The New York Times

The New York Times 17 Dec 2019

I Was in The Black Eyed Peas. Then I Quit.

Description:

In the mid-1990s, the singer and songwriter Kim Hill met a young rapper who suggested they start making music. That rapper's name was will.i.am, and his group was a rising Los Angeles underground hip-hop crew called The Black Eyed Peas. The rest is history — or is it?

Hill found herself at a crossroads in 2000 and decided to quit the group and find her own voice, only to look on as The Black Eyed Peas reached global stardom with earworms like "I Gotta Feeling." Having missed out on what every performer dreams of, does Hill regret her decision?

"Almost Famous" is a special Op-Docs series of short films featuring people who nearly made history — only to fall short. These are tales of overcoming disappointment at its most epic, from an astronaut who never flew to a superstar who never was.


Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney reacts to the Houston Texans trading DeAndre Hopkins, who played at Clemson along with QB Deshaun Watson. Swinney also weighs in on where Tigers QB Trevor Lawrence would be taken if he was in the 2020 NFL Draft class.
#FirstTake

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On May third, the Venezuelan government announced it had detained a group of what it called mercenaries - trying to reach Venezuela on speedboats along with several dozen Colombians.
The group reportedly numbered around 50.
At least eight people were killed in the incident as the Venezuelans in effect ambushed the group, having apparently waited for them on the shore.
The mission, according to the government, was to kill Venezuela's president Nicolas Maduro and spark a coup in Caracas.
But others claim the plan was to abduct Maduro, and then take him - nobody knows where.
A Florida-based security company has claimed responsibility for the operation - which was coordinated with Venezuela's opposition, led by Juan Guaido.
But President Maduro insists the United States, and specifically President Trump, knew about the plot from the start.
As the U.S and most of Latin America want Nicolas Maduro out of power, what does this mean for Venezuela?

Presenter: Peter Dobbie

Guests

J.J Rendon, Presidential High Commissioner and General Strategist for the Juan Guaido government
Ramon Muchacho, former Mayor of Chacao District, an opposition stronghold in Caracas, Venezuela.
Isaias Medina, a member of the political party Council of Rumbo Libertad.
Pedro Burelli, a Latin America Political Analyst and Managing Director of B+V Advisors, a business management consulting group.
Jalen Rose and Jay Williams join Mike Greenberg on Get Up and react to Magic Johnson's comments on the LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan debate. Jay and Jalen then react to Horace Grant defending Scottie Pippen and questioning how Pippen was portrayed in "The Last Dance" documentary.
#GetUp #NBA

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A genetics company in Iceland is gathering data from COVID-19 patients, to build a detailed picture of the behaviour of the virus.

Founder Doctor Kari Stefansson also said that coronavirus was "widespread in the UK very early".

