If I Was will.i.am, I Gotta Feeling I’d Sell Out, Too

Say what you want about will.i.am, but him, Fergie and the other two guys in the Black Eyed Peas got it right! I remember back in the late ’90s when the BEPs released their debut album, Behind The Front, with their lead single “Joints & Jam” and then that other song “Fallin’ Up.”

Back then—before Fergalicious came into the picture—the Peas were just a three-man group on some true school, hip-hop shit. They were pretty good at what they were doing, too. Granted, I was more of a Black Star fan at the time, but the BEPs could’ve had a respected underground career. I’m a underground head, no doubt about it, but if The Roots wanted to switch their sound up to something more pop and profitable, I wouldn’t be mad at them.

Behind the Front sold a little over 300,000 copies to date and their second album, Bridging the Gap, sold even less than that. So what does will do? He adds the half-singing, half-rapping, half-good looking Fergie to the group and sells more than three million copies of the group’s next album Elephunk.

Still, as I watched the Grammys last night, while simultaneously browsing Twitter (aka Comedy Central), many hip-hop fans griped about the BEPs’ pop performance. Actually, Black Eyed Peas had the most hip-hop performance of the night, IMHO. You think that mask that will.i.am wore was by accident? He was paying homage to Q-Tip’s scene in ATCQ’s “Hot Sex” video, (CLICK HERE for a refresher) or maybe will.i.am got jumped by Wreckx-n-Effect too, who knows? All I know is, I wasn’t mad.

I remember reading an article where will.i.am was complaining (I’m pretty sure it was in SCRATCH magazine—R.I.P.) that he didn’t get enough hip-hop props, so he went out and did some tracks for Nas and the Game. Those pretty much got him nowhere. Fuck it, he should just stay making pop music, selling a shitload of records and winning Grammys. If you noticed the Black Eyed Peas weren’t even nominated in any of the hip-hop or rap categories. I wouldn’t wanna be in the rap category either, you see how the Grammy committee screwed that up—word to Flo Rida. (CLICK HERE for the XXL Real Rap Ballot.)

Let’s not get it twisted now, I didn’t go out and buy The E.N.D., I’m more of a Deeper Than Rap kinda dude, but I won’t front “I Gotta Feeling” is a good song. Depending on the New Year’s party you were at there either played BEP’s or LMFAO’s “Shots” at the strike of midnight. Wait, wasn’t LMFAO once an underground rap group, too? Interesting how that works, isn’t it? —Rob Markman, The Deputy!

  • AZ40

    I said the same thing niggas ain’t really know about BEP until the added Fergie, they kinda got all the elements party dance music, dancing,djing, having a message in some of their music, they just not that lyrical or that great at rapping, but they are staying true to themselves, the definition of “keepin’ it real”

  • Worley

    “Actually, Black Eyed Peas had the most hip-hop performance of the night, IMHO.”

    That’s exactly why I do not watch the Grammys. Watering down black music to make it palatable to white folks is nothing new. You just have to ask yourself if you are in it for black folks’ love or white folks’ money. Chances are very slim that you will get both.

    • Rob Markman

      is it as simple as Black & White though? I think every artist can agree that they just want people to enjoy their music. The more people who enjoy your music, the better. Of course it’s the music business and you have to make money as well.

      But I would imagine that every artist dreams of making songs that the world can sing. No?

      • Enlightened

        Yeah but the fact of the matter is Black people and White people still come from different cultures and underneath that, have different musical influences that shaped who they are.

        You can try to come up with hybrid’s to satisfy both. Most music made by and for Black people are drum heavy. That’s the simplest part of it, but it’s a lot of other subtle shit that explains why we like the music we do.

        So when they take hip-hop and “water it down” for consumption by the larger society, it’s cool, we don’t have to be mad at it. As long as we’re not trying to insult anybody’s intelligence and act like that’s not what it is.

        If you saw The Temptations movie, remember the scene where Berry Gordy told them about their new Jewish manager and that they were going to become the biggest group in the world instead of the biggest BLACK group, and in order to do it they were going to cut an album of “standards.” They was mad about that shit at first but it worked. That shit crossed them over.

