Group formed in Los Angeles, CA in 1995; members include apl.de.ap (born Alan Pineda Lindo, November 20, 1974, in the Philippines), rapper, dancer; Fergie (born Stacey Ferguson, March 27, 1975, in Hacienda Heights, CA; joined group, 2001), singer, dancer; Kim Hill (left group, 2001), singer; Taboo (born Jaime Gomez, July 14, 1975, in Los Angeles, CA; children: Joshua), rapper, dancer; will.i.am (born William Adams, March 15, 1975, in Los Angeles, CA), rapper, dancer.
Addresses: Agent —William Morris Agency, 1325 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019. Record company —A…M Records, 2220 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404. Website —http://www.-blackeyedpeas.com.
Apl.de.ap and will.i.am were members of Tribal Nation and later formed Atban Klann, which signed with Ruthless Records; Taboo joined the group and the named changed to the Black Eyed Peas; Kim Hill joined the group; released debut album, Behind the Front , 1998; released Bridging the Gap , 2000; Hill was replaced by Fergie, 2001; released Elephunk , 2003; released Monkey Business , 2005.
The Black Eyed Peas burst onto the music scene in 1998, drawing attention not only for theirmusic, but for their politically and socially conscious lyrics that shied away from the more predominant gangsta sounds of the day, which were laced with violence, drugs, and abuse. They put out a couple of albums before they added a vocalist who seemed to give them just the edge they needed to become very popular. At that time, according to the Sing365 website, they "transcended their vigilant hip-hop roots and have become a global phenomenon, the likes of which the music world has rarely seen." The members of the group are will.i.am, apl.de.ap, Taboo, and Fergie.
Apl.de.ap was born Alan Pineda Lindo on November 20, 1974, in the Philippines. He was raised by adoptive parents in Los Angeles, California. Will. i.am was born William Adams on March 15, 1975, also in Los Angeles. Will.i.am and apl.de.ap met in that city in 1989 when they were in the eighth grade. They became instant friends, discovering a mutual interest in dancing—especially street dancing—and singing. They joined a break-dancing group, Tribal Nation, which was something that would later inform their stage shows after they created the Black Eyed Peas. After high school they formed their own group, Atban Klann. The Atban part of the name stood for A Tribe Beyond a Nation, and was a nod of respect to their starting group Tribal Nation. It was a difficult career to become a success in, but the two friends were determined. Many of their childhood friends who had been involved in music quit the scene for a life of selling drugs instead, but this was something that the duo refused to do. They stayed clear of the drug scene and rather than give up when they did not achieve instant success, steadfastly followed their dreams. They played at different venues around the Los Angeles area and tried to do what all bands do: come to the attention of a record label.
In 1992 Atban Klann had garnered enough attention to get will.i.am and apl.de.ap a record deal with Ruthless Records. They recorded an entire album, but unfortunately it was never released because of problems with marketing. Ruthless Records was accustomed to promoting the more violent gangsta groups and did not know what to do with a more laid-back, peace-loving, break-dancing group. The only person at Ruthless Records who really believed in the group was rapper Eazy-E, the person who had signed them in the first place. Unfortunately for the duo, Eazy-E died of AIDS in 1995 and Atban Klann's hopes were dashed. As soon as the one person who supported them had died, Ruthless Records let the group go.
With their chances of making it with Ruthless Records gone, will.i.am and apl.de.ap decided to start a new band with an additional member, Taboo, whom they had met at a break-dancing club named Ballistics. Taboo was born Jaime Gomez on July 14, 1975, and had been dancing and singing for just as long as will.i.am and apl.de.ap had been. He gladly joined the two friends and together they started the first incarnation of the Black Eyed Peas. The new trio began to play around Los Angeles. As luck would have it, two college students who were interning at different record labels heard the group and brought representatives from their companies back with them to hear the Black Eyed Peas perform. The group was soon invited to sign with Interscope Records in July of 1997.
Looking for a new sound to add to their record, they got singer Kim Hill to perform backup vocals and in 1998 the Black Eyed Peas released their first album, Behind the Front. The band consisted of the four front-liners and then four musicians in back playing live. Upon the album's release, the band was compared to the Roots, another hip-hop group that used live musicians rather than recorded tracks and synthesizers. The Black Eyed Peas preferred to do their music live, and it was this live sound that gave the group a more spontaneous and fresh sound that listeners appreciated. After the release of their first album, the band toured for almost two years, basking in popularity. What with their unique sound and their refreshingly clean and thought-provoking lyrics, the Black Eyed Peas were a welcome change in the rap and hip-hop worlds. Will. i.am spoke with Lorraine Ali of Newsweek about their lyrics: "The challenge was how to make feel-good albums with substance, but not come off like we were preaching. Nobody wants to be jamming at a party and be preached to. It's a real fine line between 'Oh, wow! Did you hear that?' And 'This guy needs to shut up.'" The group somehow managed to straddle that line successfully and the huge audiences at their performances showed that violence was not the only way to sell rap and hip-hop music.
