The association that versatile pop chanteuse Fergie
(aka Stacy Fergeson) struck up with the hip-hop crew Black Eyed Peas
(she was central to their hugely successful 2003 release, ELEPHUNK
) proved she was capable of playing in the big leagues, and it was only a matter of time before the singer dropped a solo effort. THE DUTCHESS
arrived in 2006 and was packed, not surprisingly, with slick, commercially viable pop-rap.
The first release on Black Eyed Pea will.i.am's record label, THE DUTCHESS seems intent on giving Beyonce, Kelis, and every female pop/R&B singer a run for her money. With production help from Polow the Don and will.i.am (who also contributes raps to a couple of songs), Fergie delivers a record that kicks out spare club tracks inspired by Missy Elliott and M.I.A. (such as the disc's lead-off single "London Bridge"), alongside sultry soul ballads ("Clumsy"). There aren't many surprises here, but THE DUTCHESS is a glossy, fun, and satisfying album, which is exactly what her fans are expecting.