      • Worley

        Rob: it is that simple. You left out “white looking” from your statement “he adds the half-singing, half-rapping, half-good looking Fergie to the group.” No “half singing, half rapping, half good looking” black chick would have taken BEP from less than 300k to more than 3 million. If that’s the case then the Roots need only add Teyana Taylor or Santigold to reach the next level. Not gonna happen.

        @Englightened: I would also add that heavy bass tends to disappear from black music gone mainstream.

        • Rob Markman

          actually Fergie is part mexican. She has Latina roots

        • Chilly Willy

          I see y’all, but just wanted to throw this in there: you do remember that Whitney had a problem on her first album because the producers said she sounded “too black”, right ? I’m just sayin…

          On another note, Will.I.Am don’t get enough props, neither from hiphop nor from pop (remember when MTV and pop world raved about Ordinary People by John Legend while throwin’ BEP under a bus?). But I think that may be the flipside of always pushin the envelope without really caring about the fans. You gotta stick to something that ring true, and grow with it. But most of the time, when you try too many shit, people often respond negatively. I’m not sayin he shouldn’t. It’s just a simple equation (see Kanye and 808 and Heartbreak, Common and Electric Circus, etc). But hate it or love it, musically, that man IS gifted.

  • ri067953

    If you wanna see Will.I.Am at his douchiest check out the “Sound Clash” dvd where he battles Thes-One from People Under the Stairs. Will has a big ole’ mac/midi set up and loses to Thes who killed it with two turntables and an MPC. Google Will.I.Am vs. Thes One and you can see the clip online.

  • JTM

    HAHA THEY ARE SELLOUTS THEY USED TO ROLL WITH EAZY E BACK IN THE DAY

  • A.R. Marks

    Are we still acting like white people can’t like hip-hop for what it is?

    Sure back in the day of The Temptations, the divide was much bigger…but there was a much larger reason for it (read: SEGREGATION). If drum heavy music is made “by and for black people” then am I white but still like it?

    You like what you grew up on, if you grow up on hip-hop, you like hip-hop; if you don’t, you like whatever else.

    As for Will.I.Am, the work he did with Nas and Game (and Busta and the Bone Thugs to an extent) actually got him a lot of respect in the hip-hop scene….he just abandoned it with the quickness for whatever reason. Remember when he said he was cooking up stuff for Nas’ next album after HHID? I was looking forward to that shit…

  • John Cochran

    My girl was watching the View one day (I know) and they had The Black Eyed Peas on as guests. Whoopi introdued them by saying they’re one of the greatest bands of all time. That says a whole lot, coming from someone who probably doesn’t know the difference between Rick Ross and Fabolous. Most of are favorite rappers are kings to us, but outside of hiphop no one cares. Say what you want about them, but that is something special, and I gladly call them hiphop.

  • jburg

    How are they sell outs? Isn’t what the make their music about what hip-hop was founded on? They make songs about good times, “I got a feeling” and bad time, “where is the love”. The new generation is who has twisted the perception of what hip hop or rap is supposed to be about. Hip hop doesn’t have to always be around gun, drugs, bitches, asses, and rims. That shit was unheard of back when hip hop started. They aren’t sellouts for bringing the origin back to the forefront. They bring something “different” to the table thats why they are “sellouts to some people. What they are doing is “unusual” to my generation because my generation doesn’t have a “Real” taste for music.

    • sb

      you have to do what makes you feel good and something that is not forced.That’s hip hop and that’s keeping it real

    • El Tico Loco

      The perception of what hip hop is about hasn’t changed is the focus on everything but the music. You can’t compare the begining of hip hop to now because it was that-the begining, they were still trying to find their identity in the game; and it evolved and branched out into many different styles yet we only get one type theu radio and TV. Is not just “bitches, asses, and rims” which shows your narrow mindedness too. Where’s the storytelling, political, Christian, Islamic the “I am broke but I’m happy” type hip hop? Now everything that used to be taboo that made hip hop special is the norm (selling out, bitin, trickin, acting like douchebag, perpetratin the fraud, subpar lyrics, gimmicks)that used to be the traits of a sucker mc now that makes you the toast of the town.

      • jburg

        Narrow-minded? What you just said made no sense. The question you brought up is what I was saying. You asked where is the storytelling? That was around when hip-hop started. I said that it isn’t around anymore. And I don’t know where you have been, but MAINSTREAM hip-hop is exactly what I said it was about. Bitches, Hoes and shakin’ asses, and girls gettin “low”. You should proof read homie.

