Will.i.am‘s fourth studio album #willpower drops on April 23 (hashtag willpower!), and the rapper-producer has posted the album in its entirety as song streams on his YouTube channel, which is great news for people curious to see how Will has managed to take excellent hooks from huge artists and vitiate them with insipid, meaningless lyrics and paint-by-numbers production.
(Okay. Maybe that’s not entirely fair. But man, isn’t it frustrating to get all excited about new songs from Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus and then have them disappoint so thoroughly?)
Aside from the tracks we’ve already heard (Britney, Miley, Justin), the album has plenty of production flourishes that are actually very exciting (the strings throughout are a nice touch) and a roster of talented collaborators that’s pretty much unmatched, but somehow, most of it has a way of sounding like Variations On “I Gotta Feeling,” and the exceptional moments are matched by offensively bad ones. The hook on the Nicole Scherzinger-assisted “Far Away From Home” is as soaring and potent as its verses are ham-fisted and embarrassing; meanwhile, the Juicy J collab “Freshy” apes Kanye West and Jay-Z‘s “Paris” so shamelessly it should be a crime, even though it’s one of the best things on the album. Most maddeningly, “Take The World On,” his pleasingly massive track with K-pop group 2NE1, doesn’t make the cut here, probably because he didn’t feature prominently enough on it.
Will.i.am: Still like your creepy old uncle trying (and failing) to sound hip as he talks over otherwise-great songs, still demolishing radio with unprecedented ease. Listen to the album in full on Will’s YouTube channel.