“Where Is the Love?” by The Black Eyed Peas

Perhaps more than any other track that came out during the first decade of the 21st century, “Where Is the Love?” is one of those types of songs that if you heard it once, it got stuck in your head. This is partially due to the fact that it features a very-universal message centered on espousing love between fellow human beings. But the verses themselves serve more as a social commentary. Moreover, whereas this sentimental track was conceptualized in direct response to the 9/11 terrorist attack, this is not some cheesy ‘we are the world’ moment, so to speak. Rather true to their rap-music origins, the Black Eyed Peas use the opportunity to also criticize the American government and even the state of the society as a whole.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for The Black Eyed Peas's Where Is the Love? at Lyrics.org.

For instance, in the first verse Will.i.am famously refers to the CIA itself as a terrorist organization. And he recognizes the infamous African-American street gangs, the Bloods and the Crips, as such also. But more to the point, the rappers are speaking to a lack of love being displayed not only on a macrocosmic but also individual level. Or it can be said, as philosophized by Taboo, that as time progresses, they perceive people as becoming less and less sympathetic for each other. Rather, as Apl.de.ap points out, we are becoming more ‘selfish’ and centered on ‘money making’.

Meanwhile it is during the chorus where the titular question is being posed. And even though it can be classified as a vague inquiry, it is still powerful nonetheless. For the featured singers also recognize that the world is in a challenging state. Indeed they are even calling for help “from above” to alleviate the situation. But throughout it all they are also asking where is the love? Or stated otherwise, how can people act like nothing is going on while ‘children are hurting’ and ‘people are dying’? And how long will the powers-that-be continue to commit acts which contribute to these realities or behave as if they don’t really exist?

The song climaxes with somewhat of a globalist sentiment, if you will. And that is the artists acknowledging that we, the world, are all in this together. As such, there should be a concerted, let’s say mentally-unified effort to bring about the peace and “love” which is being espoused throughout.

When did the Black Eyed Peas release “Where is the Love?”

This classic track was officially released on 16 June 2003. It is the lead single from the group’s third album, “Elephunk”. And the labels that put it out include Will.i.am’s own label W.M. Group.

Production and Writing

The producers of this song are Will.i.am alongside regular collaborator Ron Fair.

Will.i.am is also one of the co-writers, as are his bandmates Taboo and Apl.de.ap. And the other co-writers are as follows:

  • George Pajon
  • Michal Fratantuno
  • Printz Board
  • J. Curtis
  • Justin Timberlake (who is also featured on the song)

Timberlake’s Secret Involvement on “Where is the Love?”

Initially music superstar Timberlake was not recognized as a featured artist. This was due to the fact that the track came out around the same time as his first solo album, “Justified” (2002). And Jive Records, the label behind the project, did not want him to be overexposed. So even though he was allowed to contribute vocally, the acknowledgement of his contribution was at first kept to a minimum. This includes Justin not even making an appearance on the music video.

Fergie’s Involvement and Success

This is the first Black Eyed Peas’ track to feature vocalist Fergie, who was a member of the group from 2003 until 2017

Those who are familiar with the Black Eyed Peas from their early days may remember that prior to this classic, they were more of a standard rap group. Their transition into pop music, which this song marked, was encouraged by their label, as up until that point they were having difficulty selling records.

That being said, even though the group had established a name for themselves prior to “Where Is the Love?”, for all intents and purposes this was the song that really put them on the map. Simply put, it was their first mega-hit. For instance, it earned the crew a couple of Grammy nominations in 2004. But more importantly was the way it sold, i.e. was received by global community. For instance, it received Platinum certification or better in seven different countries. And in the UK, it proved to be the top-selling song of the entirety of 2003. And this was despite the fact that at the time, Briton didn’t really know who the Black Eyed Peas were.

Accordingly, it also reached number one on both the UK Singles Chart and UK R&B Chart.  It also topped music charts in over 15 other countries, including Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40 and Rhythmic listings.

2016 Remake

In 2016, the Black Eyed Peas put together a supergroup to re-record this tune in response to prevailing social issues of that era. It featured many big names, amongst them being Jamie Foxx, Diddy, Nicole Scherzinger, Mary J. Blige, The Game, Usher, DJ Khaled and of course Timberlake. Moreover other celebrities such as Kendall Jenner, Jaden Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Quincy Jones appeared in the music video. And like with any true music supergroup, the proceeds from the song were donated to charity.

Notable Live Performance

The Black Eyed Peas also performed this track live alongside Ariana Grande (in place of Fergie) at an event called One Love Manchester in 2017. This concert itself was in response to a terrorist incident, that being the bombing of Manchester Arena on 22 May 2017 (during an Ariana Grande concert).

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