The Black Eyed Peas are a Los Angeles-based rap group, initially composed of members will.i.am, Taboo, and apl.de.ap. Formed in 1995, they began as a less violent, socially conscious alternative to the gangsta rap acts of the time, though ironically signed by Eazy-E of N.W.A fame. Two albums were released in 1998 and 2000, to critical acclaim and modest sales.
In 2002, they were joined by a fourth member, Fergie,note formerly of the girl group Wild Orchid. By the time Elephunk and Monkey Business were released in 2003 and 2005, the group had changed entirely, moving towards a pop sound with Fergie placed front and center, and much simpler lyrical content. Their new style earned them numerous #1 hit singles and multi-platinum sales, to the point where some people didn't know they did anything pre-Elephunk.
The group took a hiatus from 2012-2014, before resuming work in 2015. In 2018, Fergie departed the group. In the same year, The Voice Philippines finalist Jessica Reynoso started touring with the group, adopting the stage name J Rey Soul.
Fergie, will.i.am, and Taboo have also branched out into acting careers. Meanwhile, apl.de.ap works to alleviate poverty in the Philippines through a foundation made in his name. will.i.am and apl.de.ap are also both coaches on different national versions of The Voice.
Current members in bold.
- will.i.am (1995-present)
- apl.de.ap (1995-present)
- Taboo (1995-present)
- J Rey Soul (2018-present)
- Fergie (20022018)
- Dante Santiago (1995)
- Kim Hill (19952000)
- Sierra Swan (19982000)
- Behind the Front (1998)
- Bridging the Gap (2000)
- Elephunk (2004)
- Monkey Business (2005)
- The E.N.D. (2009)
- The Beginning (2010)
- Masters of the Sun Vol. 1 (2018)
- Translation (2020)
Tropes found in their music include:
- Album Title Drop: "Pump It"Girls be all on us from London back down to the US
S-S, we rocking it (contagious)
Monkey business (outrageous)
- Analogy Backfire: "Imma Be", in which sperm banks are for withdrawals only, and not deposits.
- Auto-Tune: A frequent feature in their music, to the point that they were practically the poster child for the practice (and, potentially, a reason for its decline).
- Black and Nerdy: A part of will.i.am's persona.
- Blind Musician: apl.de.ap was legally blind due to nystagmus, which was surgically corrected in 2012.
- "Let's Get Retarded" was changed to "Let's Get It Started" on the radio, and the lyric "Bob your head like epilepsy" was changed to "Bob your head like me, apl.de." This version became so ubiquitous that quite few people don't know the original name of the song.
- "Hey Mama" was also edited quite a bit for the radio.
- "The true niggas know that the Peas come through" was changed to "the true people know...".
- "And then drop bombs like we in the Middle East" was changed to "and then drop bombs 'cuz we shaking to the beat".
- "Don't wanna squeeze triggers, just wanna squeeze tits" edited out "tits" and replaced it with a female moan, of all things.
- "Don't Phunk With My Heart" was censored as "Don't Mess With My Heart", largely due to radio stations concerned about the word "phunk" sounding too close to a Precision F-Strike, though most radio stations especially those outside the States did play the song unaltered. Interestingly enough, the Russian metalcore band Amatory covered the song as "Don't Fuck With My Heart".
- Broken Record: Todd in the Shadows decided to count how many times "Imma Be" is Title Dropped. It goes 106 times.
- Really, most choruses from The E.N.D. are this.I gotta feeling that tonight's gonna be a good night, that tonight's gonna be a good night, that tonight's gonna be a good good night... (repeat 12 times)
- Really, most choruses from The E.N.D. are this.
- Creator Provincialism: A number of songs and/or verses from apl.de.ap mention his country or its culture at least in passing.
- "Days of the Week" Song: "I Gotta Feeling" goes through them all (and Saturday, twice).
- Driven to Suicide: The last few bars of "APL Song" ("I guess sometimes life's stresses get you down/On your knees oh brother, wish I could have helped you out") is in reference to apl.de.ap's younger brother Arnel who committed suicide, with apl lamenting at how he was unable to come to his brother's aid before ending his life.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: will.i.am (phlegmatic), apl.de.ap (sanguine), Taboo (melancholic), and Fergie (choleric).
- Five-Token Band: African American will.i.am, Afro-Filipino apl.de.ap, Native American/Hispanic Taboo and Caucasian/Mexican/Native American Fergie. Continued with the addition of J Rey Soul, another Afro-Filipino.
- Fun with Acronyms: The E.N.D., which stands for "The Energy Never Dies".
- Genre Shift: Compare "BEP Empire", released in 2000, to "My Humps", released in 2005. You'd be forgiven if you thought they were from two different projects.
- Hyper-Destructive Bouncing Ball: In the video for "Pump It", Will.I.Am manages to invoke this with a soccer ball while fighting a thug.
- The song the page quote belongs to? It was released in March 2009. Who's two-thousand-and-late again?
