Black Eyed Peas Trade Pop For Politics In Powerful Visual On American Racism "Street Livin'" presents a stark departure for the Top 40 hip-hop group.
YouTube

All Songs TV

Black Eyed Peas Trade Pop For Politics In Powerful Visual On American Racism

When you sell 40 million records and enjoy the kind of crossover appeal Black Eyed Peas have, it usually comes at the cost of street cred. But in "Street Livin'," a dark, haunting new visual, the hip-hop group trades pop success for political commentary on the systemic ills plaguing the streets today.

"Street niggas, caught in the trap / guns or books, sell crack or rap?" will.i.am starts over a bluesy horn riff in the first verse. "Be like kings or be like pawns / they called us coons now they call us cons."

Directed by will.i.am, the video uses iconographic photography — including shots of civil rights icons Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X — to indict the systemic racism behind mass incarceration, from the Jim Crow era to the crack era, and prohibitive immigration policies. Released the same week that President Trump reportedly referred to Haiti and African nations as "shithole countries," its truths speak volumes.

"'Street Livin'" was written to show that today's struggles in the inner city is no different from Jim Crow, civil rights issues, heroin and jazz, crack and hip-hop, black-on-black crime vs. black lives matter, prisons vs. education, apartheid and DACA," Will.i.Am writes about the song and video, which is part of a new graphic novel project, Masters of the Sun. "The difference between then and now is the distractions of today. The purpose of 'Street Livin" is to play our part in waking people up and keeping the #stayWOKE movement alive."

[+] read more[-] less

More From All Songs TV

Andrew Bird Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

First Watch: Andrew Bird Is Bloodless

Andrew Bird sings, "it's an uncivil war bloodless for now / and the poets they explode like bombs." Watch Andrew Bird peer into our distracted culture precisely when it needs our attention.

JS Ondara's debut album Tales of America is out Feb. 1 on Verve Forecast. Josh Cheuse/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Josh Cheuse/Courtesy of the artist

The 'American Dream' Through The Kenyan Eyes Of J.S. Ondara

J.S. Ondara's "American Dream" video follows a delusional man on his journey to purchase a weapon.

Steve Hassett and Zoe Randell of Luluc Charlotte de Mezamat/Courtesy of the artistr hide caption

toggle caption Charlotte de Mezamat/Courtesy of the artistr

Luluc's 'Kids' Is An Ode To Restless Youth

The Australian duo's video and song, "Kids," is an anthem for teens trying to find their place in the world.

Rising Appalachia Chad Hess/Courtesy of the Artist hide caption

toggle caption Chad Hess/Courtesy of the Artist

Rising Appalachia Write A 'Resilient' Anthem

The sister duo's song and dance-filled video is an uplifting and life-affirming ballad for challenging times.

Back To Top