Black Eyed Peas gets ready to deliver their second album, “Bridging The Gaps”. HipHopSite sat down with them and got the full scoop….
HipHopSite: So, with the new album coming out, “Bridging the Gaps”, this time you have a lot of guest appearances. Who is featured on this album?
Will I Am: It’s really not a lot. We got De La Soul, which is like, perfect. Esthero, she’s our homegirl. Macy Gray, but she’s on the first one, so it doesn’t really count. Mos Def that’s our nigga so, that doesn’t really count as a collaboration either. Premier … we toured with that motherfucker on the Smokin’ Grooves, so that don’t really count. Wyclef … but he’s my nigga, he’s my brother… we twins. Then we got, Chali 2Na from Jurassic 5, but you know, that’s our homeboy too.
HipHopSite: Going back to the beginning, you started off as the Atban Klann, and then there are also family ties with Blood Of Abraham. What was the transition between Atban and Black Eyed Peas?
Will I Am: We’ve always been the Black Eyed Peas, because originally that was our production company’s name. Motivate and I were the producers, and the team was called Black Eyed Peas. When we got off Ruthless in ’95 after Eazy-E passed away with AIDS, we wanted to change the name and start all over.
Appl: Plus, you know, the name was owned by them, so if we continued to use the name they would own everything. So then we started throwing names in the air, like “How about Blue Unit? Nah. How about Black Eyed Peas? Oh yeah, that’s kind of cool.”
Will I Am: Then we had this family called Grass Roots, than Taboo was in, and a group called Paco. We were like, “Let’s bring in Taboo, because we all dance, and he could be like in the group as the hype man.” Through the struggle of getting signed through ’95 to ’97, Taboo proved himself as an emcee.
Taboo: Throughout our journey, we also accumulated our drummer Terry Graves, and Mike Fontuna our bassist.
Will I Am: The whole reason we recorded with a band is because we recorded as Atban Klann with a band, it wasn’t just like, “oh let’s get a band”, we have been doing that. But we never really did that many shows as Atban Klann, in Las Vegas, and with Organized Konfusion at Unity, and in Santa Barbara with The Pharcyde. And then a bunch of Ruthless gangsta parties, niggas was like, “Who these muthafuckas!?!?” Eazy-E would be like, “They can freestyle and dance”, and niggas was like “Dance then nigga! Freestyle!”
HipHopSite: I know that Atban album got leaked, right? I remember seeing it on the Internet.
Will I Am: Oh, this dude named Stinke?
HipHopSite: Um…. I don’t know. Are you going to do anything with that album?
Will I Am: Oh yeah! We are going to probably put it out eventually through our own website. MP3, CD, vinyl, 8-track, we’re going to do it all.
HipHopSite: How does the new album, “Bridging The Gaps” differ from the debut album, “Behind The Front”?
Will I Am: It’s not different.
HipHopSite: Well, what does it show? Does it take of where the last album left off, or does it show growth?
Will I Am: As far as our production, our hip-hop morals have not changed. The shit that we are for and against, or shit that we are proactive about. We’ve grown as emcees and producers.
Appl: And this album is more uptempo, just like straight to the point …. a lot of club joints with bangin’ joints. Being on tour with “Behind The Front” accumulated a lot of energy, and being on stage and reacting with crowd kind of stuck in our minds when we went in the studio this time. So when we wrote the raps we kind of had the live show in mind.
Will I Am: The first album was like, a lot of dope songs, but a lot of people were like, “I like the album, but I love your show” so this album is more easily translated from the stage to the studio.
HipHopSite: How about musical influences. Who are the primary people who have influenced your style?
Appl: Stevie Wonder, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, KRS-One to Bob Marleyâ€¦ Will listens to a lot of Latin Jazz, Tab listens to Sade, D’Angelo, Slum Village. Any kind of music that has a good content, we are really big fans of music in general.
HipHopSite: In the 80′s all groups had dancers, and today ,when this part of the culture is completely ignored. But you guys dance and rhyme – why do you feel it is necessary to preserve this?
Will I Am: Because me personally … I was that dude who danced all the time. I freestyled just as much, but I wouldn’t be being true to myself if didn’t incorporate it. I remember at home watching Pump It Up and Party Machine, and I was like, “I can’t wait until I get on with Dee Barnes, and show her my moves!”
Taboo: It’s a powerful technique, as powerful as being an emcee or a deejay, because as far as the culture and the elements and if you can rock that shit with your own style, then by all means….
Will I Am: That’s why I think a lot of hip-hop shows suck. You see a show and it sucks, because they totally abandoned the artform of breakdancing that is important to hip-hop.
Appl: When Ice Cube said it, “I leave the dancin’ to the brothers with the funny hair cuts…
Will I Am: Everyone stopped dancing! And they cut their hair off!