… show captions ↓
[APPLAUSE]
Yo, yo, yo, yo.
What’s happening?
Welcome to the show.
Yeah, let me get everybody’s name.
will.i.am.
What’s up, y’all.
This Taboo Nawasha.
This apl.de.ap.
Kim Hill, featured vocalist.
All right.
How would you describe the whole Black Eyed Peas
musical concept?
[MUSIC PLAYING]
Yeah, they got rid of the black girl
that they never made a part of the band,
and then they got the white girl.
They made her a part, and they blew up.
It’s like, no, that’s not how it happened.
L.A. in the ’90s —
there was so much tension in Los Angeles.
The narratives of hip-hop got to be far more violent,
bitches and hoes.
The subject matter typically came down to a woman
hoing herself for a ride home.
The damage that comes from the incessant, repetitive,
mindless violence that permeates our media
all the time —
[APPLAUSE]
By now, you’ve got Dre and Pac.
They were really speaking the truth.
Their friends were drug dealers or pimps.
This was real stuff.
It was still jarring, though.
[GUNSHOTS]
A lot of the music in the rap, it was very degrading.
And my 20-year-old self knew that it was degrading,
but the beats were so crazy and when you walked
in the club and it’s like (RAPPING) 1, 2,
3 and to the 4, (SPEAKING) you’re like I —
everybody, you know.
And you listen to the lyrics, you’re like,
well, I know I’m not a bitch, so he can’t be talking to me.
I grew up in Syracuse, New York.
My first memory of music,
I just would sit in front of the TV when “Soul Train” was on,
it was like, I’m here for every bit of it.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
Best part of “Soul Train” was the Soul Train line.
Then another segment of the show
where there was at least one act
so it could be Elton John, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder.
I want to get on “Soul Train.”
That was the coolest show to be on.
My mother was a single mom.
Yet my life was privileged.
We were black kids growing up in the white suburbs,
so I always kind of code switched kind of right
in the middle of those two worlds,
praying that those two worlds would never collide.
And I remember my 16th birthday,
and my mother was like, we can't have two parties.
So what are we going to do?
I remember being terrified.
I was hiding out at my own party.
I didn’t want my black friends to be like
why you talking like that and my white friends
to be like who’s that?
My mother — I was talking, and I was telling her a story.
And it was very much like and you know and like
and I don't even like — my mom would stop.
Where’s your voice?
Where are you?
Syracuse did not have black radio.
We didn’t have access to it.
I always wanted that space to write music
from my vantage point.
So I’m moving to L.A. to get a record deal.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
Oh, shit.
It has to work out.
Although I needed like food and whatever else, I was like,
I’m taking head shots.
Getting on a bus at 4:00 in the morning
when it’s pitch black dark from Culver City to deep
in the valley —
deep valley — I took head shots, and it was like,
I started working.
Now let’s go to work.
Fine.
I landed on "Living Single," whatever the shows were.
You get your 50 bucks, and people would see these shows where
I was walking around as a background actor, extra,
and they’d be like, you made it.
I’m like, I didn’t eat.
I had a showcase for BMI.
I get on stage, and I do my thing.
This kid walks up, and he’s like, I
think you really dope.
We should write music together.
Just the most — just a little precious little somebody.
So I was like, where’s your mom?
Oh, my name is will.i.am, and,
I’m Taboo Nawasha.
I’m apl.de.ap.
We’re the Black Eyed Peas.
Like the food?
Oh.
Will had a few songs set to play for me,
and the first one he played I was like, I love it.
I saw that discipline and the ideas that came out of him.
I was like, oh, shit.
Let me get my — hold on.
Let me sharpen my pencil.
And so I immediately had respect for him,
and I started writing something.
And this was — the hook was like (SINGING) every day
and all night, I dream of holding you tight.
(SINGING) Crazy as it may seem,
you’re all that I ever need, baby.
Something in the way you make me feel.
(RAPPING) You got me feeling like I’m supposed to feel.
(SINGING) Feel.
(RAPPING) You got me feeling like I'm supposed to feel.
(SINGING) Feel.
[MUSIC FADING]
That was — it was enhanced by us having this,
like, big sister, little brother kind of thing.
You’re one of us.
You’re coming along on this ride with us.
[INAUDIBLE] love and kisses, we’d like to say thank you
to the Black Eyed Peas for being on the tour.
Making this music and people were buying it.
We’re selling out small venues,
and we’re opening for everybody from Eminem
and No Doubt to OutKast.
We kinda couldn’t believe that our brand of hip-hop
