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The Black Eyed Peas Talk About New Music, Social Media and World Problems

It has been eight years since The Black Eyed Peas, known for Where Is the Love?, dropped an album. Masters of the Sun, their newest album, drops on the 26th of October with a bunch of new features and without their beloved female co-singer Fergie. An album in which they go back to their roots of hip hop, talk about world problems and positivity. We sat down with Will.I.Am and to chat about their new music, their message and the changes in hip hop.

Text by Yaell Monas, pictures by James Hickey

October 26th is the day, a new album is dropping. Where does the name Masters of the Sun come from?

It has been eight years since we dropped an album, but we wanted to put out music sooner or later. Masters of the Sun is inspired by a graphic novel called Masters of the Sun: The Zombie Chronicles, that we put out together with Marvel last year. The story also came out as an augmented and virtual reality app and tells an heroic tale of a hip hop group from East L.A. With the new album, we went back to our roots in hip hop, which started in L.A. twenty years ago. The whole record is dedicated to those twenty years of The Black Eyed Peas. We tried to make sure we referred to the sound and aesthetics of our first albums to reflect our origin.

You guys have been in the music game since the mid 90's, what has changed for you in the industry?

The whole industry has changed. Nowadays you can use online platforms to discover new artists and make music that reaches people. We are lucky enough to be able to get the music we really like these days, without actually having to buy a record. Artists are able to make music that means something, and put it out to the world easier than back then.

With hip hop changing, artists changed too. And there's a new generation of rappers, such as the mumble and SoundCloud rappers. How do you guys feel about that?

We like artists such as J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. Artists that take their time to craft rhymes and metaphors and nice choruses. I like artists that think like a musician. I don't want to diss anybody, or say anything bad about a certain music industry or type of artist. I think it's just a matter of taste in music. When I'm in a club, I might like a certain song because of the time and place where it's played. But when I really listen to something, it has to be with thought and integrity. You won't find any of those artists on the new album, but you never know if the futures brings a collaboration with Kendrick or Cole.

Fergie is currently working on her solo career, but she's still part of the group. Wasn't it weird to make an album without her after all these years?

No, it wasn't weird at all. We've been making music as a trio since the beginning. We've collaborated with different singers in the past and that's what we do now too. We are music architects and writers, so we can write in any situation. Like Wu-Tang Clan, which has members that are still in the group although they are working on their solo career, we have Fergie who is not featured on this album. We do have other female voices on the tracklist, such as Jessica Reynoso, Nicole Scherzinger and Esthero, who we collaborated with before in 2000.

Where Is The Love? was a song in which you guys brought a strong message to the world. Is that your priority when making music?

You might see it that way. It's not really the priority, but it's what we sometimes feel obligated to talk about because it's affecting our spirits. If something is happening in the world, we want to talk about it. Why stay silent when messed up things are happening with the people and in communities. We want to bring positivity in different types of forms. It could as well be a party song which talks about having fun all the time. But then there are songs such as Where Is The Love? that speak about society. It's still all about love and positivity, but in another form.

The video for Big Love is heavy to watch, did you guys get any bad responses on the video?

No, we didn’t get any bad responses because when people see the video, they see it as things that are actually happening in the world. The only thing we are doing is reflecting on what is actually happening with our children. Kids with parents who are trying to give them a better future, are taken away form their parents. And then there’s kids going to school, and having their life taken away from them although they just went there to learn. People see our video and sympathise. They see it and think “Wauw, thank you for speaking up about something where no one is talking about.”

Everyone would change the subject and go on to live in their bubble, and they forget about it. That’s not good for society. Everybody is afraid. The fact that people ask this question, means they too are afraid of the subject. But we are not, and we want to speak up and bring out the truth. Everybody wants to have good comments below their picture. They want to go on social media to talk about the good things, nobody goes on social media to talk about the bad things. We need to spread more truth, more optimism and more solutions to problems we have in society. And that’s why we made the video, so people can picture themselves in that situation and get to react. Because when it’s not happening to you, you don’t really see what’s going on.

Do you think your music, lyrics and videos might have an impact on people?

Yes, even songs like I Gotta Feeling have an impact. You don't always have to verbally say "Come together", to bring people together. You don't always have to say unity, to get unity. We have songs like I Gotta Feeling that accomplishes the same thing as Where Is The Love?. The last one is needed for when people are concerned, the first one when people want to come together but have no idea how. And then there are songs such as Big Love which people need when feeling aggressive about something. But everything is brought in a positive way. The whole idea behind our music is to bring people together, to have a good time and to have a conversation with each other. That's exactly what we do with this album too.

Masters of The Sun is available on all streaming services on October 26th all over the world. Check it out!

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