Amid the Black Lives Matter movement, the Black Eyed Peas have found new meaning in their music.
ET's Kevin Frazier spoke with the musical group via Zoom this week, ahead of their highly anticipated appearance on the Rock the Vote special, live-streaming Thursday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on DemocracySummer.org. During the interview, Will.i.am, Apl.de.ap and Taboo opened up about continuing to make music that brings people joy.
"Remember how depressing the end of 2008 was? It was dark, and 'I Gotta Feeling' came out. It was like, 'I gotta feeling, that tonight is going to be a good night,' because this past year has f**king been hard ... I am tired of this f**king news telling me that it is doom and gloom, so I am going to go out and make it good, me and my friends, let's go!" Will.i.am recalled of their 2009 hit, which featured former member Fergie. "So this [moment] feels like that; it is a self-confirmation that tomorrow is going to be OK."
"I can't wait for people to see us perform 'Where Is the Love?' during Rock the Vote. [The people of] the United States have to come out and vote this time around. The same way we went out there to march [in protest], we got to march to the booth," he continued. "If you can get on TikTok, then you can tick a box. If you can get on Instagram, then you can instantly vote and change America."
Following BEP's Rock the Vote appearance, their new album, Translation, drops Friday. Will.i.am told ET that making music amid the coronavirus pandemic gave him "peace."
"Turning in the record was like, 'This is what's keeping me. This has given me life right now. This is the only joy that I have.'" he explained. "And then it's like, 'I gotta share that joy with the rest of the world.'"
"We always know that there are people out there trying to be the next Black Eyed Peas. We are hungry, and we are not giving up our spot," Taboo added. "We are here, 2020. We got a new record coming, and we are excited that we owned it and we're still doing it on the big scale!"
The album features a number of collaborations with stars like Maluma, Becky G, Tyga, Nicky Jam and Shakira. Of working with the latter for "Girl Like Me," Will.i.am said, "I thought I was a perfectionist ... Shakira is on a totally different level!"
"She comes with notes, and it's awesome," he added. "But she does it in a very gentle, humble, sweet way, to where you just wanna please all of her concerns. And that takes a very skilled negotiator, a great collaborator. It was a joy to work with her."
Additionally, the group will be releasing a surprise music video Thursday night, for one of the collaborative tracks on their album.
"I was in the gym the other day and [Epic Records CEO] Sylvia Rhone was like, 'Will, as a black man, name another producer that competes in pop over multiple decades and switches genres and succeeds in every genre that they competed in," Will.i.am said, referencing their success in everything from electronic dance music to pop, and now Latin. "Like, Black Eyed Peas is a black group. You got two black guys and a Latin, and that is as urban as it gets."
"We're switching genres ... aiming at different demographics, and succeeding in every way," he continued. "So, it feels really good to have success and to collaborate with great artists like J Balvin. Maluma and Ozuna on this new Translation record."