BLACK EYES PEAS LEAD IMAGE-1643024548190, Taboo and from Black Eyed Peas, during the press conference at Expo 2020, Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Staying on the top of the game for 25 years takes grit, determination, a little bit of luck and a whole lot of talent. But there’s one key ingredient that the Black Eyed Peas feel is essential to write their success story above all else — friendship.

The trio, comprising, and Taboo, are set to return to the Dubai stage on January 25, performing live at Expo 2020 for the Infinite Nights series of concerts, one that will beamed into millions of homes across the world.

“To be here with my best friends is a dream come true. For us to share our music and to be here in the region at a time when the region is opening up to a broader and different types of creatives, business leaders and investors is a moment in history,” said ahead of their Dubai concert. “The Expo is really awesome. To have kicked off the Expo video in 2020 and to be here in 2022 is a journey in itself.”

The video in question saw the American rapper and producer take on the role as the voice of Expo 2020 Dubai’s roll call of milestone moments that was created two years ago, celebrating the history of human achievement and anticipating the accomplishments yet to come across the fields of art, music, fashion, science and more.

TAB 220124 BLACK EYED PEAS ARAMZAN-6-1643024523651
The Black Eyed Peas at Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

From the ‘Be There’ film, to taking to the Expo 2020 Dubai stage two years later, didn’t deny that the journey has been a fraught one. “COVID-19 had resulted in a detour for a bit, but we made it here and for us celebrating on stage, singing ‘I Gotta Feeling’ won’t be just another party anthem, but an affirmation to get out of the rut to claim the night for a better tomorrow.”

Long winding road

Black Eyed Peas
Black Eyed Peas Image Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai

With multiple Grammy wins and countless accolades to their credit — for music and their activism — Black Eyed Peas has come a long way from its formation days in Los Angeles in 1995. (William Adams) and (Allan Pineda) were high school buddies who banded over their mutual passion for rapping and freestying. The pair signed on to Ruthless Records (run by Eazy-E) with a host of other names to form A.T.B.A.N. Klann in those early years, before taking on the moniker of Black Eyed Peas as “the food for the soul” as explained on the album cover of ‘Monkey Business’.

After countless reshuffles in the line-up over the years, which saw the emergence of Fergie at the group’s pinnacle before she took a hiatus to embrace motherhood, the group stands today as a trio with Taboo (born Jaime Gomez) as part of the foundation, while J.Rey steps in as the female vocalist on occasion.

Desite the years and the highs and lows, the camaraderie was evident between the trio during this Dubai visit, reinforcing the fact that some bonds were meant to be, no matter how difficult things get.

TAB 220124 BLACK EYED PEAS ARAMZAN-2-1643024532801 from the Black Eyed Peas during their press conference at Expo 2020 Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

“The secret behind our success is our friendship, staying honest and studying what other musicians are doing in our bid to be competitive,” said in a candid moment. “If we miss the mark Taboo and apl will be the first ones to say something is off.”

Listening in, Taboo chimed in to echo his bandmate’s words. “We believe in ourselves. To do new things. In our music. In our mission. In 2022, we still have that urgency we had when we first started out and that stems from our friendship.”

The Black Eyed Peas in a file photo Image Credit: AP

It is also this friendship that has seen them step into the spotlight at countless shows without the need for rehearsals or stressing over a set.

“We observe the city we perform in. We go out to research what’s going on in the music scene,” said apl, describing the process that goes into their live shows.

TAB 220124 BLACK EYED PEAS ARAMZAN-3-1643024536776 from the Black Eyed Peas at Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

“When we played at the Super Bowl, I think that was the only time we rehearsed,” chimed in “We didn’t for the [FIFA] World Cup [2010]. It’s only when the stage changes dramatically that we have to rehearse. We don’t fall back on choreography to elevate our acts. Going out, seeing the audience and putting on a show that’s unique for that specific night is where the magic’s at.”

“Oh absolutely,” said Taboo. “Sometimes, fights can break out at a concert or mistakes are made that can change the whole vibe of the show. We then take cues from those moments and adapt our shows as needed.”

And it’s in these moments that the creative process kicks in, explained, who shared that their monster hit, ‘Let’s Get It Started’, originated from an after-show high in 2002 post a similar gig in San Diego.

“We only got love for people who use choreography. But the magic that is Black Eyed Peas started from freestyling in those early days of the band. We take that same philosophy on stage and read the crowd event today,” said Taboo.

Touring as they have for 20 years or more, said they often fall back on call signs and audibles to communicate with each other during a performance. “It gives the band the cue to change if something new or a track we are trying out isn’t doing well. So if you see me on stage in Dubai throwing my arms around, it isn’t a move but probably an audible for the band.”

Finding inspiration

TAB BLACK EYED AT Super Bowl-1643024542949
The Black Eye Peas at the 2011 Super Bowl Halftime Show with Fergie Image Credit: Shutterstock

Over the years, the band has experimented with different sounds blended in with hip-hop to create a unique rhythm that is essentially their own. Some may even call it a global sound, harking back to their different background and ethnicities to culminate into one beat. Quiz the trio and they agreed.

“We are inspired by so many different types of genres; we like everything from Earth Wind and Fire and old school hip-hop. You could say we are students. Everything we learn from around is let out in the studio. We allow ourselves not to be close-minded of boxed into a specific genre. Fusion is what really Black Eyed Peas is about. It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that and be fearless about it,” said

TAB 220124 BLACK EYED PEAS ARAMZAN-4-1643024520592 from Black Eyed Peas during a press conference at Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

He continued: “We don’t conform to rules. I feel folks who stick to that get bored. That sound is always in the studio, but the fusion stays in the mind.” agreed, saying: “When we tour around the world, we pick up different sounds and styles we see around us. We blend those sounds into our music as well.”

What inspires the Black Eyes Peas, aside from the global sound that is, are acts such as Soul Sonic Force and the Jungle Brothers. “Those types of fusions we have always embraced. That allows us to work with the likes of Blink-182, to put out something in Latin and work with the likes of J Balvin, Maluma and Shakira, to doing stuff with people in the hip-hop community,” Taboo added.

TAB 220124 BLACK EYED PEAS ARAMZAN-11-1643024530066
Taboo at Expo 2020 Dubai press conference Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

With COVID-19 laying waste to the live music scene for close to two years, Taboo was the first to say it was a blessing to be able to perform once again in front of a live audience.

“We were lucky to have performed virtually during the pandemic and we did a few tours before coming here, in France and in Egypt. But to be here in Dubai, after seeing the world shut down, to share the stage once again with my best friends and to have a live audience is a moment for us to be grateful,” said Taboo.

“Hopefully, our concert here will serve as an inspiration to other promoters out there in other countries that you can have live events and safety measures,” said


The Details

Black Eyed Peas REUTERS-1643024539375
Taboo, J. Rey Soul,, in concert in 2021 Image Credit: Reuters

Pop trio Black Eyed Peas are set to perform at Expo 2020 Dubai on January 25. The ‘Where Is The Love?’ hitmakers will take to the stage as part of the venue’s six-month Infinite Nights concert series that has in the past been graced by Grammy winning singer Alicia Keys. Tracklist for the night should include songs such as ‘I Gotta Feeling’, ‘Boom Boom Pow’ and ‘Let’s Get It Started’. The concert at At Wasl Dome starts at 8.30pm and is free to those with a pass to Expo 2020 Dubai. Visitors are advised to arrive early to grab a spot. The concert will also be live-streamed globally.