was being embraced.
Hip-hop is progressive.
It started to regress at one point in time.
So we took it in our duties to progress it again.
We were happy at a time in hip-hop
where it really wasn’t O.K. to just be happy.
This whole L.A. underground movement,
they really loved us.
I did not feel like there would
be pressure to be anybody other than myself.
(RAPPING) My name is apl.de.ap.
(RAPPING) My name is Taboo Nawasha.
(RAPPING) My name is will.i.am.
(RAPPING) And we the Black Eyed Peas.
That’s the joint.
That’s the jam.
Turn it up and play it again.
But these three, we rock the House of Blues,
and then they got to go back to East L.A.
with gangs and uncles in jail.
And I was in my two-bedroom apartment
with my quirky roommate living in Hollywood,
like, looking at a hair magazine.
Let me — if I put enough coconut oil on my ends,
I can shake it out, and it’s all crinkly.
Like, you know.
[APPLAUSE]
From right here in Los Angeles,
let’s meet a mad magnificent rap
crew as they join us to do their latest single.
The song on the Interscope label’s titled
"Joints and Jams."
They’re known as Black Eyed Peas.
When we were asked to “Soul Train,” I was pinching
myself.
Wow.
(SINGING) [INAUDIBLE]
People on “Soul Train” would lip sync.
(RAPPING) That’s the jam.
Turn it up, and play it again.
We were like no way.
We don’t sing to track, and it was this big deal.
(SINGING) It’s the jam.
It’s the jam.
It’s the groove.
It’s the feeling.
Will looked in camera and just stop singing.
(RAPPING) Overseas London out-of-town shit.
Overseas London out-of-town shit.
And you heard the track going to make it clear
we ain’t really singing this.
That was his way of making a point, you know?
[APPLAUSE]
How would you describe the whole Black Eyed Peas
musical concept?
Musical concept as you can see we —
we’re really very animated.
I feel we put our personalities first
before any gimmick and before any, you know, materialism.
The band was very specific about how
we were looked at and received by people
and being purists, which is why once it started —
the pressure started coming to like, soften it up and make it
super commercial was like, we’re not really
going to do that, are we?
And the guys were like, you don’t
have to go back to East L.A. if this doesn't work out.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
There was new management now, so it’s a whole different set
of expectations and pressure.
It just started to get clumsy and messy.
You want me to grind on will.i.am in a bathing suit.
That was being asked of me, never by the guys.
That was happening from an executive level.
How far out on this plank do you want me to go?
The tug of war was about my sexuality
and how much of that I was willing to like, literally strip
down.
I never wanted to be objectified
while doing my music.
Where’s your voice?
Where are you?
This really deep brother-, sisterhood was starting
to get affected by the machine.
I didn’t want that burden on my shoulders.
So I wrote a letter to management and said, “Nope.”
I quit
and I had my website, and I trademarked my stuff.
And I was on the road, too.
It was inescapable.
Oprah was like the coolest band on the planet.
I was like, no, no, no, no.
The Black Eyed Peas!
Oh my God!
It was — I couldn’t go anywhere.
With three Grammys and more than 27 million albums
sold worldwide, the Black Eyed Peas
are way ahead of their time.
(RAPPING) I’m so 3008 You so 2000 and late.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
(SINGING) I got a feeling that tonight’s gonna be
a good night, that tonight’s gonna be a good night,
that tonight’s gonna be a good, good night.
I was going through a separation.
And I turn on the TV, and I saw Will was so happy.
And I was like, whoa, he did it.
And I called.
And I was like, I just — I’m away.
I’m going through a tough time, and I saw you on TV.
And you were happy.
And I just need you to know I’m happy for you.
You did it.
He spilled, and he was like I really miss you.
It’s different.
And I just knew we’d be fine.
No one handed them anything.
They worked their asses off.
They deserve it.
They deserve it.
Fergie and I have never met.
She’s never done anything to me.
She didn’t take anything from me.
What I do feel like is if we ever
met it would be like an embrace with a hug
and a deep breath because I think we just kind of know something
about being that female in that construct,
and that is — it’s tough.
But I was there for that part of hip-hop.
That was kind of the last of it.
You know?
And … it’s like — no one can ever take that.
It’s O.K. that it’s not wrapped up in a bow
with platinum records and a big house.
I have my happy.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
[INAUDIBLE]

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