Do Remember: Black Eyed Peas Joints & Jam (Video)
Few groups in Hip-Hop can reinvent themselves, twice. The Black Eyed Peas accomplished this, and on a major stage to boot. 1998 would prove to be a pivotal year for will.i.am, apl.de.ap, and Taboo. Six years after Will 1X and apl had signed with Eazy-E and Ruthless Records, the Atban Klann (with Mookie Mook and DJ Motiv8) never released an album. Eazy E’s 1995 death halted the trajectory of so many of Ruthless’ second generation acts.
Historians and Heads often overlook the two Atbann moments at Ruthless. The crew would feature, alongside Raunch Rap pioneer Rudy Ray Moore and another short-lived Ruthless act, Menajahtwa, and Buckwheat (of Lil Waskals) on E’s “Merry Muthaphuckin’ Xmas” on late 1992’s 5150: Home 4 Tha Sick EP. A Top 100 debut, the five-track work is not among the Compton, California MC/mogul’s most celebrated, especially in the face of The Chronic chides. Less than two years later, the Klann was able to showcase their own vision with lone single, and lone video, “Puddles Of H20.” The 1994 beatnik track was a clear forecast of B.E.P., and an indication of Ruthless’ intended diversity. However, Grass Roots never released (although it’s widely available online today).
Reconfiguring, apl.de.apl and Will remained together, while the two other members left. Taboo would join the crew who reportedly first recorded as Black Eye Pods, before settling on Black Eyed Peas. By 1998, the brand of music that the Atbann Klann was scratching at had gained popularity. As The Roots holding down the charts for Geffen’s DGC imprint, and The Fugees sold six million albums in The Score, major labels clamored for artistically versatile counters to Gangsta Rap. A&M/Interscope Records locked in on B.E.P., giving them a record deal.
The Peas got to work on Behind The Front, an album that would include contributions from (later LMFAO star) Redfoo and Macy Gray. Prior to its June release however, Interscope would introduce B.E.P. to the masses care of the Bulworth soundtrack, in April. The platinum companion to Warren Beatty and Halle Berry’s film would prove to be a critical release, not only introducing the world to the Black Eyed Peas, but also (then Aftermath Entertainment artist) Eve. Unlike the Philly MC however, B.E.P. was given a single, amidst an album that included Dr. Dre and LL Cool J’s milestone collaboration, a Method Man, Prodigy, Kam, and KRS-One group cut, and Pras’ Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Mya-assisted hit, “Ghetto Supastar.” A Top 10 album, “Joints & Jam” would prevail. The song featured some House elements, and straightforward true school lyrics. Deep inside was even a Grease sample, something not heard in Hip-Hop since “A Rollerskating Jam Named Saturdays.”
Additional vocals came from Ingrid Dupree, not longtime B.E.P. unofficial fourth member Kim Hill (who does appear in the video). A hit in the UK, the song would propel momentum to Behind The Front. The debut, and its 2000 follow-up, Bridging The Gap, would be lukewarm successes for the major label artists. One album later, and Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson was added to the collective. Elephunk, crying out “Where Is The Love?” featuring Justin Timberlake may have prophesized what would happen next. The group who failed twice to get the Top 50, would become a Pop-embraced multi-platinum outfit. Soon, Black Eyed Peas would become international mainstays, selling more than 25 million albums of their Fergie-era releases. Just 17 years ago, “Joints & Jam” is a long road back sonically for some fans and critics. Still, masters of reinvention, as so many passed (on) the Peas, are they really to blame for adapting?
Relive the purist days in this outlasting single that got them a permanent spot, and allowed all else to follow: