Black Eyed Peas are set to release their long awaited new album Masters Of The Sun Friday October 26.
Their 7th studio album, is a return to the group’s hip hop roots reminiscent of their earlier material and will feature collaborations with C.L, Nicole Scherzinger and hip hop icon Nas. The trio are also set to embark on a European Tour in support of the album, which kicks off next weekend in London.
CelebMix were lucky enough to talk to band member Taboo who spoke to us candidly on a number of topics and explained to us the direction that the group were going for in their latest release which comes 20 years after their debut.
Masters of The Sun, will be The Peas first European tour in over 8 years. How excited are you to get back on the road?
From 2011 to 2014 we took a break to work on individual projects and it was crazy because in 2014, I got diagnosed with Cancer and I had to fight for my life. All that summer I had chemotherapy and the two things that were on my mind the whole time I was fighting for my life I was like ‘I gotta make it for my wife and my kids, I gotta get through this’ and the second thing that kept me fighting on and the second thing was like ‘I gotta get back on that stage because I love Will and Apl’, that’s like my livelihood.
So fortunately we created an album called Masters of The Sun and we started talking about the up and coming ways we can do a tour and when we found out we were going to tour UK & Europe first, I was elated I got a second chance of life and for me I’m going back to touring after the trauma I experienced, the nightmare I experienced and it’s a blessing and my prayers have been answered being able to get back on stage.
Last week saw World Mental Health Day. What are your opinions on the media’s approach to Mental Health and do you have any words for those that are struggling?
It’s unfortunate as Mental health is not a thing that’s a big concern to the ‘powers that be’. It feels like you need to start a support group of people because Mental Health doesn’t just have to mean being bi-polar. It can be anything. It could be the stress and trauma of overcoming Cancer and having to go through Chemotherapy and having the Chemo brain. For me, I address these issues, the mental wellness of life after cancer because I did have to cope with the trauma I went through because there was a mental fatigue as well alongside the physical.
I would say to folks going through that, that they’re not alone, I feel like there’s a lot of us that are learning how to cope with it, learning how to deal with it and talking to other people has helped me on my journey. I go tho therapy because I felt like I needed that, I needed to be able to speak about my layers, my issues and the trauma I’ve experienced to know what I’m dealing with and why I was feeling like this and crying uncontrollably. When somebody says something, why does that word trigger an emotion or feeling? These are the things I had to really dive into to really understand knowledge itself and understand myself as a Cancer Survivor but also a person that does suffer from mental trauma.
As a family man with a wife and four children, is being away on tour more difficult than it once was?
You know what, it is! Because 2 of my children were born after Black Eyed Peas went on hiatus so they don’t really know the Black Eyed Peas world.
Last week was the first time they saw us perform at the Indigenious People and I brought my daughter and she was like ‘woah, what is this’ because there was a lot of people in the audience. This was the first time she experienced the Black Eyed Peas. So yes it’s harder now because I have my little ones and I am so connected to my daughter.
My boys are older now so they’re cool but my daughter is always asking for me that’s the hard one. Being away from my wife is difficult but she’s so strong, she’s the rock to our family and keeps everything in place when I’m gone. I commend her because she definitely keeps it together while I’m out there touring. Even though, i’m on the road, I have moments to myself. My wife doesn’t have moments to herself, she’s with the kids 24-7 and that’s hard for me. It’s difficult but we have a great system because we have FaceTime and are able to see each other there every day.
For those, who haven’t never been to those to a Black Eyed Peas show. What can they expect?
First of all, if you’ve never been to a Black Eyed Peas show, I want to let you know that the energy we possess and have had since 1995 when we became a group, we still have that. What you see on stage is me, Will and Apl’s friendship since we were teenagers and along with that we’re bringing new music which is awesome.
It’s one thing to be doing a tour where you’re performing only the hits that people know but we’re bring new music to the table and introducing people to our new frequency which is basically our old frequency because our first album came out in 1998 and it was very reminiscent of Masters Of The Sun. Masters Of The Sun is paying homage to our earlier work in ’98 when we had ‘Joints and Jams’, ‘Fallin’ Up’ and ‘Que Dices’ and this was before Elephunk and ‘Where is the Love’ – we had two albums prior to that but a lot of people don’t know that.
It’s fun because we always have a female component to the Black Eyed Peas family. In ’98 we had Kim Hill who was touring with us as well then we had Macy Gray, we had Esthero then on Elephunk we had Debbie Nova, Stacy Ferguson who was then to become Fergie and now we have a new female on the new album Jessica Reynoso who is amazingly talented. She is youthful, she’s a young girl from the Phillipines that Apl adopted and brought to the United States to give her an opportunity of a lifetime just like his adopted father gave him in 1989 when he adopted him from the Phillipines. Apl is paying it forward by giving Jessica whose kinda like his daughter an opportunity to share her talents with the world through The Black Eyed Peas, it’s beautiful.
You guys seem to have great chemistry!
She kills probably my favourite song on the album ‘Constant’. It’s so dope and when her part comes on, she takes it to another level. We start off on this A Tribe Called Quest and J.Dillla Beat and then it goes into this transition and you see the Black Eyed Peas dancing first and then Jessica kills it out of nowhere. That was purposely done to pay homage to our earlier work because we want to reintroduce the world to how we started. We are celebrating out 20th anniversary of Behind The Front and a lot of folks, like the masses probably didn’t know we had Behind The Front and Bridging The Gap but people like you who are actually students and want to research who we are, you know about Behind The Front.
We are taking off our hats and saying even if the world doesn’t feel this trio this is where it’s at and we are going to introduce to the world to this new family member Jessica Reynoso and if you rock with it, cool and if you don’t, cool.
