Don’t phunk with the Peas

news: Don’t phunk with the Peas

THIS LOS ANGELES based multi-ethnic rap crew joined the forefront of the cultural and musical renaissance in hip-hop at the end of the 20th century.

Aiming to unite musical communities, they serve up radio-friendly tunes while maintaining hardcore integrity.

Will.I.Am and first met in 1989 as eighth grade students, and began performing around the LA district as Atban Klann. By 1990, they had been eclipsed by the tough gangster image, but Will and Apl’s vision went beyond this LA gangster style.

They recorded an album with Ruthless Records, but the latter shelved it, unsure how to market a group whose style wasn’t dependent on violent bravado. This abortive recording contract left the duo wary but undeterred and, after recruiting Taboo in 1995, the newly named Black Eyed Peas were finally rewarded with a major deal with Interscope Records.

They began playing shows around LA, impressing hip-hop fans with their vocal skills and dazzling them with their break-dancing. The trio’s 1998 debut album, Behind the Front, saw the three MCs rapping in front of a live band, creating an organic, up-tempo groove. It was released to critical acclaim, not only for the trio of MCs but for their backing vocalist Kim Hill as well.

Up-and-coming soul singer Macy Gray was featured on one track, and repeated the favour two years later on the trio’s second album, Bridging the Gap. Sticking to their non-confrontational manifesto, the album confirmed Black Eyed Peas as the spiritual and musical heirs of A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul.

Black Eyed Peas have transcended their hip-hop roots and become a global phenomenon, the likes of which the music industry has rarely seen. Their third album, Elephunk, in 2003, was their breakthrough album, vaulting them to a level of success unparalleled by any other hip-hop group. The album featured new member Fergie, replacing Kim Hill, and generated a surprise UK chart-topper in September 2003 with Where Is the Love?, featuring former boy band singer, Justin Timberlake. Hey Mama and Let’s Get Started stormed the charts and, in December, Shut Up reached number two.

Their loose rhymes, buoyant funk and spirit heralded a new sound for the modern age, inspired by hip-hop, which eschews boundaries, inhibitions and cuts across ages, races and backgrounds.

Monkey Business, their fourth album and the first co-written by the foursome, has more sophisticated song-writing, layered grooves and fulfilled spirit. It intensifies their passion for making music together, connecting with their audience and making people have a good time. The group oozes a magnetic spirit, which has helped them establish a worldwide following.

Don’t Phunk with my Heart is a gripping soulful serenade, a sequel to Shut Up, and was born from true experience. Sting and neo-folk singer Jack Johnson are sampled on the song Gone Going, and Justin Timberlake makes another appearance on this album. They also got to live something of a dream when they worked with the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, for the song They Don’t Want Music. They remain one of only a handful of select groups that have been able to collaborate with Funk’s inventor.

Compared to groups such as Jurassic 5, Roots and Black Star, Black Eyed Peas have certainly brought original hip-hop to the masses and their accolades are numerous: seven-and-a-half million albums sold worldwide, four Grammy nominations and one Grammy award.

If hip-hop is your thing, then get on down to Pavilhão Atlântico, Parque das Nações, in Lisbon, on December 8, at 8pm, for one of the funkiest nights of the year! Tickets are available from or by calling 210 036 300.