Single Review: Black Eyed Peas & Justin Timberlake “Where Is The Love?”

Where Is The Love?
Album: Elephunk
Year: 2003

The Black Eyed Peas are spreading the message of peace, love and understanding with a side of some trendy Bush bashing in the self-righteous “Where Is The Love?”

In the first verse, Americans’ soap opera attitude towards life is examined. Every moment must be recorded for the purpose of humilation while children are living without mothers. However, it is why they are acting like immoral adults now. (“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”). According to the song’s generalizations, if a child doesn’t have a mother they are lost already. Unfortunately, for a lot of young children’s mothers are as deadbeat and screwed up as their fathers. Not every woman has the maternal instinct.

Next, the government’s hypocrisy with terrorism is addressed. (“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”). At the U.S. Navy website, overseas terrorists were listed. However, the Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front Carnival Against Capitalism were absent. (source: FBI) While the KKK is not mentioned, a similar group called Aryan Nations was listed under domestic terrorism. According to the current Washington Post, the CIA has a lawsuit which was brought upon by John and Jane Doe, two former spies “the mere existence of the case is unwelcome news for the CIA, because it reopens an issue that has plagued the agency for years: accusations that the CIA entices spies and defectors with sweet offers of cash and comfort, then puts them back out in the cold once they are no longer useful.” Could it be terrorism? It’s a gray area and beyond the scope of my blog. Here, the Black Eyed Peas make their point properly. They bring up groups not normally thought of as terrorist groups who vandalize and kill, if necessary, just as the overseas terrorists do.

Then, bigotry only leads to anger and hate (“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”). The Black Eyed Peas just want people to chill and do some yoga to solve their problems. (“Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight/Take control of your mind and meditate/Let your soul gravitate to the love, y’all, y’all”).

Justin Timberlake sings the chorus, asking what happened to the way society used to be as he is disgusted with people’s actions today. He seeks God’s help. (“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”). The religious references are explicit, sending the message America has become a faithless nation.

There are some generalizations and stereotypes which are bothersome. The first being, society was better off in the earlier years. It’s a myth. There was McCarthyism, back-alley abortions, black people denied civil rights, etc.

The world has gone mad. Countries are bombing each other and killing children in the process, including the U.S. which is implied (“Why are there pieces of love that don’t belong/Nations droppin’ bombs/Chemical gasses fillin’ lungs of little ones/With ongoin’ sufferin’ as the youth die young”). People base decisions on the bribes they receive (“In this world that we livin’ in people keep on givin’ in/Makin’ wrong decisions, only visions of them dividends”). The Iraq War is based on a lie and without any true response from the United States government. (“A war is goin’ on but the reason’s undercover/The truth is kept secret, it’s swept under the rug”). The lyric turned out to be true as Bush’s claim of Iraq had weapons of mass destruction turned out to be false.

People are selfish and out to make as money as possible. However, the irony is lost on the Black Eyed Peas. Up until 2003, the Black Eyed Peas made indie, arty hip hop which wasn’t the least bit commercial. (“Most of us only care about money makin’/Selfishness got us followin’ our wrong direction”). Jabs are taken at the media, who are labeled inaccurate and violent (“Wrong information always shown by the media/Negative images is the main criteria/Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria”). Each news outlet has a bias, including the independent sources. Fox is known to favor Republican while CBS are liberal. The Black Eyed Peas want people to have some humanity and follow morals. (“yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity/Whatever happened to the fairness in equality/Instead in spreading love we spreading animosity”).

“Where Is The Love” want to solve the problem by wanting people to love. Love’s great and all but it’s a quick answer. If they had stuck to one topic instead of many (racism, media, the Iraq War), they could’ve made a decent argument. It’s also safe. The Black Eyed Peas don’t want to offend anyone and by doing so, stick to general opinions people already agree with.

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