The Black Eyed Peas’ new album, Translation, has a completely different sound than anything they’ve done before, as the group offers its take on the world of Latin music with guests like Becky G, El Alfa, J. Balvin, Ozuna, and Shakira. However, the biggest difference that longtime fans may notice is the absence of the group’s erstwhile fourth member, Fergie, who joined the band on their third album, Elephunk, and remained with them through their 2010 album, The Beginning. She was also missing from their 2018 album Masters Of The Sun Vol. 1. In a new interview with Billboard, they explain why.
All three remaining members are quick to point out that they remain in contact with Fergie and consider her their “sister.” However, as Will.I.Am says, “she’s focusing on being a mom. That’s a hard job, and that’s what she really wants to do and we’re here for her, and she knows how to contact us for a retreat or a breakaway. It’s really the way Fergie designed it, so we’re respecting her design. We love Fergie, and we don’t want anything but awesomeness for her.”
Apl.de.Ap reinforces that the group’s recording schedule simply conflicts with the demands of motherhood. “Even with these small connections, she’s always going to be our sister,” he says. “But unfortunately our schedule is displaced by [her] wanting to be a great mom, and she wants to focus on that. And like Will said, we support her 100%.”
Will even notes that Fergie hadn’t heard the album at the time of the interview, hoping that she likes it when she hears it with the rest of the world. While Translation takes them back to their roots as a trio, the group has brought in a new live vocalist for the time being, J. Rey Soul. Taboo compliments the new singer, saying “how proud I am of J.Rey Soul as well, because I know people are probably wondering who this artist is. The question always is ‘How’s Fergie doing?’ and I get that… I feel we’re giving birth to a new artist, J.Rey Soul. I really want to give her ultimate praise and respect.”
With a new sound, a new member, and a new album, Black Eyed Peas looks to extend their run of pop/hip-hop dominance and given the performance of their new single “Ritmo” with J. Balvin, they appear to be on course to do just that.
Check out the video for “Ritmo” above.
Translation is out now on Interscope. Get it here.