Spun: Sergio Mendes

By Hoang-Mai Hong

Legendary Brazilian pianist Sergio Mendes’ new record, produced by Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, is a decent album of well done fusion hip-hop/R&B/bossa nova suspended be- tween another BEP record.

Ripping on the Black Eyed Peas is easy, but they just don’t really fit here. Their tracks here are indeed danceable, catchy, and make you shake your ass, but isn’t bossa nova supposed to be more subtle, seducing you into gradually shedding your clothes? Instead, Will.i.am shouts at you to take them off, backed by heavy beats on “That Heat.” Another low-light is the BEP collaboration on “Mas Que Nada.” The song sounds too much like part two of “Hey Mama.” The Black Eyed Peas’ contributions are simply too brash for what is supposed to be sexy, smooth music.

On to the good stuff, which is really very good. The other collaborators on this record are credible musicians and artists who do bossa nova right, such as Q-Tip, India.Arie, Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, Jurassic 5, Jill Scott and John Legend. Legend’s “Please Baby, Don’t” is especially wonderful, with his smooth, seductive vocals and tinkling piano to accompany Mendes’ own.

Apart from the direct BEP collaborations, taking over Mendes’ hugely deserved spotlight, the album succeeds in similar ways to Carlos Santana’s recent efforts. Timeless highlights a legend’s musical talent while sticking closely to what made him a legend without diverting to too many commercial whistles and bells.

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