The return of the Black Eyed Peas to their hip-hop roots is a welcome surprise.
‘Street Livin” marks a significant departure from the fare we’ve come to expect from The Black Eyed Peas: gone are the EDM beats, auto-tune, and Fergie. Instead, we are treated to a sombre horn loop, a gritty hip-hop beat, and genuinely impressive lyricism. For long-time fans of The Black Eyed Peas, this is a welcome return to the authentic hip-hop of their earliest albums. It is perhaps no coincidence that this change in genre has come at the same time as a change in personnel. The restoration of the original trio and the removal of Fergie appears to have inspired a reversion back to their roots, and their music is all the better for it.
The track is also notable for the topics which it takes aim at. Police brutality, the criminal justice system, and immigration policy come under particular scrutiny with Will.i.am rapping there’s “more n****s that’s rotting in prisons than there ever were slaves cotton picking.” Socially conscious flow is nothing new for The Black Eyed Peas; ‘Where is the Love?’ is one of their biggest hits, yet ‘Street Livin” continues a trend beginning to emerge in mainstream music. In the past year, music has become particularly activist, with artists such as Kendrick Lamar, N.E.R.D, and Rihanna utilising their songs as political messages.
If The Black Eyed Peas can follow this release with more of the same then their upcoming album is definitely one to keep tabs on.
‘Street Livin” is available now via Interscope Records