        • El Tico Loco

          Obviously I’ve been deep in underground tracks that still bring that element (storytellin or political views) but those artist will never get that fair shot at mainstream. So in reality that shit still here but you gotta dig to find that type of stuff.

  • I’m At Work And Bored

    I can’t believe these douche bags still have the nerve to call themselves a hip hop group. Eazy-E is rolling in his grave right now

  • http://www.bboycult.com $ykotic/Don McCaine

    Them dudes were gonna get dropped and that’s when they decided to add Fergs. They were a b-boy band, breakdancing, rapping & sh*t.

    But I will always remember them getting real gully on Punk’d. That’s when practically everyone stopped questioning their “blackness”.

    • http://www.scritchandscratch.com/blog VEe!

      $ykotic,
      BEP stay getting into bar fights through out the U.S and Europe. I find it really naive how heads dismiss them based on appearances.
      De La Soul had to check some folks in the past.

      ———–
      BEP = hiphop

      “He adds the half-singing, half-rapping, half-good looking Fergie to the group and sells more than three million copies of the group’s next album Elephunk.” -classic!!

  • Curtis75Black

    How many emcee’s have crossed over and sold more abandoning what they used to rap about ? The answer is too many to name. Depending on when you started listening to Hip Hop, You have no idea what “selling out” really is because it can be looked at with some many angles. A emcee that never changes up his style from that “Thug/Gangster” persona that he started 14 years ago can be looked at as selling out also because you know he can rip it better, but chooses not to because of the fame and money that comes with it. You have emcees like Eminem, Jay-Z, Busta to 50 Cent catching flack for either switching to get their #’s up or staying with the same style that gets boring after awhile. Some “fans” don’t like change, can’t stand diversity. Others want a switch once in awhile. I never rocked with The BEP’s with or without Fergie so their music don’t mean much to me but I will say they are a Hip Hop group. Remember how Lauyrn Hill got sorta dissed for Singing on her debut ? Was she selling out or just using more talent not relying on just the Emcee that probably wouldn’t have sold even half or get recognition for being a dope cd ? I find it funny how peeps say it’s not about the sales yet are quick to shit on a emcee that “Flops”.

    • http://www.bboycult.com $ykotic/Don McCaine

      C/S

  • JihaD

    This:

    “I’m a underground head”

    And This:

    “I’m more of a Deeper Than Rap kinda dude”

    Don’t even mix. Argument fail.

    Oh, and the light skinned Indian cat is Apl.D. Dap.

    JihaD

    • DV8

      nope Apl is the filipino dude and Taboo is the Indian (Native American) dude

  • http://www.myspace.com/onemanprod Oneman Beats

    i like the BEP. they use alot of Hip Hop references. Jungle Brothers “Like dat” they make good music

  • 619

    If you saw B.E.P. back before Fergie you would know there whole shit’s changed. I saw them on the Smokin’ Grooves Tour around the ‘Joints and Jams’ period and Wil.I.am spit about a nice ass 5 minute freestyle you could tell was off the head with no beat, then he went runnin’ thru the crowd sharin’ a blunt with fans. And now? He can’t even get a fuckin’ verse longer than some 4 bar, not even a verse, sing songy bridge type shit.

    • mv

      i kind of agree with 619. i remember when i was younger and i heard my cousin listening to joints and jams. it was smooth and really chill nothing like theyre high pbm party songs they do now. i was with a friend of mine hitting a booze run this summer and she was blasting imma be and i cant front i was digging it when the beat was slow and they were killing it. then the pace picked up and i was kind of turned off because it sounded like all their other up beat songs. cant front shots by lmfao gets the party hype

  • Jetfiyah

    I dont give a flying fuck whether anybody thinks that BEP sold out. I respect what they did when they first came out with “Joints and Jams”, and i respect what they’re doing now with “Imma Be”. The Peas are putting out good music that obviously alot of people are buying. I believe they are headed towards double-platinum? If i want to hear lyrical this and that i’ll go buy Talib or something like that. Some of yall need to get over it. The Peas are here to stay.

  • macdatruest

    Wack Eye Peas is Black. See what I did there???

