Will.I.Am, Adl.De.Ap, Taboo, and Fergie make up the hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas. Black Eyed Peas melds the gangster style of LA hip-hop with their peace-minded and socially conscious lyrics. Audiences are attracted to the group’s “inventive approach to hip-hop music, inspiring people with loose rhymes, and a positive spirit and funkafied vibe” (www.blackeyedpeas.com). The group joined with Justin Timberlake to record “Where is the Love?”, a combination that landed them a nomination in the 2004 Grammy Awards for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. The history of Black Eyed Peas begins in high school when Will.I.Am and Apl.De.Ap were part of a break dancing group, Tribal Nation. The two decided to focus more on hip-hop music, and later broke off of Tribal Nation to form Atban Klann. In 1992, they signed with Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records. The group’s record deal ended when Eazy-E died from AIDS in 1995. Will.I.Am and Apl.De.Ap then brought on Taboo as a dancer and became Black Eyed Peas. In 1998, Black Eyed Peas released their debut album Behind the Front with backing vocalist Kim Hill. Fergie later replaced Kim Hill in the group’s most recent album Elephunk.
Other songs by Black Eyed Peas shout a message condemning violence, terrorism, and racism. The song “Anxiety” talks about the urge for violence, but artist’s refusal to give in to it. Although they protest violence, Black Eyed Peas shows no resistance to sexuality. In the song “Sexy,” they sing, “Let’s let it go/ And do what we do best/ Take off our clothes/ We look better undressed… Let’s get sexy.” Black Eyed Peas expresses concern for the prevalence of violence in society, but shows no concern for the sexuality found in nearly every corner of today’s culture and media.
Where Is The Love? Sample Lyrics
What’s wrong with the world, mama/People livin’ like they ain’t got no mamas
I think the whole world addicted to the drama/Only attracted to things that’ll bring you trauma
Overseas, yeah, we try to stop terrorism/But we still got terrorists here livin’
In the USA, the big CIA/The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK
But if you only have love for your own race/Then you only leave space to discriminate
And to discriminate only generates hate/And when you hate then you’re bound to get irate, yeah….
People killin’, people dyin’/Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach/And would you turn the other cheek
Father, Father, Father help us/Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’/Where is the love (Love)
Where is the love (The love)/Where is the love (The love)
Where is the love/The love, the love
(courtesy of www.azlyrics.com)
“Where Is The Love?” recognizes the world as it is, inculcated with violence and hate. This song paints a picture of chaos in a broken world. The lyrics address problems such as violence, terrorism, gangs, racism, hate, and anger. “Where Is The Love?” looks at the negative impact of hypocrisy, disrespect, lies, materialism, selfishness, media, and a lack of values. The values that should be sought are fairness, equality, understanding, and unity. Beyond these, the greatest value that can overcome this world of pain is love. Although Black Eyed Peas upholds love as the hope for straightening out society, they question if such love can even be found. Emptiness and despair result from the lack of love, described in the song as “feelin’ under” and “feelin’ down.”
Black Eyed Peas looks at the world around them with all its problems and asks one simple question: where is the love? This question itself reflects a sense that the world ought to be one way, but it is not. If all were as it should be, love would permeate the world. Yet this is not the case. The chorus pleads to God for guidance in surviving a world where love is absent. The world of love this song yearns for is the world God created and the world sin destroyed. “Where Is The Love?” raises the question and Christ is the answer.
Use In Ministry
“Where Is The Love?” can be used in a youth program to spark discussion regarding humanity’s need for the love of Christ. Playing the song before a talk will get kids thinking about the state of the world and where love can be found when everything seems to be going wrong. It can lead into a discussion about how God did not create the world to be full of pain, violence, and hopelessness. God created the world out of love and for the purpose of love. God meant humanity to be in a loving relationship with Him and with others. Yet this is not the case because of sin, which works to destroy love.
So can any love be found? The answer is yes, in Jesus Christ. The talk can provide portraits of Christ’s love in the midst of pain. Jesus’ protection of the woman caught in adultery, his parable of the prodigal son, his touching a leper to heal him, and ultimately his suffering and death are all examples of the love of Christ that permeated both his life and death. Christ died to restore people back into loving relationships with God and one another.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- What problems about society and life in general come to mind when you hear this song?
- What types of things do you see at school and at home that make you want to ask this same question: where is the love?
- If this isn’t the way you want the world to be, what would you change to make things better?
- Who or what do you turn to when you look for love?
More than ever, today’s youth culture looks critically at the dominant culture and questions why things are the way they are. Youth are not content to stay silent as they pay the price for the mistakes of their parents’ generation. Divorce, materialism, drugs, and abuse all lead to the brokenness, confusion, loneliness, and lack of meaning that characterize teenagers’ lives. The youth culture recognizes that this sort of a life is wrong. They experience pain first-hand and long for change. Songs like “Where Is The Love?” provide an outlet to express the frustration and grief youth feel towards the destructive influences surrounding them in their lives.
Youth leaders can utilize this frustration to help kids bring about change. Criticizing society will not be helpful for youth unless they can convert their emotions into action. Service learning that seeks social justice, political involvement, and selfless service can all work to offset the pain in the world. In yearning to find love, youth can turn around and give love to others.
It would also be helpful for parents to listen to this song and realize the pain and hopelessness their children feel. Although it is all-too-often not the case, one’s family should always be a source of love. Youth leaders can challenge parents to consider why their kids feel that they can’t find love. The more parents communicate with their kids about the pain that exists in the world and in their own lives, the more opportunity kids will have to process their frustrations in healthy ways.
The truest form of love can only be found in Christ. Apart from Christ, all things lead to death. With Christ, all things lead to life. If someone is searching for love and hope, he can turn to Christ. Everyone and everything else in life can disappoint us, but God’s love will never disappoint. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, not powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39). Proclaiming this truth of the gospel is the ultimate implication for the brokenness and lack of love experienced by youth today.
Meagan Frey, A.J. Hanenburg
© 2020 CYS