will.i.am in tears as he reunites with Black Eyed Peas in London
Will.i.am had an emotional reunion with The Black Eyed Peas in London on Wednesday (05.11.16) – the first time the group have performed together in five years.
The 41-year-old rapper was joined on stage at the Royal Albert Hall by his bandmates Apl.de.ap and Taboo, however, fourth member Fergie could not make the show.
The pop genius took a moment to talk to the crowd about the group’s incredible journey from teenagers dreaming of releasing music in their bedrooms to becoming global superstars and he was reduced to tears as he professed his love for his two friends.
He said: "So, I just want to say something. I’ve known Taboo since he was 16 years old, I’ve known Apl since he was 14. It was 1994, and this guy (Apl) comes from the Philippines, he was sponsored. You know those programs on TV where they’re like, ‘For just 25 cents a day you can pay for a child (to have a better life). Well Apl is one of those kids, he’s a recipient of the kindness of people with big hearts, and their generosity, who want to give people a chance. So thank you whoever donated and changed a kid’s life, that kid could be in front of you right now. So he comes to a foreign land at 14 and a man named Joe Hudgens, with the biggest heart in the land, took him in. The first person he meets is me. He didn’t know f***ing English! And now here we are in England. When he started speaking English I would say, ‘Imagine one day going to London.’ It was my dream to come to London. Apl’s dream was, ‘I just want to go back home to the Philippines.’ He was homesick and I was sick of being home. So we had our dreams to go to the Philippines and go to London one day and then we met Taboo.
"Taboo was like, ‘Hey I’m 17, I just had a kid.’ He was a dad at 17 years old."
Taboo, 40, then interrupted his pal to describe will.i.am and apl.de.ap as his inspiration for wanting to make a better life for him and his son Joshua.
The musician – who has two other sons, Jimmy and Journey, with his wife Jaymie Dizon – said: "My first job was working at Disneyland picking up horse manure. I was picking up dung and dealing with a lot of s**t back then. Black Eyed Peas history started when we were just little kids who had a dream. The dream was always to travel the world with best friends will.i.am and apl.de.ap. The motivation was my son but the inspiration was always will.i.am and apl.de.ap to keep me going."
Holding back tears, will.i.am added: "I wanted to give you guys a snap shot of this. Three years ago I did The O2 by myself, it was great but that s**t was boring cause these guys weren’t there. I love you motherf***ers. This feels really good to be here with the people who were the seed of everything."
Will.i.am then paid tribute to missing Black Eyed Peas member Fergie, saying "we’re missing someone and I love her but the show must go on", and then dedicated their hit ‘Where Is The Love?’ to all the fans in attendance with his ‘The Voice’ protégé Lydia Lucy filling in for the missing singer.
Earlier in the show, Lydia took on Miley Cyrus’ vocals for a rendition of ‘Feelin’ Myself’ and then replaced Cheryl on ‘Heartbreaker’ which transitioned into a cover version of Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’.
Will.i.am also got close to fans to perform an impromptu DJ set at the historic venue and at one point his fellow ‘Voice’ coach Ricky Wilson joined him for a performance of ‘I Predict A Riot’.
The music maker held two free concerts, called ‘AneedA Night Out With Will.i.am’, at the venue to launch new wearable tech product the dial, which is made by his company i.am+ and is a product he believes will revolutionize the playback of digital music.
The voice-activated smartwatch runs with AI software called AneedA and the female-voiced software introduced The Black Eyed Peas by saying to will.i.am: "I notice you only took 200 steps and burnt 300 calories, usually when you perform with the Black Eyed Peas you burn more calories. Of all the songs you have performed I’m surprised you haven’t played anything by the Black Eyed Peas…"