    Nah real shit tho I always wondered about them niggas like, “am I trippin or is that them fallin up niggas?? what the fuck is a cotdam fergalicious?”

    then I seen what they did there- they switched to a back up band. They said let’s take our collective talents find a beat up lookin (yea I said it) ex meth addict white chick and put our music and songwriting and (ahem)dignity into her. We’ll be her hype-men. Apl D Ap??? Excuse me sir, but who the hell are you? I dont even know who the other dude is, Oh wait thats the dude in Cypress Hill who nobody knows’s lil brother!

    Did they sell out? Selling out is when you give up your artistic vision for fame-to be who fame and those who grant it want you to be- so only them niggas know if they sold out. Maybe they always wanted a career as hip hop’s indentured servants bwa. bwahahahaha!~

  • caino

    Shit remeber whne kats where saying Nas was selling out? when he went on the pop route?

    These dudes keep selling , thats why they are catching hate! they play feel good music. Not my cup of tea but my girls loves them……and if they keep her happy its all good with me !

  • tony tarrant

    label it what you want but good music is good music.

    if they’re releasing it then they obviously like what they’re making so you can’t have a go at that.

    it’s made the way they want

  • Curtis75Black

    You know if Radio didn’t have such wack programming on who and what they play every emcee has the possible “Pop” song, regardless of what the sound or Subject matter is. Look, Alot of fans are critizing Jay-Z for his more “mainstream” sounding BP3 cd and like I said earlier some have no problem with it. The problem with the “Sellout” stigma is that there’s passes given to some and not to others based on name and image. Back in the day, Big Daddy Kane with his smooth image couldn’t get away with what LL was doing eventhough they both attracted the ladies. Nas definitely couldn’t have too many songs with his ex Kelis while peeps had no problem with hearing Jay and Beyonce get off. R&B sounding Hip Hop gets shitted on while Hip Hop sounding R&B gets mad props !! One reason why Mariah can have all the hits songs with these remixes and Busta Rhymes with his janet and Mariah features gets looked at with a crooked eye. No one looked at Biggie, Mase and Puffy crazy with all that champagne, shiny suit flow because it was hot at the time. BEP’s might’ve gotten some love from “fans” without Fergie but they blew up with her as the new edition !! I thought that’s what it was all about. It is when Jay is talked about right ?

  • Jon Dog

    I just gotta ask? Is the racial thing still that fuckin’ bad down in the states, that you guys have to turn everything into a race issue? Black music for black people? What the fuck? I’m from Canada, and we could care less. I was under the impression that music is made for everyone to enjoy. In my eyes, music is what brings people closer. Why does everything have to be about race with people? I’m not tryin’ to diss, maybe I just don’t get it, but from up here, it looks pretty fuckin’ bad on you. Give it up already. White or black.

  • Rubex

    I think BEP’s, like other artists, have changed throughout time for a reason. We live in a depressing world and we seek to escape it. It’s no longer the 90′s where only the “hood” dealt w/ death and self preservation. The upbeat, feel good music helps the younger generation cope. That’s why its all about partying up, grinding on the dance floor , having fun, and drinking champagne on a boat.

  • Rubex

    Can anyone honestly blame BEP’s for changing with the times and producing happy, upbeat music? We aren’t living in the 90′s where the “hood” was the only place where random violence and self preservation was top priority and “mainstream” wanted to indulged in this other world. Our nation is in a horrible place and now we need to escape to this other world where its acceptable to grind on the dance floor, party all night and get crunk.

  • getthesenets

    BEP are garbage.

    Will makes concerted effort to appear “artsy”…..but he knows the music they make is trash.

    I got into an argument with davey d a few years ago. He was trying to convince me that will is “great freestyler”……I brought up the point that at the end of one of the BET awards show..Prince handed Will the mic to freestyle, while he played at the end of the night.

    What could be iller, right?

    will sounded like a straight clown…

    these rap outlets get paid cash to try to write pro -BEP articles.

  • TBizzal

    Wow. Anyone who seeks to justify BEP since ‘Bridging the Gap’ knows nothing about hiphop. This is a genre of music (not rap, not R&B, hiphop) that is definitively opposed to corporate, soul-sucking tripe. They sold out. Of course they did. I’m sure they got bigger houses, nicer cars, healthier bank balances, but their artistic credibility is dead. That’s the trade-off, I’m afraid. Same with anyone else. The future of hiphop is dudes like Immortal Technique, not these faggot motherfuckers.