Chances are you haven't heard of Sergio Mendes. It's okay; unless you're older and into Brazilian jazz, the name wouldn't be familiar to you. However, he was a driving force in Brazil's jazz and bossa nova scene in the '60s and '70s. Mendes, along with his band Brasil '66, enjoyed much success back in the day, topping the Billboard chart in 1968 and even performing for two US presidents.
However, it's 2006, not 1968, and Mendes is barely a household name among the MTV generation. Black Eyed Peas star will.i.am is making it his personal mission to change that.
It's not an easy task, however. Many Americans just aren't hip to other cultures when it comes to music. Even though you might have heard his hit record “Mas Que Nada” in the first Austin Powers film, Sergio Mendes could probably walk right past you in the local Wal-Mart and you wouldn't even notice.
That's where the Black Eyed Peas producer and star comes in. In order to ease skepticism, Will brought in a host of current American talent: Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Justin Timberlake, and Q-tip headline the extensive list of performers.
The CD starts out with the recognizable “Mas Que Nada”, featuring the Black Eyed Peas. Will's seamless production makes the track seem more like a Black Eyed Peas song (complete with Fergie’s “La La La La” trademark) than a Mendes creation. This may be good or bad depending on which side of the BEP tree that you fall on. However, I dig the track, mainly because I'm enjoy the original source material.
From that point on, the disc continues to impress. Erykah Badu comes out of hiding to add her silky voice to an otherwise so-so track entitled “That Heat.” Stevie Wonder reunites with Mendes and amazes on “Berimbau / Consolação,” making the song sound like it was a lost track from Songs in the Key of Life. R&B songsters Jill Scott and India.Arie provide their vocals to “Loose Ends” and “Timeless” respectively.