In 2000 the Black Eyed Peas released their second album, Bridging the Gap , so named because the group felt they were bridging the gap between rock and hip-hop. "The album melds hip-hop, trip-hop, and jungle influences on a flowing, twitching release that may be one of the better urban releases of the year, " stated Erin Brosha on the CanEHdian website. Macy Gray was one of several guest artists to join the group on the CD.
In 2001 Hill left the Black Eyed Peas and the band had to find itself another singer. The trio happened upon Fergie, born Stacey Ferguson, and not long after Hill left the band, Fergie filled the space. She had been a former cast member of the television program Kids Incorporated and a member of the teen-pop band Wild Orchid, so she had the experience the band wanted, plus a look and feel that seemed to blend well with the Black Eyed Peas. She admitted to being extremely nervous at first because she was taking the place of someone that fans had accepted and loved, but she put her best foot forward and threw herself into helping the Black Eyed Peas become an even better band than they already were.
Fergie need not have worried: She was an instant success, as was the band's third album, 2003's Elephunk. This album was not only successful, it made it to number one on Billboard 's Top 40 list. The record went gold in September of that year. Critics and audiences alike put part of the album's success down to Fergie having joined the group. She was seen as having added the depth of her vocals to the band's already hip sound. Also on this album, the band continued to bring in outside stars to perform with them. Unlike other hip-hop groups, the Black Eyed Peas were not afraid to team up with decidedly un-hip-hop stars. For instance, the song "Where is the Love, " which made it to number one on the charts, was recorded with pop star Justin Timberlake. Not only did the inclusion of other artists add a different and interesting dynamic to some of the band's songs, but it also helped expand their fanbase.
The Black Eyed Peas went on tour with Timberlake and fellow pop star Christina Aguilera, spreading their music even further. The band was nominated for their first Billboard award for Elephunk , winning the Mainstream Top 40 Track of the Year for "Where is the Love." They were also nominated for four Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year for "Where is the Love." The song topped the U.S. Top 100 at #8, and went all the way to #1 in the United Kingdom where it also became the best-selling single of 2003. The group sold 7.5 million albums around the world. The Sing365 website said of Elephunk : "the albumheralded a new sound for the modern age—one that is inspired by hip-hop, eschews boundaries and inhibitions, and cuts across ages, races, and backgrounds." It seemed like the Black Eyed Peas and their songs were everywhere. An alternate version of one of their tracks became the theme song for the NBA Finals.
Monkey Business , the band's fourth album, was recorded while the group was on tour for Elephunk. This album was like a piece of therapy for the band and helped connect the four of them together like never before. It was the first album the quartet wrote and designed together, something that was reflected in the deeper, more mature and thought-provoking songs. Timberlake reappeared on the album with the song "My Style." Singers Sting, Jack Johnson, and James Brown also contributed to the album. The song "Don't Phunk With My Heart" made it to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, the highest any of their songs has gone in the United States to date. The album itself debuted at[H11398]2onthe Billboard chart.
In 2005 the Black Eyed Peas won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance for "Let's Get It Started." When talking about their success, will. i.am told the Black Eyed Peas Official Web Site, "I think the fact that we just have fun with music is the reason why it works for us. We love music and melodies and don't try to distinguish ourselves from regular music fans. It's really that simple."
Outside of music the members of the Black Eyes Peas are involved with many projects. In 2004, during the Black Eyed Peas' concert tour in Asia, apl. de.ap's life story was made into a television dramatic special called Do You Think You Can Remember? , which took a look at his childhood with his poor family in the Philippines and his eventual adoption and move to the United States. Plus, he was working on an album that features rapping in both Tagalog and English. Fergie was working on her own solo album, which had been in the works before she joined the group. Taboo started a martial arts and break-dancing after-school program in Los Angeles and worked on his solo album, which mixed Spanish and English rap with reggaeton. Will.i.am was involved with designing a clothing line and producing albums for other artists. After the 2004 tsunami disaster in Asia, he organized a relief benefit and went to areas in Malaysia to help rebuild homes. The socially conscious band did not just spout words about how to make the world a better place, they tried to help make it one. It is expected that the trend will continue and that fans, hungry for music minus the violence, will eagerly snap it up.
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Bridging the Gap , Interscope, 2000.
Elephunk , A…M, 2003.
Monkey Business , A…M, 2005.
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Keyboard , October 1, 2005, p. 30.
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Teen People , September 1, 2004, p. 159; June 3, 2005, p. 42.
Variety , February 5, 2001, p. 47.
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— Catherine Victoria Donaldson