The story of the Black Eyed Peas’ Translation begins with “Ritmo (Bad Boys for Life),” a song that the group had stashed away for the right moment.
It was one of the first tracks Maluma heard, and loved, when he went to Los Angeles to work with Peas leader Will.i.am in the studio. He wanted to jump on it — except, it was already committed.
“True story: the song was perfect for him [Balvin],” says Maluma, laughing, during a Zoom call with Will.i.am, Taboo and Apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas… and J Balvin, who ended up as the guest artist on the top 40 hit. “So we started working again together, and at the end of the day, we got this big song [‘Feel the Beat’].”
Translation, released last Friday (June 19), ended up featuring both “Ritmo” and “Feel The Beat,” as well as collaborations with Latin stars like Shakira, Ozuna, Nicky Jam and Becky G, among others.
In a series of exclusive interviews with the Black Eyed Peas and many of their guest collaborators on Translation, Billboard got the skinny on how tracks developed, various artist quirks, and why Will.i.am finally learned how to DM.
Below, check out the highlights from the interview, and watch the video.
On the real story behind “Feel the Beat”:
Maluma: “I was very honest with Will the other day we were in the studio. He was like, ‘Bro, the song is amazing, I think it will be our song.’ And I was, ‘F–k, I’m so excited, show it to me.’ Then he started playing the song, and after a minute I was [like], ‘I don’t know. I don’t know if I really like it. I don’t know if I really love it. If I’m going to work with the Black Eyed Peas, it has to be a f–king grand slam.’”
Will.i.am: “I look at it as a challenge. Let me recall my emotions. Because if you work [on a song] for so long, you start to get attached to it and treat it like a child. It’s like, look at my baby. It’s beautiful. Isn’t my baby beautiful? And Maluma was, your baby is pretty, but it’s not more pretty than me.”
On the Black Eyed Peas as a global group:
J Balvin: “I met Will at the Billboard Latin Music Awards and I was so happy [he] talked to me. Will.i.am knows my name! You guys have to understand, Maluma and myself are from Medellín, Colombia. I used to see you guys so far [away from us]. The fact that I’m going through a great moment in my career doesn’t mean it doesn’t impress me that I can be with you guys on a Zoom call and talk about what we’re doing.
“The concept of globalization is something I didn’t feel until I started living it. When I was going to different countries, the guys I thought were successful and famous, they actually weren’t. It was more like an image of the media in the U.S. But the Black Eyed Peas, they were a real example of a global act. If they went to Rio de Janiero, people were there to see them. If they went to Germany, German people were there [to see them]. If Black Eyed Peas know what’s going on right now with the Latin culture, it’s because they know how it feels to be global. [It’s] one thing to be big in the States, and that’s great. We all dream with that. But globalization is something else. And it’s really when different cultures are translating into our world, and that’s what happened with Black Eyed Peas and that’s what happening with Latinos now.”
Watch the full interview below.