HipHopSite: Do you find it harder to be taken serious as a hip-hop group when your image is clearly different than what is perceived as the “cool” hip-hop image of the average rapper? You have your own style, like, you aren’t rocking the usual Avirex jacket and Timberlands…
Will I Am: I come from a day in hip-hop, when it was about housing motherfuckers, when they had like baggy pants with the policeman boots, or overalls with one strap down â€“ it was the house music style. It was like when hip-hop was uptempo, and it was about expressing yourself with the African medallions and the beads, the hats, expression! When Dr. Dre was talking about “Express Yourself” “I don’t smoke weed or cess because it cause brain damage / and brain damage on the mic don’t manage”. When Q-Tip was wearing that big hat, and Jarobi was a part of the shit. When Leaders of The New School had fresh gear, when Living Color was on. When Arsenio Hall was a part of hip-hop. That was where I came from.
HipHopSite: Arsenio Hall was important for hip-hop.
Will I Am: That was the only time you saw a live performance on television. There wasn’t any lip-syncing off a DAT, it was live, because that was the rules of the show. Leaders of The New School were on there, De La Soul, Del the fuckin’ Funky Homosapien was on there. Arsenio Hall really broke a lot of hip-hop groups. Those were the days of expression, and we are an extension of that. We are a group that expresses ourselves, in the way that they did in ’89 to ’94.
Appl: A lot of niggas are like, “Them niggas ain’t hip-hop.”
HipHopSite: So how do you breakthrough to the audience that believes that thug shit is the essence of hip-hop music?
Will I. Am: It’s not really the older crowd that we have a problem with. It’s more like the little kids, the new ones. Cats who have been listening to hip-hop ever since “The Chronic”, or even more since the Biggie and 2Pac era.
HipHopSite: Who would you say your audience is, and who is the audience you want?
Will I Am: Everybody. Skatekids, hip-hop kids, college kids. The audience we want is the world. But I am not going to change what I do to get them, but I am still going to get them.
HipHopSite: How would you describe the Cali scene right now?
Appl: When we first went to Europe, in the interviews they were like, “Wow, you guys are really from L.A., they have a predominately gangsta sound!” Next time we came around, it was nice to hear them talking about all of the progressive hip-hop coming out of L.A., like Dilated Peoples and Jurassic 5.
Will I Am: It’s always been there, it’s just that now, record companies aren’t making money off of gangsta rap any more, so now they gotta find something else. What they will do in a couple of years though, is find a bunch of white rap bands, and exploit it. Back when groups like us, Jurassic and Dilated were trying to get record deals, now is the time to do it. Let’s show them that we can do it too, or else they are going to find a bunch of Limp Bizkits, Kid Rocks, and Korns, and it ain’t going to be called hip-hop.
HipHopSite: Considering all of these rock / rap fusion acts are blowing up, are you guys considering incorporating those kinds of styles into your own sound? I was reading on your website, you were asking the users, “Should we do rock remixes?”
Will I Am: We did the Warped Tour last year, and we did the song with Premier, “BEP Empire”, which is Black Eyed Peas style hip-hop. We may do a maxi single, where we did a Brazillian version of the song, a hip-hop mix that Premier did, and a rock version. So, we were just basically asking the fans what they thought, should we do this or not. You can’t just do that to sell records, so we figured to asked our audience what they thought, and see what they thought.
HipHopSite: What is your stance on the whole MP3 issue and people downloading your music for free off the internet?
Will I Am: It’s a touchy subject because you don’t want to fuck up possible fans that are getting it for free, and that’s why I think a lot of artists stand up for it, so that they don’t appear as a greedy artist. But the reality of is….. that shit is wack! And people say, “Well, I download your shit, because all I hear on 92.3 The Beat is that wack shit!” But really what people don’t understand is that they are making it so that the wack shit is all you’ll get. See, every group on a major label has a certain quota of what they are going to sell, and if groups like us don’t sell what we are supposed to, record companies will stop signing groups like us, and underground groups will never get the proper exposure. Soon, record companies may only sign big money acts like Ricky Martin. We definitely want to support it, but it’s like having sex with a drunk female …. she’s drunk and she’s not with it. It’s still wrong, because the artist don’t want you to be doing it. Now, if we have something that doesn’t come out, or they’re not letting us clear it …. here you go, spread it around, it’s cool. Other than that, they’re killing the smaller artists. People even say “Well, the artists can upload the music and get exposure that way”, but in reality, it costs us money to record the music. Artists like Jurassic 5, Black Eyed Peas, Mos Def, Dilated Peoples, if you want to keep hearing this kind of shit, then you have to buy or music.
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