- Also, the alleged reason for Kim Hill's departure from the BEP (and subsequently from the record label) was because of her music not being 'black' enough. She was replaced in the group, of course, by Fergie...who is white.note
- Kids Rock: "Where Is The Love?" includes this as part of the song's Think of the Children! ethos.
- Lesser Star: Taboo and apl.de.ap, at least now - in their pre-Fergie days, they did just as much as will.i.am.
- Mostly Taboo, both have been reduced to a rap part in the songs (his ostensibly small role is spoofed by The Key of Awesome), but Apl has more of them, and has even made a couple songs that feature only him with will doing the music.
- Todd in the Shadows tagged them as "Andrew Ridgeley" and "Pras" in his review of "Imma Be".
- Local Reference: Apl tends to do this at times where he brings in references to his home country in some songs.
- Ms. Fanservice: Fergie. J.Rey Soul took this part when Fergie left.
- Multilingual Song: A few. Most prominently "The Apl Song" whose Filipino-language chorus is borrowed from the 1979 song "Balita" ("News") by folk rock band Asin ("Salt").note .
- Translation is all about this, featuring a more Latin sound and guest stars.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: In the second music video for "Bebot" Apl.de.Ap does this for his sister Jasmine.
- New Sound Album: Elephunk, which featured a more radio-friendly pop sound; The E.N.D., which sees them incorporate dance and techno music; Masters of the Sun Vol. 1, which sees the group go back to their early sound; Translation, which features a reggaeton sound.
- Off-the-Shelf FX: In the music video for "Rock That Body", the "stereo guns" the band members use are Nerf blasters that have been painted dark gray and modified to superficially resemble loudspeakers and subwoofers. The blasters are as follows:
- An unloaded Longshot CS-6. Used by will.i.am.
- The barrel attachment that's boxed alongside the aforementioned Longshot. Used by Fergi.
- The Maverick REV-6. Dual-wielded by apl.de.ap.
- The Firefly REV-8. Used by Taboo.
- Parenthetical Swearing: "Don't Phunk With My Heart".
- Protest Song: "Where Is the Love?", "Union" and "Street Livin'", the latter being a Take That! to Donald Trump where he is depicted in the music video as riding a limousine while protesters snarl at him.
- Revisiting the Roots: Masters of the Sun Vol. 1 is the first album since Fergie's departure from the group, and sees the original trio go back to the boom bap sound of their first two albums while still maintaining a degree of pop sensibility.
- Rhyming with Itself: "Where Is The Love?" rhymes Mama with... Mamas.
- I Gotta Feeling rhymes up with up! They seem to do this trope frequently.
- Scatting: "Ga Ra Ta Da" and "Friddy Dope", both for Urbz: Sims In The City.
- Shout-Out: The wireframe heads in the video for Boom Boom Pow and the cover of The E.N.D. is an allusion to Kraftwerk's Musique-Non Stop and cover to "Electric Café/Techno Pop".
- Skyscraper Messages: The music video for "Where Is The Love?" has lights spell out a question mark.
- The Smurfette Principle: The band has had a single female vocalist, Kim Hill from 1995 to 2000, Fergie from 2002 to 2016 and J. Rey Soul from 2018 to the present.
- Spicy Latina: "Girl Like Me", a collaborative single with Shakira, pays tribute to that image of Latina women, with the lyrics talking about them being passionate women and great lovers.
- Spin-Off Babies: The Superbowl commercials for Chatter feature them as this with apparently a whole series of it at an associated website.
- Step Up to the Microphone: "TONTA LOVE" is all performed by J.Rey Soul.
- Stuffy Old Songs About the Buttocks: "My Humps". A song about a woman who uses her breasts and buttocks to get what she wants.
- Take That!:
- A possibly unintentional example in the beginning of the music video for Imma Be, where the group has an argument about computerized "AI" music, which acts by inputting one's voice and the lyrics, and the process taking all the soul out of the music. Sounds pretty familiar, huh?
- The music video for "Street Livin'" ends with a shot of Donald Trump in the presidential limo as a riot ensues outside.
- Those Two Guys: Taboo and apl.d.ap. fit this as the two members of the band who get the least individual attention.
- Three Minutes of Writhing: Fergie in most music videos.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Imma Be", "The Time (Dirty Bit)" and "Just Can't Get Enough" all feature (slightly unexpected) song changes.
- Unusual Euphemism: "Let's Get Retarded," the lesser-known original version of what would become "Let's Get It Started." To "get retarded" is another term for getting drunk and having careless fun (basically what the expression "get turned up" became), hence the other lyrics "Let's get ig'nant, let's get hectic" and "Get into it, get stupid." It's safe to assume why the band isn't too bothered by this version being forgotten.
- Visual Pun: Guess what the cover art◊ for the "Imma Be" single is. Go on, guess.
- Vocal Tag Team: Both Fergie and will.i.am have had several turns on lead vocals, while apl.de.ap and Taboo sometimes throw in a rap too. Also on "Hit It" Will and Lele Pons share vocals on the chorus.
- Yiddish as a Second Language: "I Gotta Feeling".Fill up your cup! (Drank!)