Apl de ap makes his move

Black Eyed Peas rapper aims to get party started as he rocks Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds with a live DJ set.

Black Eyed Peas (photo credit: DAVID BRINN)
Black Eyed Peas
(photo credit: DAVID BRINN)
Whenever the Black Eyed Peas go on one of their frequent hiatuses, resident rapper/DJ Apl de ap doesn’t idly sit around twiddling his thumbs. He gets them – and everyone around him – up and dancing.
Like will.i.am, Fergie and Taboo, his colleagues in one of the world’s most successful groups, the Philippines-born versatile singer and drummer is utilizing the downtime to indulge in what he does best – make music.
“Every two album cycles, we take a break – we’re not broken up,” said Apl last week from the south of France where he was preparing to hit the DJ booth for a party.
“We’re all just doing our own individual side projects, which helps to keep things fresh when we get back together.”
The 37-year-old Apl – born Allan Pineda Lindo, Jr.– is setting his targets on Israel next, where he’ll be the featured DJ Monday night at the “I Gotta Feeling” party taking place at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds. Apl will host a number of other DJs including Dmitir Vegas & Like Mike, DJ Nicolaz from Tomorrowland, and Tel Aviv DJs Yuval Zach and Roy Rosenfeld at the event, which is being touted by producers David Stern and Lollyprod as featuring state-of-the-art 3D effects broadcast on oversized screens.
“It’s going to be a combination concert and party. I’ll be playing lots of Black Eyed Peas songs, DJ’ing, singing here and there, and getting the crowd involved,” said Apl, who added that he feels equally comfortable at the halftime stage of the Super Bowl, where Black Eyed Peas performed in 2011, or in the DJ booth of a club.
“To me, it’s pretty much the same thing – I just love playing music. But the cool thing about DJ’ing is that I get to play other people’s music, I can mix it up between our songs and a variety of musical genres. It also enables me to be more intimate with the audience.”
Apl probably won’t need to work too hard to induce the Tel Aviv crowd to stir things up. Thanks to the Black Eyed Peas’ performances here in 2006 and 2007, and their refreshingly unabashed affection for the country and Jewish culture (their joyous shout of “Mazal tov” in their hit “I Gotta Feeling”; their in-concert performance of “Hava Nagila”), they’re a favorite with Israeli audiences.
“We’ve been here for five days, and that’s been the best five days of our lives,” will.i.am announced during their last show here in 2007, reciting a list of aspects of the country he loved, from the landscape, to the tight-knit character of family life, to “the most beautifullest [sic] women on the planet.” Fergie piped in that Israel was “one of the most fun places on the planet.”
Apl still looks back on the visit with affection.
“We’ve had great experiences in Israel – besides traveling around, we got to go to some clubs. We didn’t really know how the nightlife would be in Tel Aviv, and we were surprised how big the party was and what a high level the clubs and music were at,” he said. “And our show was one of the most memorable of our career.”
His time here wasn’t his first exposure to Israel, however, Apl revealed. “When Will and I were growing up in Los Angeles, his girlfriends were always Israeli, so we’d always be hanging out with Israelis in LA.”
Interest in Israeli girls wasn’t the only bond between Apl and Will. Following an impoverished childhood in the Philippines, Apl arrived in Los Angeles at age 14 thanks to aid from the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, to treat a condition called nystagmus, an involuntary movement of the eyes, which he still suffers from. The foundation enabled to him to remain in the US and at his first school, Apl was befriended by a classmate named William Adams.
“Our first conversation went like: ‘So, what do you do in the Philippines for fun?’ ‘Well, I like to rap and breakdance.’ And Will was like, ‘What?? Me too!’ That sparked our friendship and from then on, we were inseparable,” said Apl.
Apl and will.i.am formed a breakdancing crew called Tribal Nation – later called Atban Klann – and performed regularly at Southern California parties and events in the mid 1990s. Following more name and personnel changes, the Black Eyed Peas debuted in 1998 as a hip hop act featuring a live band, rare at the time. Their fortunes really took off with the release in 2003 of Elephunk, their first album featuring powerful vocalist Fergie.
The rest is history, but throughout the resultant blockbuster albums and iconic status have not swayed Apl from one of his main goals – helping the people of his homeland. In fact, thanks to his good fortunes, he founded the Apl Foundation and said he returns to the Philippines on a monthly basis to oversee the foundation’s project, “We Can Be Everything.”
“There’s such a difference in schooling and technology between the Philippines and the West,” he said. “You go there and there are still lots of kids studying under trees – they have no classroom to go to. So that’s what my foundation is doing – building classrooms and stocking them with technology.”
On Monday night though, Apl will be entering the classroom of hip hop and funk, and he’s inviting everyone to join him. No books required.