Black Eyed Peas reveal the real reason why Fergie left and how Latin stars are helping them rule charts again
The Black Eyed Peas have just dropped a brand-new album called 'Translation', which came out last week on June 18. It marks a return to the Billboard charts for the group who were well known for pop chart domination over a decade ago, but much has changed since then. Their iconic singer Fergie left and was replaced by their new Filipina featured artist, J Rey Soul. In addition to this, the three surviving members of the group, Will.i.am, Apl.de.ap and Taboo, have chosen to reinvent themselves on this new album by featuring 10 collaborations with a star-studded list of Latin artists, including Shakira, J Balvin, Ozuna, Becky G, Maluma, Nicky Jam and more.
Speaking about Fergie's departure from the group, Will.i.am revealed that they still keep in touch with her, saying, "We love her, and she's focusing on being a mom. That's a hard job, and that's what she really wants to do and we're here for her. It's really the way Fergie designed it, so we're respecting her design. We love Fergie, and we don't want anything but awesomeness for her." Apl.de.ap chimed in, "Fergie is our sister... she’s always going to be our sister. But unfortunately, our schedule is displaced by (Fergie) wanting to be a great mom, and she wants to focus on that. And like Will said, we support her 100%." Taboo also added, "I feel we're giving birth to a new artist, J Rey Soul. I really want to give her ultimate praise and respect. What the fellows said, Ferg, she's doing the mom thing, but we have an amazing artist we're developing."
The group also spoke about their new album 'Translation' in a recent interview with Billboard and why they chose to embrace Latin flavors this time around. One of the early singles from the album, 'Ritmo', reigned supreme on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart for 21 weeks and another single 'Mamacita' also hit No 3. When asked why they had taken to Latin music in a big way, Will.i.am stated, "Because that genre, that world, is the most creative world right now. And (Epic Records) also has Sony Latin, and they kill it," he said, speaking of their record label's efforts to help promote and market the new album.
Taboo added, "It was really cool to really focus on the Latin artists that we've been inspired by. The J Balvins and the Malumas and the Ozunas. For us to collaborate on songs is a natural progression because we’ve always been influenced by Latin rhythms, even in our earlier work in the ’90s."
Will.i.am also revealed, "What’s awesome about the Latin community that I wish the rest of the world adopts is, you guys play any song that’s a good song. Not only are we inspired by this new group of talented icons, we also wanted to say thank you to all the folks in the Latin world who have accepted, played our music, and given us a career." He also declared, "I’m inspired by what’s happening right now. The (Latin) parties are beautiful parties. Everybody dresses to the tens, the guys are just as freaking showing their style as the girls. It’s an amazing environment. Everybody’s super creative. And they’re like, 'No, I’m not singing in English.'"
He also explained, "We wanted to treat the album like a playlist more than an album. Curating a playlist, every song has to be the jam. Yes, you have to do new music, but you want to do charting music, and you want to throw other songs that complement, so the listener enjoys it. Everything is a continuous set."
Breaking down some of the songs from 'Translation', the singer said, "'Ritmo'. What can go after that? If I were DJ’ing, 'Can You Feel the Beat'. Then it goes into 'Mamacita', and that has a reference to 'La Isla Bonita', a white person’s (Madonna's) perspective of Latin music. It’s like a continuous spot of our appreciation of Latin music. Then we throw a monkey wrench: It’s 'Super Freak', and I’m going to sing a Latin chorus." He continued, "What’s the most typical Spanish phrase that everyone knows? 'Vida loca,' but the beat will be Afrobeat, and let’s put Tyga on, too. And that song will go into El Alfa, who’s the most creative artist in the Latin community. So everything is retro-futuristic, because we’re taking ’90s and ’80s, but updating it with future sounds and Latin rhythms."