Amid the Black Lives Matter movement and the global Coronavirus pandemic, the Black Eyed Peas have found new meaning in their music. Will.i.am, apl.de.ap and Taboo Zoomed with Ryan Seacrest on-air on Friday, June 19, and reflected on their career leading up to today's inspiring eighth studio album Translation, which features powerful track "News Today."
The band shared they always “approach every project the same way” and that staying humble and aware is what has kept them going.
“This moment that we have right now, it doesn’t come around often for a group,” Will.i.am shared. “A group like ours that’s had success in the late ‘90s then all throughout the 2000s and top it off with 2010 and 2011 with ‘I Gotta Feeling’ and playing Super Bowls and World Cups and stadiums and, you know, chart-toping songs like ‘I Gotta Feeling’ and ‘Boom Boom Pow’ those two holding the No. 1 position for more than 4, 5 months … and then take an 8-year break? Like, it should be dunzo!” he admitted. “No one can survive an 8-year break, especially in their 40s!”
Will.i.am added that entering the Latin market too was a surprise and that he attributes their success to always reverting back to day one.
“I just think it’s the power of humbling yourself and forgetting the success you had and not let that dictate how you collaborate with people,” he added. “That ego blocks you. … You have to come with your humble game and even coming with your humble game is egotistical. … You’ve got to be a student. … We’ve done that several times in our career because that’s just core to who we are.”
The album features a number of collaborations with stars like Maluma, Becky G, Tyga, Nicky Jam and Shakira but it’s track “News Today” that’s resonating with fans across the globe. The song delivers a provocative and powerful observation on life in 2020.
“It was two weeks in to the lockdown and I would come to the studio every morning and … the streets were empty … and I would go to the supermarket in a panic, heart heavy and I would see the person at the cashier with bright eyes as if they were, and they were, saving people’s lives and I was like, ‘Wow, how come I didn’t appreciate this person in January?’” Will.i.am shared. “… These folks are essential workers. They should be getting paid more than name-the-folks. … Like, wow, I’m a part of the reason why we don’t value them because I didn’t value them until that moment and I had this heavy heart. I wanted to cry because my sister works at Walmart and she stocks.”
Will.i.am continued that he and his mother would argue over whether or not they were being safe having his sister come home from work after being exposed to people all day.
“I was like let’s write a song about this,” he added. “I just want to write a song about this because I have al these emotions, all these concerns, and I don’t want to get depressed. I don’t want to think about in-detail what’s actually happening all around the world. … Like, wow, what the what? … Everyone is experiencing the same thing. … Everyone is concerned. … And so I just needed to write about it and it was like an emotional rant. It was like 7 minutes long at first … and then we chiseled it into the form it is now … and then right when we turned in the album, George Floyd and protest[ing happened] and I was like, ‘Wait, there’s another song!’”
The band, however, decided they’ve already penned that song: “Where Is the Love?”
“That put out the fire [for me],” Will.i.am concluded. “‘Where Is the Love?’ … is exactly the emotion I needed to let out.”
Taboo concluded that Translation is for the people.
“The sentiment of this record was to uplift,” he concluded. “We wanted to uplift the spirits … so that we can ease the mind for what we provide to the world with our frequency of therapy through music.”
Listen back to the full interview in the audio above for more, including to learn the only time the group ever had friction and how Taboo is celebrating his 6th year in remission from cancer.