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Black Eyed Peas

by Philip Brasor

It’s important to remember that the Black Eyed Peas, a self-described “old school” rap group, started out as a break-dancing collective at a time and in a place where break-dancing was considered corny. In Los Angeles in 1992, if you weren’t a “gangsta” you were sort of ignored, which is why Eazy-E, one of the founders of the seminal gangsta group, NWA, confounded his associates by signing Atban Klann, the break dancing rap group that would eventually morph into the Peas. In any case, the record company folded without ever releasing an album by the Klann.

It took a little longer for the scene to catch up with the Peas’ positive outlook and frat-boy party style, though some people would say that it was simply a cycle making its inevitable way back to the source. In the Peas’ case, the source is even farther back than early hip-hop heroes like Soulsonic. They’ve always toured with a band in order to give proper weight to their funk, which is deep, full and stuffed to the brim with diverse sounds ranging from heavy metal guitar to Latin percussion. Their hit-making third album, “Elephunk,” tends to be compared with Outkast, another erstwhile hip-hop group who no longer has any use for genre labels. Actually, Will I Am, Apl.De.Ap, and Taboo — the Peas’ three rappers — are less notable for their rhyming skills than for their unquenchable exuberance. Their concerts are parties, nothing more and nothing less. That’s an old-school trait that never goes out of style.