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The Black Eyed Peas
If we lived in a music world where talent was the only currency recognized, the Black Eyed Peas would be dominating every chart, airwave and house party on earth. Laced with spiritual insights and social commentary, their hip-hop sound has become a global phenomenon, the likes of which people have rarely seen. The early '90s saw an influx of socially conscious, artistically minded hip hop and rap groups, the most visible being Arrested Development, Marky Mark and Will Smith, but none as big as this group.

The band's been in the spotlight constantly, since the release of 2003's Elephunk. First the band publicly backed John Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004, and performed along with James Taylor, Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow and others at Kerry's election night rally in Boston. Then their song Let's Get Retarded was restyled as Let's Get it Started for an NBA finals worldwide commercial. New lyrics gave the tune a basketball theme, as opposed to the original's theme dealing with getting heavily intoxicated and partying and the spot featured Carlos Santana. The revised song had great success as a single, especially popular on apples iTunes music download service where it hit number one. Another thing to arise in the media recently was the story of band member's childhood. Hailing from a poor family in Pampanga, Philippines, he sadly parted with them to live a better life in the US at the age of 14. The Apl Song, with the chorus written in Tagalog, told that story of And then there was that unforgettable live performance at this year's 2005 Grammy Awards ceremony who can forget that?

Let me tell you why this is one of the essential hip-hop records of the year. After spending two months recording in London and a year touring the globe, the Peas have finally completed an album that features powerhouse guests such as Sting, Justin Timberlake and even James Brown. It doesn't get any bigger than that. Titled Monkey Business, the album's first single Don't Phunk With My Heart, is already a major hit in the US currently at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single is also at #3 in the UK, #5 in Canada, and #1 in Australia. We managed to catch up with the Peas themselves and find out what all the fuss was about for as usual only one publication in India was given an all access pass - courtesy their music company Universal Music. This is what they had to say…

The Record: Monkey Business is the name of the new record. Is that a pun intended on the music business?
Taboo: Monkey Business doesn't really refer to the music could be like monkeying know you're in a bedroom with a know monkeying around...monkey business…( Laughs) One day we were in Paris and in a van...and we were loading up the van and a whole bunch of kids came to the van and started banging on the windows...and looking in and stuff…and then Taboo said….
Taboo: I said damn I feel like a know you go to a zoo and there are like little monkeys in a cage....that's what we felt we were…and that's where that came from…
Fergie: Our schedule was so hectic for Elephunk...that a lot of times, you know when everyone was booking...there wasn't enough time for we thought we were like you know circus monkeys being booked...

TR: So what's the new album all about? Monkey Business is very much about the types of songs we play live. It's about a party. In going on the road for so long, we got an idea of what kind of music we wanted to play and make. We lived in London for two months while we toured Europe. We would fly back and forth on weekends to Finland, Germany and France…and record during the week. And, along the way, we recorded in Brazil, Japan and Australia as well. It's layered differently and has energy to it that reflects how we tour, from the beats to the types of instruments we used to how we interact with the audience. It's very much about us and the crowd on this record…(Laughs)

TR: Was it difficult to get back in the studio after the success of your last album? Creative wise how has the progression been? We're lucky for our record company Interscope never interferes in the process of recording...they come in after you've finished your recording and then they give you their opinion on what songs come first or you know...and their vision on what songs come first is the same with ours...their concerns on the groups longevity and their positioning on our brand in the know they're real careful with we can be as creative as possible. This record is blow-for-blow better than Elephunk in the creativity, the substance and the groove. It's edgier, a lot faster and more thought-provoking. This is a hip-hop record but we didn't go into this with hip-hop on our mind. We were just thinking of good songs, good music…
Fergie: It was really cool for me, being the first time I was there from the beginning to the end of an album… (Laughs)

TR: The first single Don't Phunk With My Heart is a big hit already. What's the song all about? It's inspired by Bollywood music...the scale of it is our take on Indian music writing... (Laughs) The songs all about when you're on bad terms with a significant other, you don't want to break up. You tell her things and at the time you really mean them. But she's saying, stop f****ing with me….

TR: Justin Timberlake's back again this time to jam with you guys. Plus you've got a host of other big names even the legendary James Brown on this album. How did that happen? The last album just had Justin Timberlake and John this time around we just added a few more. It just feels a lot because it's James Brown and Sting...those are like heavy legends over boom boom...mommy, mommy, mommy!!! (Laughs) With James Brown, you have history. He's the godfather of everything. We met in the UK, at the Mojo Awards, and we talked about working together. I remember when we recorded; I played him the beat all nervous and everything. We all sat in the room and he nodded his head and grunted in approval. Any fan of hip-hop knows that the music's backbone is based entirely on James Brown. Timberlake and we get along real well and he sees music in a very similar way. Plus, he's just a good dude…
Fergie: James Brown came to the studio one Monday, entourage and all. Everyone dressed to the nines. His hair, no hair out of place. He's got his background singers, his horn section. We did it all old-school. The way they used to do it. We got everyone in the room. It was crazy! Crazy! I guess we're so excited with the success of Elephunk that we thought, 'Wow, we actually have a chance to work with these people who are legends to us. If you don't do it now, when are you going to do it...

You can read the rest of our cover story on The Black Eyed Peas in the June 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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