Review: Black Eyed Peas’ ‘Translation’ Is A Dose Of Reggaeton Magic

The Black Eyed Peas have just dropped their brand new album, Translation. This is the band’s eighth studio album via RCA Records; a 15-track, melting pot of reggaeton, pop & dance, and a lyrical mix of English and Spanish. Collaborations stem from some of Latin America’s finest artists, including J Balvin, Shakira, and Becky G, to name a few. The album also features appearances from hip-hop’s Tyga & French Montana, and a number of music samples plucked right from the heydays of the late-80’s dance raves.

Translation serves as a vibrant vessel, further propelling the rise of Latin pop into the mainstream and has all the right ingredients for multiple summer hits to last us right into next year (hopefully a summer post-COVID-19). After an exclusive sneak peek of the album, each track is reviewed below with a playlist of the full album.

1. Ritmo (Bad Boys for Life) with J Balvin

One of many upbeat tracks on this album, Ritmo breaks history as the Black Eyed Peas’ most-streamed song and most-viewed video ever. Released in Oct 2019 as the lead single for the Bad Boys For Life film soundtrack, the song features Colombian singer, J Balvin. Ritmo also samples Corona’s song, Rhythm of the Night; transforming an 80’s dance classic into a futuristic reggaeton hit.

2. Feel The Beat with Maluma

Up there as one of this year’s summer anthems, Feel The Beat opens up with a sample from Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam’s Can You Feel The Beat. The chorus is a call and response between Will.i.am and Lisa Lisa’s sampled line. The Black Eyed Peas collaborate with Colombian singer-songwriter, Maluma, who smoothly layers his vocals over an exciting, rhythmic bassline, as it fades into the next track, Mamacita.

3. Mamacita with Ozuna & J. Rey Soul

With it’s repetitious, catchy lyrics and beat, Mamacita is full of sonic texture; one of those songs that simply make you want to get up and dance. Ozuna’s bars flow over a reggaeton heavy-beat, coupled with the vocals of J. Rey Soul (Black Eyed Peas’ newest band member). At times through the song, Soul’s vocals can easily be mistaken for Fergie’s, however, she holds her own.

4. Girl Like Me with Shakira

Shakira is back and lends her vocals on Girl Like Me; one of the favourites on this album. Carried by an up-tempo clapping from an array of percussion instruments used in Latin music, lyrical references are made to Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie: ‘So they tell me you’re looking for a girl like me’ ⁠—the answer is yes, as the male members of the Black Eyed Peas declare their love for all Latina women on the track.

5. Vida Loca with Nicky Jam & Tyga

Perfectly sampling MC Hammer’s Can’t Touch This, Vida Loca provides another classic throwback. Nicky Jam and Rapper Tyga are also fire on this track.

6. No Mañana with El Alfa

This track is a slow burner, but luckily, Dominican rapper/singer, El Alfa, injects life back into this song. The Black Eyed Peas’ infuse their love for futuristic sonic sounds, with Latin trap influences and hints of British rap, creating a fresh sound. El Alfa is a hidden gem on this record and has worked with Cardi B and Bad Bunny already; a perfect addition to the power line-ups of features on this album.

7. Tonta Love with J. Rey Soul

Tonta is one of the sonically minimal songs of the album as it opens up with J. Rey Soul’s powerful vocals.

8. Celebrate

The production on Celebrate is definitely a celebration with its funhouse horns and is well on its way to being a carnival hit. However, a verse from the likes of Cardi B or Natti Natasha would have been the icing on the cake, as it misses a certain something.

9. Todo Bueno with Piso 21

We are back on track with Todo Bueno, which offers a more mellowed, easy-listening alternative to its beat-heavy, 24-hour party counterparts. Todo Bueno (all good), is exactly how this track leaves you feeling. The Black Eyed Peas have really come into their own on this chill-out beach song.

10. Duro Hard with Becky G

With steamy lyrics like ‘duro’ & ‘get a little hot when you’re close to me’, the Black Eyed Peas go down a cheeky road of lyrical twists and puns. Combined with Becky G’s sultry vocals, this banger is sure to fill the dance floor.

11. Mabuti with French Montana

Each verse from the Black Eyed Peas has room to breathe, whilst the beat takes a back seat. ‘Hola, Hola, Ay!’ will be in your head for days whilst listening to this collaboration with French Montana.

12. I Woke Up

I Woke Up is one of those end-of-night 3am tracks, where no-one wants to leave the dance floor. Will.i.am goes hard on this track, with a nonchalant flow on this chilled number.

13. Get Loose Now

With lyrics like ‘boom bang’, Get Loose Now seems to be an ad-libbed filler track. But never-the-less, it opens up with powerful horns and a hard-hitting bassline, which later infuses a steady rhythm of castanets and a sample of hip-hop’s iconic, It Takes Two, by duo Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock. This track leaves you wanting more.

14. Action

Taboo, Will.i.am and Apl.de.ap are the holy trinity in their lyrical element. Will.i.am kicks off the track trap-scatting, reminiscent of Kanye West’s nonsensical, gun noises on KIDS SEE GHOSTS’ Feel The Love. All elements of this song demand attention as the trio call for ‘Action’ over a staccato beat and delivery of lyrics.

15. News Today

News Today is the closing track on Translation and provides the listener with more substance in content. Throughout the track, the Black Eyed Peas discuss everything happening today in relation to COVID-19; 2020’s answer to their 2003 hit song, Where Is The Love.

Final Words: Translation is a Summer bop!

Album Rating: 9/10


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