Published Jan 01, 2006"We grew up with break-dancing and MCing, the old school, that whole era of just having a good time and knowing that the music was good," says Taboo of Black Eyed Peas, musing on the back-in-the-day vibe his group often exudes. Yet ironically the infusion of old school values and primary cultural elements into their material has positioned Black Eyed Peas on the periphery, as rap continues to overshadow the other crucial components of hip-hop culture. Nevertheless, their 1998 debut, Behind The Front, wedded their nostalgic affinities to an organic live feel and grabbed attention for its refreshing approach. While this sound is still much in evidence on their new disc Bridging The Gaps, there are some noticeable steps towards the contemporary orthodoxy, yet Taboo, Will I Am and Apl de Ap, retain their native characteristics. Nepotistic filler is avoided with high-calibre guest artists such as De La Soul, Mos Def and Les Nubians tastefully functioning as logical extensions of the group's sound. Additionally the trio continues their work with impeccably distinctive female vocalists as Esthero joins the returning duo of Kim Hill and the now ubiquitous Macy Gray.
While their first effort's experimentation often consisted of isolated workouts, Bridging The Gaps fuses these influences together with fuller and increasingly sophisticated arrangements. With their uncomplicated flows and humorous approach, it's the Peas' overall chemistry rather than a single element that allows them to present their throwback ethos in a genuinely entertaining way. This becomes evident in their visual presentation in live shows and videos, where dance rightfully becomes an integral element of the proceedings. "We just decided to make our dancing as important as our MCing and our production," says Taboo. "It's an element in hip-hop that a lot of people are afraid to use. They say that MCs aren't supposed to dance, but we're b-boys and that's where we came from."