In February, the Black Eyed Peas performed during Super Bowl XLV. It was the most-watched program in the history of American television. An average of 111 million U.S. viewers witnessed the explosive, neon-lit fusion of break dancing, electronica, hip-hop, and R&B by Will.i.am, Fergie, Taboo, and Apl.de.ap (as well as Slash and Usher) at Cowboys Stadium. Only a gig on Mars has eluded this juggernaut group. But soon the Black Eyed Peas will finally relent from partying all the time and begin an indefinite hiatus.
Yet with the Peas, it can't be that simple. After all, the group's 2009 album, The E.N.D., is an acronym for "the energy never dies." More singles from the group's latest record, The Beginning, could still follow. And the four-year break in BEP recording following 2005's Monkey Business brought about über-successful solo albums from Will.i.am and Fergie. Even those who would down a vat of actual black-eyed peas if it meant never hearing the David Guetta-fied dance-floor bomb "I Gotta Feeling" at another bar mitzvah can't knock the quartet's hustle.
This Wednesday, the Black Eyed Peas will throw a jam-packed farewell concert at Sun Life Stadium that'll make the Band's 1976 "Last Waltz" look like a cloudy pea soup. Recently, Taboo (AKA Jaime Gomez) spoke with New Times. In a 17-minute phone call, he worked every angle and massaged more talking points than the finest PR flack.
There's The Black Eyed Peas Experience videogame coming next year, his jump-started acting career, his autobiography called Fallin' Up, and his shoe line (Taboo Deltah, "with an h"). Plus, multiple assurances that the group is not breaking up.
New Times: What does it mean to do this farewell show in Miami?
Taboo: Miami's always been a great fan base for us. I remember doing the Carnival tour with Wyclef and Aaliyah and Timbaland and all these artists. We were opening up, and it felt good because those were the first installments of understanding what the Miami lifestyle was and getting a read on the fan base coming to support the Peas. Then we started to do the MTV Awards, and when we got our chance to do our own tour, Miami was pretty fresh. I'm excited about it, and Miami is always a great place to party.
What's your favorite memory from those early Behind the Front years?
The innocence of us being new to the industry and traveling for the very first time and performing, opening up for a lot of people. Nobody really knew who we were. It was more like, "Oh, yeah, those are the hip-hop kids from L.A." It was proving ourselves. There was no success. There was no fame. There was no fortune, none of that. It was just raw energy. Passing out flyers for our concerts and us going into the audience after our show and mingling with people. We wanted to get our name out there. It was like the new freshmen in college.
What do you say to the people who are relieved that the Black Eyed Peas are taking a breather now?
I would say cool. I'm relieved myself. I'm glad to be able to sit back and do my thing. The Peas' legacy will keep living on no matter what, because each individual doing their thing will bring awareness to the Black Eyed Peas. Some people are going to be like, "Thank God the Black Eyed Peas are gone. They're everywhere." It's cool. There are some people that are glad and some people that are sad. At the end of the day, we love all our Peabodies, and we're grateful to be a strong family.
Are you going to see as much of the other members of the group as you do now?
We'll probably be doing shows together, because we're all DJing. We'll probably do live sets where we integrate, and we'll do something together, all three of us together. Will.i.am never stops being in the studio. Every time he's in the studio, me and Apl will stop by. It's all positive things. I hate when people say, "Oh, it's the end of the Black Eyed Peas. The Black Eyed Peas are breaking up." No, it's not a breakup. It's just a little break, giving people some time to rejuvenate and then come back strong and compete.
The Black Eyed Peas taking a little break is something that we respect and we all agreed upon. We have to respect Ferg. [She] is our sister. She definitely wants to have a family, and we're happy for her. And we're going to keep being a strong family being there and supporting her.
So a lot of the Black Eyed Peas' break is to give Fergie space and time to build a family?
You have to, dude. Once you start putting orders and cock-blocking certain situations, things start going sour. You can't neglect. You can't not respect people's wishes. As our sister, we have to give her space... I don't know if they're working on that yet. She's focusing on getting through this year, finishing up strong with the Peas. When that time comes — it doesn't just happen, like, "Oh, I'm pregnant tomorrow." It's gotta be planned out. And I think she and [husband Josh Duhamel] deserve it. They're such a great couple.
Aside from the DJ thing, do you want to pick up that solo album that you've been thinking about?
I've kind of been holding off on my individualism in the Black Eyed Peas. I was going to do a solo record in 2007 when Fergie and Will came out with one, but I held off because it wasn't the right timing. I'm going to do it, but I have to do it right. I can't be throwing something out and it be put on the shelf. The timing has to be right. The imagery has to be right. Everything about it has to be right. It's a big thing to me, because nobody knows I can do this on my own. Nobody really expects it from me. It's got to be something epic. I can't be some okey-dokey style. I'm taking my time. But eventually I will get there.
Do you see a moment coming soon when you're sitting in a rocking chair drinking iced tea after this farewell show?
No. I go on tour right after the show. I start my DJ tour. I'm going straight into it, because I have the family to take care of. I have to get myself situated. When I get older, I'll have time to do that. But right now, it's all about getting my situation on.