With some more time in the studio, Fergie is bound to truly shine.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006