Black Eyed Peas are back, and not with a loosie or a refix of a past hit, but for real this time. We think? OK, so there’s no “official” word that their long-awaited seventh album (possibly titled Masters of the Sun) will drop this year. But now that they’ve released a new song entitled “Street Livin'” with a music video and have alerted fans to “stay tuned,” it’s sounding more and more like a sure thing. We’ll have to wait and see, but for now, let’s get into this new music.
While Fergie is still “on a break” promoting her new label and sophomore project Double Dutchess, the original trio – will.i.am, apl.de.ap and Taboo – has reemerged with a sound and message reminiscent of their ’90s conscious-rap style. Yet “Street Livin'” is deeper than a musical comeback. Over smoky jazz horns and an old-school boom-bap beat, the fellas pass the mic to address injustices past-and-present like the broken penal system, police brutality and political oppression. The creative black-and-white visuals – which show the members’ faces superimposed over photo-journalistic images of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and various shots depicting the downside of being Black in America – make the powerful critique even more effective.
Not content to provide temporary food for thought, BEP takes it a step further by encouraging fans to rise up by signing a pledge and joining the #BEPstreetlivin movement. The campaign to promote reform is spearheaded by a coalition of organizations including Hip Hop Caucus and i.am.angel foundation, with Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Community Justice Reform Coalition, PICO’s LIVE FREE Campaign, #SchoolsNotPrisons, The Gathering for Justice and United We Dream.
In addition to being agents of change, BEP is also promoting their Marvel-issued graphic novel Masters of the Sun: The Zombie Chronicles, a futuristic b-boy zombie thriller about a hip-hop group doing battle with an ancient alien deity. An augmented reality app is currently available as a companion to the comic. The group will also debut a virtual reality experience, narrated by Stan Lee and scored by will.i.am and Hans Zimmer, at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Black Eyed Peas are socially-conscious but still making money moves. We ain’t mad. After you watch the powerful clip for “Street Livin’,” download a copy of the song for your playlist and peep the trailer for Masters of the Sun: The Zombie Chronicles. It’s shaping up to be a busy year for Black Eyed Peas, so keep up with the fellas on Twitter for the latest updates.