By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
"We don't use dollars to represent, we just use our innocence and talent," claimed the Black Eyed Peas on their 1998 debut album, Behind the Front. Harking back to Native Tongues acts like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, the album's jazzy, soulful beats and positive lyrics sure sounded like the Los Angeles group was telling the truth.
But after collaborating with rising hip-hop greats like Mos Def on 2000's promising Bridging the Gap, the Peas went through a breakup with vocalist Kim Hill and brought on ridiculous pop tart Fergie as a replacement. From a representin' dollars perspective, this was a good move. Fergie -- whose qualifications include gigs on Nickelodeon's Kids Incorporated, a stint in the all-girl dance group Wild Orchid and the ability to wear a hat sideways -- has lent an unmistakable eau de bubblegum that has taken the Peas far commercially. You can hear it in the cringe-inducing Jock Jam "Let's Get It Started" and in the Best Buy ads letting you know you can "control the Black Eyed Peas with the push of a button."
The disappointing cheese factor continues with the group's truly embarrassing latest effort, Monkey Business. Fergie makes an ass of herself talking about her ass in the painful "My Humps," while Sting gets shamefully dragged into the mix, P.Diddy-style, for an MC guest role on "Union." James Brown also stops by for an appearance -- but somehow, the Peas even manage to make the Godfather of Soul sound like a tired hip-hop cliché.