From Where Is The Love to Pump It, I Gotta Feeling, and more, Apl.De.Ap has had a hand in some of our favorite timeless bops.
Apl.De.Ap, also known as Allan Pineda Lindo, is well aware of the power of creating rhythm and harmony. After all, the Filipino blood running through this Pampanga native is pumped with musical talent that helped turn him into a global star. Because of his genius when it comes to music and storytelling, he is a force to be reckoned with, a potential fully realized when he moved to the US and helped form a little-known indie group called the Black Eyed Peas. You may have heard of them.
To say the group changed modern music history is an understatement as they proved to be a musical cornerstone. From the mid-2000s to the early 2010s, the group released timeless bops that still hit to this day. And within all their success, which includes 16 Grammys, is Apl, a founding member who proudly wears his Filipino roots on his sleeves. He has experience navigating the music industry, with his decades of music-making earning him veteran status. And in his journey of establishing his reputation in the music world, Apl has maintained his Filipino heritage through his poetic mind.
Music and performing were inherent to Apl.De.Ap as he began as a dancer in the early 2000s. “Will and I bonded over rap music, so we spent our time dancing and going to parties and competitions. He’d rap, and I’d dance,” he shares with NYLON Manila about his early days with fellow Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am. Apl, like any other artist, is in the spotlight bringing harmony through his poetic words and music.
But while the talent and potential were there, Black Eyed Peas didn’t achieve success overnight. “The first two albums we did were well received, but didn’t sell,” he recalls. “The label was considering dropping us. And then everything changed one day.” That moment, of course, was when they added Fergie to the lineup and dropped their 2003 album, Elephunk. Its success propelled the group to worldwide stardom, and the rest, as they say, is history.
It’s safe to say that Apl.De.Ap is one of the first Filipinos to achieve mass success in the US and global music scene, helping pave the way for others to follow. But his roots initially made him an outsider in the industry. “When I first got to the US, hanging out in the studios of famous rappers, I was inevitably considered weird,” admits the rapper. In his stillness with music, he created magnificent tracks, which included some that flex his heritage, like Bebot. “Bebot was just me wanting to add Tagalog to my music.”
Along the way, the rapper has also collaborated with known international artists. “One of the first groups I loved and connected with was A Tribe Called Quest. If you listen to our older music, you can see that we took a lot of inspiration from them. And then we collaborated with Phife and Q-Tip, and that was an incredible experience. Then there are people like Justin Timberlake.”
With his talent in writing and producing music, Apl is a visionary himself. Using his talent, he is open to everything in terms of issues that are happening around the world. For inspiration, he looks to the world, he says. ”That sounds cheesy, but it’s true. We take sounds from our travels and what people are dancing and listening to everywhere we go.”
It’s in this inspiration that some of the group’s best anthems were born, such as the seminal Where Is The Love. “Where Is The Love was a reflection of 9/11. We were getting ready to go on tour in San Francisco when it happened,” narrates Apl on the track’s origins. With their purpose as a group, the group uses music to tell a narrative that is relevant even today. “It started a series of conversations that became this song.” And as the story goes, he is not just writing music, but also telling stories that matter as boldly and bravely as possible.
BEYOND ALL THINGS
Truth be told, current and past members such as will.i.am and Fergie may get the lion’s share of attention, but there’s no denying the impact Apl.De.Ap has had. Even outside group activities, Apl is an active presence in the music scene. And through it all is that nod to his Filipino heritage. “People love our culture. And while some may feel it is weird, that notion is becoming less and less true. Keep spreading it, and you’ll find that people will show you more love than you can imagine.”
As for his advice to the younger generations who are in the music industry. “It’s a big industry and there’s actually a lot of opportunity in this space, despite the common notion that it’s for starving artists. Writers, producers, engineers, there’s a large world for people to do what they love.” Wise words from the Filipino rapper and philanthropist.