What if I told you there was a band that formed in 1988, but you never heard of them until two decades later? I’m guessing the biggest music fans out there would argue that’s impossible. And maybe for the die-hards out there, you won’t be as surprised by today’s band. But twenty years of not much recognition, followed by ten years of lots of albums sales and various hiatuses, they’re now one of the most recognizable names in pop music.
will.i.am and apl.de.ap met in 1988 when they attended the same middle school near Los Angeles. They started making music, and just four years later were signed to Ruthless Records run by rap pioneer Eazy-E. A few members were added and the band was called A Tribe Beyond A Nation. A debut album was set to release in 1995, but was put on hold after Eazy-E’s death. Shortly thereafter ATBAN reformed again, and changed their name to the Black Eyed Pods—and then Black Eyed Peas. Another five years went by, and a couple albums were released, but no major success was garnered. In 2002, Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson was added, their third studio album was released, and finally some attention was sent their way.
Today we look at the fourth studio release, Monkey Business which was released in June of 2005. It took nearly two years to record, and has sold nearly 10 million copies worldwide. The success was nearly instant because of the debut single ‘Don’t Phunk with my Heart’ seeing so much airplay nationwide. Personally, I really enjoy some of the sampling as well, mainly a big shout out to Dick Dale’s version of ‘Miserlou’ featured in the track ‘Pump It.’ In spite of the commercial accomplishments, critics weren’t overly kind to the album or the band. Many mocked the poor lyrical content with one critic describing it as “one of the most embarrassing rap performances of the new millennium.”
For me, I think the critics had this one all mixed up. Calling this is a rap album is quite misguided. The addition of Fergie transitioned this band from grassroots hip-hop to pop with street cred. And when you look at this album from the pop perspective, it hits all the marks. The beats are extremely catchy and it’s an album that every 20-something was singing along to in the car ten years ago. It certainly isn’t going to win any song writing contests, but that’s generally not what pop music is all about. The toe-tapping nature of this album is what made it a success, and the Black Eyed Peas have continued to make that brand of music ever since.
BEP is still out there, but they’ve taken several years off to pursue solo projects. None of them individually have seen the success the band has—but that hasn’t stopped them from trying. I’m not sure these guys revolutionized music by any means, but I think they’ve been a solid pop act for the last decade. And for me, Monkey Business is well worth $5 bucks and a listen today.
Top 3 Tracks: