Back when I was in college, there was a little song that didn’t really get a lot of play called “BEP Empire”. It was all about the state of hip hop and how everyone was selling out. The song’s video reminded me a lot “What They Do“, by The Roots- another great song commenting on the state of hip hop. I’d never heard of Black Eyed Peas before, and discovered that they were a pretty solid band. You can’t beat catchy hooks, slick jazzy funk beats and conscious hip hop lyrics. It was right up my alley. Now I look at them and ask myself “what the hell happened?” How did this band with so much potential for greatness degrade into one of the biggest sellout artists of the century? The article below is a look at the Black Eyed Peas and their rise from a small conscious hip hop groups to a super pop/dance quartet. It’s definitely one of the most bizarre evolutions I’ve ever seen, and angers me every time I think about it.
BEP had been around since 95, but didn’t get signed on until 3 years later. They were a trio that used their different backgrounds (african, latin, phillipino) to fuse together a jazzy sound that was unique to them. Their first single got little to no airplay, but was all about bringing back some class to hip hop.
From “Head Bobs”:
Nowadays brothers are getting paid doing nothing
Reciting the same line with the lame rhymes
frontin rappers actin like their pops’ was Orville Redenbacher
They quick to go pop
You can find the actual video, but the audio quality is crap. It’s not bad and shows the group as not only a bunch of talented musicians, but dancers too.
Their second single got a little more airplay, and had a woman singing the hook. This was to be a theme for a majority of BEP’s music, except the women would vary from track to track.
Joints & Jam:
Another solid track showcasing the group’s talent.
The next album, Bridging the Gap, featured an assortment of artists, and really put BEP on the map. Mos Def, Wyclef Jean, De La Soul, Macy Gray, & Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na all made guest appearances on the album, making the album hold some serious weight. Songs like BEP Empire solidified Black Eyed Peas as the anti-bling group and was opposed to the idea of selling out and made serious attempts to keep their craft “genuine”.
It’s almost too funny watching this video now, considering what BEP has become.
So what happened? It’s really hard to say. I think everyone knows the story about how BEP was recording their new album and someone invited Fergie to try out as a backup singer, but it doesn’t explain why they FUCKING SUCK now. There is literally only two songs that come close to resembling Black Eyed Peas, Where’s the Love, and Let’s Get Retarded.
Now everyone can produce a terrible album. It happens to most artists. But the whole ‘retarded’ fiasco really told of what was going on behind the scenes. There are people now that think the original version was called “Let’s Get It Started” and “retarded” was put there as a joke. It’s amazing how fast people can forget. Considering the first line of the song is “In this context, there’s no disrespect,” it’s kind of hard to make the connection between this line and the new title. I guess it doesn’t matter when you’re in a club though. Regardless of the song title, when this song is pumping, everyone is singing “let’s get retarded”.
Now that BEP had a shitload of singles and a ton of money from their new found fame, you’d think that they’d start spitting some hard hitting lyrics about the state of hip hop, or social issues (like “Where’s the Love“). Nope. It only got worse:
What the fuck? Please tell me you’re kidding…
The fucked up part is that on the same album, they’ve got a track with James Brown (I’m pretty sure it’s the last thing he ever did), where they brutally make fun of their new fans. In the song, they completely admit they are shills but can’t do anything about. Lame, but what a great song:
James Brown, even as a coked up fogey can still rock the mic.
So the kids don’t want music, they just want Boom Boom Pow? Okay. Here ya go!
Sweet fucking Jesus. If this is the future sound, kill me now.
I may just be 2000 and late. For some insane reason, this album is selling like hot cakes. I just don’t get it. It’s fucking weak.
I really thought that BEP was going to dump Fergie and go back to their old style once they were popular. Now they release “The E.N.D”. which stands for Energy Never Dies- meaning, they’re going to continue to produce this crap until they are physically dead. Be prepared to suffer with this shit for years to come.
All I can say is what they have already said: “There ain’t no running from karma.” I wish you the best BEP. Now stop producing this shit and give me a MUTHA FUCKIN BREAKDOWN!