Black eyed peas: back to basics

    Black Eyed Peas are set to begin the third chapter of their musical career when they release their new album Elephunk on June 24. To promote this album they will start touring with shows in San Diego May 30 and 31. If you caught any of their tours in the past, you know about their ability to entertain. They will also be the opening act for the Justin Timberlake/Christina Aguilera Justified and Stripped summer tour.

    Courtesy of http://www.statenews.com

    Throughout the life of hip-hop, there have been commercial phases that music has gone through, whether it is gangsta, East versus West coast or bling-bling. However, there has always been the constant market for the Black Eyed Peas’s positive, message-driven music. The music initially had a storytelling feel and then went off into differing markets, but with A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and Mos Def, the roots remained a strong presence, and Black Eyed Peas is now a leading member of the genre.

    The group, based out of Los Angeles, consists of the rappers will.i.am, apl.de.ap and taboo. They came together in 1996 after will and apl lost their record deal from Ruthless Records under the name Atban Klann (A Tribe Beyond A Nation). Taboo was a member of Grass Roots at the time but was friends with will and apl, and they became Black Eyed Peas. They began performing at colleges around Los Angeles when they caught the attention of Interscope Records, who signed them in 1997.

    Their music has been described by will as “”progressive hip hop,”” or “”alterna-hop,”” as they incorporate hip-hop, jungle and trip-hop into their songs. This comes from the different cultures that each member grew up in. They are in the same vein as Jurassic 5, Talib Kweli and Mos Def with the positive messages heard in their music. The group has given audiences timeless hits with its most popular being “”Joints and Jam”” and “”Request Line.””

    Will explains his hopes for the music by “”trying to bridge the gap to those close-minded people who think hip-hop is only a certain way because they’ve just been listening to it for so long. They fell in love with it when it was about gun toting.””

    Their music has higher aims and additionally wider audiences. “”We try to make the songs that we make to be timeless,”” taboo said. “”There’s really no time frame to the music that we make. So we go about picking the songs through natural instinct.””

    Elephunk is the follow up to 2001’s Bridging the Gap and 1998’s Behind the Front. The album is consistent with a conscious message backed by innovative and dance-ready beats. There are appearances by Papa Roach on the track “”Anxiety,”” while Justin Timberlake appears on the message-driven “”Where is the Love.”” The title itself is new in that it no longer refers to a contradiction that the first two had.

    “”Elephants being big and docile if they really wanted to they could be the kings of the jungle. As big and massive as they are, they could stampede the fuck out of any lion,”” taboo said. “”We felt that our music is like that; it’s big, our beats are bigger and thicker just like an elephant. It’s not to be provoked, ’cause if you provoke it, we’re gonna stampede that ass. Black Eyed Peas came with some heat to stampede the world, metaphorically speaking, not literally. It’s a stampede of big production, songwriting, just a whole new frontier for Black Eyed Peas, ’cause we weren’t used to that before. Now we’re a lot more knowledgeable about how to produce, how to be behind the board, how to utilize pro-tools, how to actually be producers.””

    The album itself is a breath of fresh air and should be given a chance by any fan of hip-hop. There are so many albums out that glorify the negative experiences that the consistent positive and fun message is unique.

    Although some may not like the idea of Justin Timberlake on a track with them, he really doesn’t add too much of a pop sound, as he is only there for the hook. “”Let’s Get Retarded”” is their first single, and can be heard at their Web site, http://www.blackeyedpeas.com. The song is very upbeat, and something you would expect to hear in clubs.

    “”Hip-hop is going through a resurgence right now. I feel like people are gonna start loving it again and appreciating it as a culture as opposed to a money maker,”” taboo said.

    In their performances, the Peas will give nothing but energy for those in attendance. They get hyped by the sounds of the music and transform that energy into what they do. They start break dancing in the middle of songs and also establish their own martial arts-type dancing that is quite unique. As far as explaining their influeces, taboo says he is inspired by shows like Cirque du Soleil, the Blue Man Group and Stomp, more than he is by concerts.

    As far as the future of the music, he is less sure. “”I don’t know what is to come for hip-hop. The corporations have saturated it so much that now you see it on Sponge Bob Square Pants and Burger King Commercials … so who knows what’s gonna happen. All we could do is keep our legacy going and let people know that hip-hop remains in us and will stay there through the test of time,”” he said. “”As a culture, we’re gonna let it be known that it’s a culture and not just a fad or phase that people are going through. The way we’ll do that is through our everyday lifestyle just to make sure that hip-hop is always a part of us some way.””

    When you think of hip-hop music, Black Eyed Peas probably won’t be the first group that comes to mind. However, that mentality makes sense, since they fit so many different categories of music and entertainment. If you can make it, check out one of their shows, either in San Diego or Carlsbad, or on the Justified and Stripped tour. If not, check out one of their albums, which have quality tracks from start to finish.

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