Friday, April 6, 2018

The Black Eyed Peas Return To Their Roots on "Street Livin’”

In the wake of the volatile political climate in the U.S., the Black Eyed Peas have put their good-time party music on hold for the moment to drop some serious street knowledge. On the powerful new track, “Street Livin’,” the multiplatinum-selling group takes on a slew of burning social issues—including systemic racism, immigration, gun violence, drug trafficking, black-on-black crime, police brutality and the prison-industrial complex. The track effectively brings home the harsh realities of daily life in the inner city.

“Street Livin’”–BEP’s first single in seven years—boasts a haunting, jazz-infused beat, which samples the intro from Os Catedráticos’ song “Pouca Duração." And, and Taboo deliver their rap verses with flair, power and conviction. (Fergie did not participate in the recording of “Street Livin’,” as she was busy working on her solo album The Dutchess and Double Dutchess. She has since left the group.) "Street Livin'" was written by,, Taboo and Joshua Alverez.

People who were only familiar with BEP's dance-pop hits were taken aback when the group released this unflinching, hard-hitting rap track in January. However, what many of BEP's young fans aren’t aware of is that the group released a great deal of socially conscious material in their early pre-Fergie days in the late ‘90s; and their alternative hip-hop sound was much different from the electronic, auto-tune-heavy party hits that they’re best known for. The group employed sparse, stripped down-beats that melded soul, jazz and funk on those ‘90s cuts.

When Fergie joined the Black Eyed Peas in 2002, the group changed up its sound and, for the most part, dropped its socially conscious themes and began releasing commercial pop radio-friendly tracks. BEP mastermind/leader hit on a winning dance-pop/hip-hop/EDM formula that made the group a household name. The songs were catchy and fun but lacked the depth and seriousness of the BEP’s early material. Not surprisingly, the group caught some flack as being “sellouts” from many of their early hardcore fans.

“Street Livin,’ is a step in the right direction to possibly win back some of those former fans. The overall response to the track has been very positive with many applauding the group’s return to more serious themes. Party tracks are cool, but it’s good for music artists to sometimes take a step back and take a hard look at the world around them and write about it. They have a huge platform that most people don't have and can reach many with just one song. BEP took that step back, and what they saw wasn’t pretty—and they dropped “Street Livin.”

However, the Black Eyed Peas members didn’t suddenly become “re-woke.” They have long been supporters of a number of charity foundations, educational programs, human rights causes and philanthropic endeavors; and they have established several foundations of their own, which work toward helping people in disadvantaged communities and providing better educational opportunities for young people in those areas. Their foundations also address human rights issues, both domestically and abroad.

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