Back on April 15th I had this to say about them:
Black Eyed Peas’ biggest innovation was becoming a vertically integrated crap factory. They cover all the bases for a pop group and don’t need any outside help. They’ve got the rapper/singer guy, two other rappers who are so forgettable that people could very easily mistake them for guest stars and a white woman singer. Brilliant marketing strategy!
I thought I’d take the time to elaborate, because they are really interesting, in a business strategy meeting sort of way.
Now this territory has been pretty well covered- see this article in Wall Street Journal- The Most Corporate Band in America. Their story has been pretty well covered- from Los Angeles “conscious” rappers to party band.
I’ve never been a big fan of “conscious rap”. You’d think I would be, but other than a handful of records- The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, or 3 Feet High and Rising, some KRS-1 or Public Enemy- I find it mostly tedious. So I ignored the BEP back then. And I suspect a lot of people did.
At some point they added Fergie and started writing big hits. You can still hear their “consciousness” (?) in their first big hit Where is the Love? A song that might have been insightful if it had come out in 1991.
But from here on out, they were a vertically integrated crap factory.
I shouldn’t call their music crap. Sometimes I enjoy it.
So we’ll just go with vertically integrated. Which for rap is rare. By vertically integrated, I mean, they write, sing, produce, rap, dance. This is unremarkable for a band, but for a rap group, this is rare. Even being a rap group in 2013 is a novelty. But most rappers have someone else make the beats. Someone else produce the record. They’ll bring in someone to sing the hooks. They’ll bring in other rappers. Lots of rappers even bring in ghost writers to write their raps for them.
The BEP have their main guy, will.i.am, a great beat producer and mediocre rapper. Fergie, who needs no introduction. And those other two guys, whose names are like Taboo and AppleDapple. I’m too lazy to look it up, even though I have the BEP’s wiki in a separate tab. No one pays any attention to those two, except I felt kind of sad for Taboo when his robot suit during that Super Bowl halftime show they did had a big heart on it. I don’t know why that dude agreed to that outfit, unless he’s like Peter Criss and is just too loaded to know how silly he looks*.
Their next big hit, as I remember it was Let’s Get it Started. You couldn’t write a better opening songs for TV sporting events if you tried.
I actually like that song. It’s catchy, it builds tension going into the chorus. It’s dumb, but fun. It was originally title Let’s Get Retarded. Someone at their record label must have said that title was a bad idea. Speaking of dumb, but fun, I am going to destroy any credibility I have by saying on the record what my favorite BEP song is. This.
Hoo boy. OK, let’s start with the fact that the lyrics are stooooopid. Sooo stooopid. Especially when will.I.am starts rapping. milky milky right… no dude, milky milky not right.
I can’t help it. I love all things trashy, and BEP never got trashier than this.
(cute parenting anecdote- my son loved this song. He was about 4 and I he was watching it on the computer. I kept hearing him rewind to the same part. I ask him “dude, watcha watching there?” Skip ahead to 3:19 to find out. Heh heh)
OK, so that song is stupid. And most of their songs are stupid. will.i.am is a terrible rapper**, but again, a great beatmaker, and at the very least, their songs are fun. There is, however, one bit of hackishness that I cannot forgive, beyond stealing the hook from cheesy 80’s tunes-
Other than this song, which is terrible, there is one thing they do a little too often. I don’t even know if there is a term for it. UH, Ironmanning?
By this, I mean, matching each vocal note to the music. It’s not a terrible thing. Ironman is a great song. You Really Got Me is a great song. But there’s a limit to how much of this I can take. BEP do it so damn often.
STOP RIDING THE NOTES! LET THE SONG BREATHE!
I kind of feel bad for giving the BEP a hard time here. They’re just fun, good time music. They’re certainly not starting any violent feuds or anything. They’re hacks, but so I am.
I am out of things to say so I’ll hit publish.
*I have no evidence that Taboo is taking any drugs or anything, I’m just making a joke. I don’t think he’s a bad rapper either nor is AppleDapple. They’re probably better than will.i.am. But for whatever reason, they’re just not that memorable.
He raps this:
I’m a big baller you a little smaller
step up to my level you need to grow a little taller
I’ma shot caller
get up off my collar
you are Chihuahua I’ma rottweiler
I was a door to door salesman for like a week and every morning there was a pep meeting and I swear he borrowed this from the little pep jingle we’d recite.