The Black Eyed Peas’ Translation, released June 19, features a veritable who’s who of Latin stars, including Shakira, Ozuna, Nicky Jam and Becky G, among others. In a series of exclusive interviews with The Black Eyed Peas and many of their Translation guest collaborators, Billboard got the skinny on how tracks developed, various artist quirks, and why Will.i.am finally learned how to DM.
Check out the highlights from our Black Eyed Peas interview with Becky G, Nicky Jam, Piso 21 and El Alfa above.
Nicky Jam on Will.i.am sliding into his DMs
“Will hit me up on DM. I didn’t even know he used Instagram like that. Like a groupie, I was starstruck. I think I left him a voice note because I’m not good with texting — I’d rather just talk. I didn’t have to know Will to know he wasn’t a DM vibe. He gave me that type of vibe that he’s keeping everything on the DL, meeting people in person. I bet he still has a Blackberry. [Editor’s note: He does.] And he hit me two, three months after that, and we met at the studio, and we did magic.”
Becky G on Translation’s multicultural appeal
“Translation is a true representation for people like me who have lived their lives simultaneously in two worlds. I’ve always considered myself the 200 percent: I’m 100 percent proud to be from Inglewood from Los Angeles, and I’m 100 percent proud of being Latina.”
“Growing up, speaking Spanish, being pocha, it’s something I always felt embarrassed about. It was always one or the other. You had to choose. And when you look at what Black Eyed Peas have created, they’ve embraced their cultures, they’ve embraced other cultures. They have literally united so many people with music. And that’s’ something I discovered through my Latin project.”
“Music is the universal language and it’s made for everybody to enjoy and participate in, and it empowered me to better my Spanish, to better my connections and relationships with fellow artists because that’s where it’s at. I feel so proud to be part of it.”
Pablo Mejía and David Escobar of Piso 21 on Black Eyed Peas as role models
David Escobar: “We are a group. And we always wanted to do big things, but we didn’t have a Latin role model. We have Maná [on the rock side], and then in pop, Menudo, but we don’t have someone like Black Eyed Peas, who are so global and who’ve changed the music world. And now, to see our name up there [with them], it’s, wow. Now people will say there are global things happening in Latin music.”
Pablo Mejía: “Translation is a great message for humanity. Just like music is one, the human race is one. People are so full of hate in social media. Even us Latins sometimes [go against each other]. But we’re all fighting for the same things.”
El Alfa on Translation’s timeliness
“I think will.i.am is a musical genius. We need more things like this. And this is the perfect time to release an album like this, to make the world remember how to have fun. So many bad things are happening, maybe this will allow them to forget all the negative things going on.”
Nicky Jam on Black Eyed Peas’ Latin impact
“Thank you for respecting Spanish speakers, respecting Latinos, respecting our music, our hustle. I’m one of the architects who’s been working on this music since 1995, when people said this music wouldn’t last. And 25 years later, we’re here doing reggaeton, El Alfa is doing dembow music, and people like Piso are doing pop. I got nothing but respect.”