Black Eyed Peas: Upping the Energy and E.N.D.ing the Rumors
By Andy Argyrakis
From the pages of Image Chicago
If there’s a single to define the summer of 2009, it’s without a doubt the Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow.” Between the radio, club play and even the video screens at every health club around town, it’s absolutely inescapable, though it’s so delightfully danceable, it’s worth every second of over saturation. And that chart topping smash also suggests the chemistry remains robust for will.i.am, apl.de.ap, Taboo and Fergie, who after a four year hiatus to pursue a variety of side projects (backed by break-up rumors galore) are back intact. In fact, Taboo’s recent chat with IMAGE indicated that despite their time apart, members never stopped speaking or working together, instead maintaining a friendship and musical kinship that’s most aptly summarized on the brand new Interscope album The E.N.D. (Energy Never Dies).
What your take on why people are connecting with “Boom Boom Pow” to such an unstoppable extent?
Taboo: That song right there is a great workout song- the whole album is really. It’s good for working out, getting ready to go to the club and good to play at the club. It’s just a record that makes you want to get on dance floor. We’re telling you “guys, get on dance floor!” It’s not suggestive. It’s straight out saying “it’s time for the club- let’s go and shake that ass!”
How did the group transition from hip-hop to straight up dance?
Taboo: We’re like explorers and the metaphor is we go in with flashlights and we explore different regions, whether that be rock concerts, electro dance clubs, hip-hop clubs or underground clubs. Right now, we’re learning a new process of creating [dance music], but we actually have [a song or two] in that style in every one of our albums leading up to this. We’ve always had a four on the floor type of rhythm, but this time we focused straight on the dance club environment. We live in clubs and are always going out to them when we’re on the road where will.i.am and apl.de.ap DJ and I’m the hype man to get the crowd going. Every city has a scene and we like to be a part of that scene.
Based on your history that dates back to the early ‘90s, how do you fit into the current club scene?
Taboo: We’re the type who likes to research and go to clubs and see the pulse of the youth to find out what the new hotness is. For us, we started in 1991 dancing and breaking, being at clubs and battling other crews. It starts with that as a dancer and then you evolve into a musician, a producer and a student of culture. Right now we’re into this electro culture and we’re going to clubs in Australia and Europe and checking it out. It’s like this new resurgence for us. We always remember hip-hop underground clubs, but now that electro scene has become reminiscent of that era.
Why title new record The E.N.D., especially considering all the break-up rumors on the internet?
Taboo: There were all these rumors and misconceptions that the Black Eyed Peas had broken up cause we were doing solo records and movies, so we started laughing like “wow, this is hilarious,” so why not create the end to the rumors and misconceptions? We thought “oh wow, The E.N.D., that shit’s crazy!” It’s the end to the rumors, the lies and the petty things people talk about. And it’s also the end of conventional ways of buying music, like before you had Sam Goody, Tower Records and Virgin Megastore, but those places don’t even exist! It’s the end of that, the end of Bush with Obama coming in and it’s change all across the board. It’s an evolution as to who are as individuals and as a group. We’re enjoying being back together in the group sense and we’ll be traveling and touring together over the next two or three years. And The E.N.D stands for Energy Never Dies!
Was it difficult or seamless to get back together after a four year hiatus?
Taboo: We’re always involved in each others lives and there was really no break as a family. The factory was still moving! Fergie as The Dutchess is part of the factory, will.i.am’s role in X-men Origins: Wolverine, campaigning for Obama and producing is part of the Black Eyed Peas’ factory, so is me in Streetfighter and stuff in the Latin community and apl.de.ap doing his [upcoming solo CD] and stuff in the Filipino community. That’s all part of the Black Eyed Peas’ factory and we were always involved. We did some touring in 2007 and we never really left each other’s side. We were constantly in contact with each other; we just weren’t in the public’s eye as a foursome. Because the factory was still working, when we came back together, the fans were like “oh my God, this is what we want!” They love the individualism, but there’s nothing like dominating the world and going around planet. Yeah, we could be in a spaceship by ourselves, but you always gotta come back down to earth to refuel your spaceship.
What’s your take on Fergie’s immense solo success?
Taboo: You gotta understand that Fergie’s been a star since she was a kid with [the TV show] Kids Incorporated. Then she got into [the pop group] Wild Orchid and that brought even more fame and then she became part of Black Eyed Peas and that brought even more fame. Then she became The Dutchess and it was destined. I’m so proud of her cause that’s my sister. When she first came into the group, she was a solo artist, but held off on her solo career to record [2003’s Peas’ CD] Elephunk and [2005’s Peas’ CD] Monkey Business. She put off living her dream as a solo artist for the better of the factory…The media might know Fergie and will.i.am a little more than me and apl.de.ap, but as a foursome, we are supportive of each individual- humongously famous or not. For me, I want to have my friends succeed and I want to be proud of them as opposed to being bitter because there’s no competition. Everyone being successful brings more attention to the Peas and that’s what I’m about. The Peas are first and foremost cause that’s my family- that’s the factory.
What’s the Black Eyed Peas’ IMAGE?
Taboo: Black Eyed Peas’ image is we’re like fashion forward cats that must have a good time. We’re best friends, we take our performing aspect really seriously and we like to bring the heat. We rock out any crowd, we’re excellent dancers- everybody has a different dance style to accompany what we do on stage- and we’re all practitioners as writers. We’re all great actors and we have the whole package. There’s a lot to say about the Peas other than great songs or a great show.
How about your future plans outside of the group?
Taboo: When my solo record comes out probably after this Black Eyed Peas run, it will be directed more towards the Latino community because I had the opportunity to work with a non-profit in east L.A. called STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. It builds awareness to kids where I come from about how important technology is. And I think the record is going to be directed more towards the Latin community in Spanish- mixing between English and Spanish- which is a totally different thing than the Peas. I’m also exploring more acting roles, not just action films, but actually challenging myself to take on hard roles.
Why is it so important for you to give back to your community?
Taboo: What inspired me is that apl.de.ap came from the Philippines in 1989 and didn’t know a word of English. The way he came to America was as a sponsor child. Here he was a farmer born in the Philippines- a third world country- and the first person he met here was will.i.am. He creates a bond and friendship with him through music and appreciating creative outlets and now here he is so prominent. He manages to go back to [lend a hand] and it’s a whole country! Why can’t we do that in our own community? We never forget where we came from no matter how successful we get and we love to give back to where it all started because in those communities, there’s the next Black Eyed Peas. Because we have the capabilities and the voice to do it, maybe we could start the search for the next Black Eyed Peas!
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