Hip-hop's superstars, the Black Eyed Peas, are all set to kick off this summer's foreign music line-up with their sold-out show in Tel Aviv on June 3 at Bloomfield Stadium. Some 16,000 tickets have been sold for what promises to be a high energy performance, and the Peas seem to be nearly as excited as their fans about their Israel stop, boasting about it on a recent episode of MTV's Total Request Live.
MCs William "will.i.am" Adams, Allen "apl.de.ap" Pineda, Jaime "Taboo" Gomez and Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson are making their Israeli debut. It doesn't matter that the group sings in English, Spanish and Filipino, nearly every Hebrew-speaking teenager here can rap their texts effortlessly.
Their infectious tunes are impossible to ignore. The Peas have four albums to date: Behind the Front (1998), Bridging the Gap (2000), Elephunk (2003), and Monkey Business (2005).
It was their third album that vaulted the multi-racial group to the spot of top hip-hop group across the globe. Elephunk sold a whopping 7.5 million units, scored four Grammy nominations, and one Grammy award.
Israelis really embraced the Peas with the release of Elephunk. Hits like "Where is the Love?", "Hey Mama" and "Let's Get It Started" quickly became mainstays on local radio rotations. The Jerusalem Post had given a heads up regarding the band back in 2000, when, during an interview with singer Macy Gray, the international star told the Post that among the numerous bands out there still making a name, her friends, Black Eyed Peas, should be watched closely.
The Peas stepped up the pace with Monkey Business, and their funky grooves propelled them to sell more than 8 million copies of their fourth release and achieve full-fledged superstardom.
The group's motto has always been, "making people have a good time."
Actually, it was this philosophy that first inspired the group back in the late 1990s.
Bandleader will.i.am, an African American, and apl.de.ap, of Filipino descent, were part of a breakdancing crew in high school. They split off on their own to form a hip-hop band called Atban Klann. In 1992 they signed with Ruthless Records and recorded an album that would eventually be shelved. Their music was peace-minded and socially conscious and their record label didn't know how to market something not dependent on violent "gangsta" themes.
Unconcerned by the experience, will and apl recruited dancer/MC, Taboo, of Mexican descent, and reappeared as the Black Eyed Peas. Vocalist Kim Hill backed up the trio on their acclaimed 1998 debut, Behind the Front, but parted ways with the gang after the sophomore album. In came Fergie, of Irish and Scottish descent, with a more pop beat in time for the third offering. Fergie was no stranger to the stage having been a former member of the teen pop band Wild Orchid, as well as a young actress on TV.
The Black Eyed Peas have collaborated along the way with the likes of Macy Gray, Justin Timberlake, Jurassic 5's Chali 2na, Wyclef Jean, and De La Soul.
Rumors last year said the group would be splitting up for solo projects, but now reports indicate that will.i.am and Fergie will finish up individual albums before the quartet puts together a new album as a group.
For the Black Eyed Peas, their local concert won't simply be an in-and-out affair. According to Hebrew media reports, the Peas are hoping to get a little touring in too. Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem are all on their itinerary, in addition to their Tel Aviv stopover for the concert.
As for those fans lucky enough to have a ticket, it should be noted that the Black Eyed Peas are renowned for their concert theatrics that include back flips and break dancing. With infectious hits including "Don't Phunk With My Heart" and "Shut Up", fans have what to be excited about.