Black Eyed Peas

When it comes to hip-hop you can't go wrong with Black Eyed Peas. You may have heard the new single "Request Line" featuring Macy Gray or if you're in the know you'd have been down the front shaking your booty at the recent mini-tour. Either way they're a force to be reckoned with. With the second album in the can which features such artists as Wyclef Jean and De La Soul you'll be hearing a lot more of these guys. We caught up with Will-I-Am to find out what they're all about.

Q: How did this whole Macy Gray collaboration come about for "Request Line"? 
A: Macy Gray was on our first album in 1988 on a song called "Love Won't Wait". It was before she released her album so we've known Macy for a while. We opened up for her on the last tour as well - we hook up when we can!!! 

Q: How did all the collaborations come about on the new album? 
A: We met them on tour as well. We met De La Soul on the Lyricist Lounge Tour. Mos Def on a Coca Cola tour. Apple went to the same High School as Charlie Turner from Jurassic 5. Les Nubians we met on tour in Paris. Wyclef we met on the Smokin Blues tour in 1998. DJ Primera on the same tour. We just built up relationships with these people. 

Q: Who was it inspired to get into music and lyrics? 
A: De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. Public Enemy. KRS 1 - shit like that!!! I started rapping when I was about 13 and I'm 26 now. And no I wasn't like Lil' Bow Wow - I wrote my own raps!!! We write about anything. We don't like to pigeon ourselves into a category. Anything that is bothering us. Anything that is making us feel good about life. Bullshit. Nothin'. Partys. 

Q: What sets you apart from the pack is that its Live hip-hop (not just rhyming over a DAT tape). Was that always the plan? 
A: Well. Apple and I, we used to be signed to Rawkus records with Easy E in `92`. We recorded with live instruments and when we tried out Black Eyed Peas in 1995 after Easy E passed away we wanted to have that same freedom on stage.

I wouldn't say we make an attempt to be different, its just how we are as individuals. I don't get up every morning and say "Fuck!!! I gotta do some different shit" - it just comes out that way.

How much money does it cost to put on a Britney Spears show? I can't wait to the day that we get enough budget to put on those type of shows. It would probably be ridiculous. Right now were working on no budget and putting on a high energetic show. You can pay for anything nowadays but the truth comes out when you do shit when there's no finance behind it. That's the truth when its all heart & soul & love. I can make Chicken taste like Muthafuckin' pizza if you gave me enough money to change this shit around. 

Q: Do you think mainstream hip-hop has become a bit cliched. Mo' Money, Mo' Bitches, Mo' guns etc.? 
A: Hip hop has always been that way if you think about it. Its always been a braggadocios type of music with Slick Rick and his Gold Chains. La-de-da when he rapped "So I picked up the soap and brushed the Gold teeth" - you know. Hip hop has always been about gold teeth, gold chains, girls.

But it was also about an environmental release. You had songs like "Don't push me cos' I'm close to the edge, I'm trying not to lose my head". Like a crying out of your environment stressing you out and pushing you to that point. Hip hop is a numerous amount of things its just that now the media / corporations / record companies are only saturating one form of hip hop and that is that materialistic thing.

Hip hop is one of the biggest forms of music in the world at this point. You've got hip hop selling shit on commercials. Maxi-pad commercials with hip hop in the background. 

Q: But wouldn't you rather have a meaningful act like Dead Prez at Number 1 than say Puff Daddy? 
A: I like Puffy in clubs. I can't front. I can't say that when "All About The Benjamins" comes on in a club that I don't dance - that's a good song, it makes me dance. And I'm pretty sure that Dead Prez like "All About the Benjamins". I'm pretty sure they'll dance to that.

You can't front. You have to accept all forms of hip hop. Its either good shit or wack shit. There's a lot of wack Puffy songs and there's probably one or two wack Dead Prez songs. There good Black Eyed Peas songs and there's some wack shit too.

Every Picasso painting wasn't great, he got some wack shit. Mozart got some wack shit, but he got some great shit too. 

Q: And finally, what do you motto do you live by? 
A: There's nothing wrong with being stupid. For intelligent people for one day to just say "Ok, lets just be stupid together - right now!!!" 

"Request Line" out 16th April 


Designer Magazine unless otherwise stated.

All Interviews by Alex McCann unless otherwise stated
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