We got love for everybody and we’re going to continue touring and continue making music and this is how we do it..
You have a dedicated fanbase known as the Peabodies. What’s your relationship like with them?
I have so much love for the Peabodies, because they rock with us no matter what. Even when we’re on solo projects or when we’re DJing, it don’t matter you always see a Peabody showing support to individuals or the unit.
It was hard going from 1998 to when we first came out we had Kim Hill with us and our sound was very jazzy hip hop and 1999 we did Bridging The Gap, again jazzy hip hop and then in 2003 we released Elephunk and introduced the world to a new female component named Stacy which is Fergie and we didn’t know how people were going to react with it.
A lot of people were were like saying they weren’t rocking with it, weren’t buying the new component and that it wasn’t Black Eyed Peas with that being said we lost a lot of our hardcore fanbase we had built from 1995 to ‘2003 and it was OK ’cause then we brought in new fans which was more like a mass appeal.
So then now in 2018, we’re introducing the world to the new frequency, like I said it’s the old frequency and reintroducing the world to the trio and giving Jessica the platform to do her own thing.
It’s amazing we can do it twenty something years later and still sustain our friendship and the willingness to go on the road and that hunger, it’s what we choose to do. It’s not we like we have to outdo what we do in the past, we’re not trying to outdo ‘I Gotta Feeling’, we’re not trying to outdo ‘Pump It’ or ‘Let’s Get It Started’ we already did that, we know that world. Now it’s about going back to the roots, going back to the foundations and having a good time with the music we love.
We think it’s the best album to date because the Peabodies rock with us no matter what. No matter what type of album, style or component we have to touring, they always rocking with us and that’s why they are are so essential and important to us.
Each of the tracks you’ve dropped recently seem to have come with a strong message behind them. Can we expect this to be an underlying theme on Masters Of The Sun?
We do have socially conscious songs such as ‘Street Livin’, we do have songs like ‘Get It’ that we released but on the album we have ‘Big Love’. Big Love’ and ‘Ring The Alarm’ are the two songs that are heavy, because of what we’re talking about and the visual component of ‘Big Love’ particularly.
It’s hard to watch, and that’s why we it said ‘warning – this film is going to be hard to watch’ but it should be hard to watch because we want you guys to know what is going on in the world , and if you don’t see what’s going on in the United States with the mass shootings then you won’t understand – you’re just in lala land and partying. Right now we’re not in party mode, we’re not in ‘Fill up your Cup, Mozoltov’ mode, that’s not where we are at. We are trying to let people know that there are some serious issues happening not only around the world but in United States with the mass shootings, illegal immigration, even Native Americans not being able to vote is a big issue right now and it hits home because I am a Native American and I have to do something about it.
I have to speak out and make sure that it’s known we’re the first people on the land, now we’re getting the right of the vote taken away which is horrible. Not to be on a tangent but these are the issues we’re dealing with so we wanted to address these. The other components of the music are very hip hop, jazz based and we wanted to make it very reminiscent of ‘Behind The Front’ our earlier album as we are celebrating our 20th anniversary of the record.
Which of your past body of work is your favourite?
We have a song called ‘Yesterday ‘ which set the tone for this album. We never released it commercially, or for monetary use. We just put it out to pay our homage to our hip hop roots. I would say the video to that is my favourite and second would be ‘Constant’.
It’s been over 15 years since the release of ‘Where Is The Love’ and the song is just as relevant today as when it was first released. What can we do as human beings to make the world a better place to live in?
We need to activate people to vote, that’s a big thing here in the United States. The climate, the change has to start with activating folks to get out there, do their part and vote, make changes in their house representatives, legislators, things that people neglect because they don’t think they can make a difference – it does.
We need people to be activated, we need folks to unite and do their part whether it’s speaking as far as being active in your communities. I’m not saying you need to be violent or protesting because protesting is definitely a part of activism but there’s got to be more than just marching because that’s just one component. Having a code or a code action like what we had in ‘Big Love’ was to go out and vote, especially for issues you’re passionate about, for us it’s gun reform, illegal immigration, police brutality, these are the issues we address head on with the conversation and the narrative that Black Eyed Peas are on. We infuse art and activism to speak on these issues and we need more people to be active.
What music have you been listening to recently?
I’m going to tell you something that I just really got exposed to while being in Puerto Rico. There’s a style of music that’s been around for many years but is back bigger and better now. There’s this guy named Residente, his name is René, he had a group called Calle 13 in Puerto Rico. This guy is probably my most inspirational MC, songwriter, musician – he’s amazing. He has a Netflix movie about music and his ancestry. He inspired me so much in Puerto Rico that every chance I get, I’ll speak about him.
On another note, just feel good music there’s a style called Reggaeton, people like Bad Bunny, Nicky Jam, Ozuna, J Balvin, Farruko, there is all these amazing,rad artists. Daddy Yankee, Jumbo the producer.
I met these cats in Puerto Rico just a few days ago and I was blown away by what’s happening with this sound and how it makes people move. It’s like dancehall – reggae but it’s Spanish and it’s got this dope flavour, they utilise trap drums, dancehall rhythms with this Spanish flavour and I was really blown away by this movement because I was immersed in it. I’m not a big Reggaeton guy but once I went to Puerto Rico, I became a fan.
Do you have a message for your supporters?
Thank you guys for supporting us from Day 1 and for those new supporters that have been supporting us from Elephunk we really appreciate you guys rocking with us. For the peabodies that have been rocking with us since 1998, you’re going to love Masters Of The Sun, it’s very reminiscent of that era and we made this album specifically for you guys.
We hope you enjoyed reading our chat with Taboo. Don’t forget head to the visit the band’s official website for more info on the album & upcoming tour.