Were you always politically active?
I wouldn’t call it political. I’m socially conscious to things that are happening in our society. Four years ago we supported Kerry and did our thing up and down the East Coast, from Miami to Boston and New York — and we raised a lot of money for him. We were really enthused thinking that America would wake up from the nightmare of the ‘Bush Tornado,’ but some people don’t know how to let go of their fears. But that’s understandable. We were in tough times, thinking that it couldn’t get any worse, but it didn’t get any better. So there’s a lot of people who lost hope… They didn’t believe in the American system because four years in a row — eight years when you add them all up — you felt like you got slapped around. And people felt that way: the youth, adults, poor people, rich people, black and white, Asian, Latinos, Democrats, and Republicans. But this time, it’s different because there is a movement; it’s not an agenda, it’s a movement. People are united… There’s somebody who represents “us” in the U.S. People forget that in U.S.A. there is “us” right before the “a.”
How important is it that your work is an inspiration to the youth?
If someone in Soweto, in Africa, or Philippines, or Brazil, or Indonesia, Bangkok, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana… all the poverty-stricken areas, or right here at home — Watts, Harlem — if they’ve been inspired by me, then that’s awesome. It’s medicine for me. It’s more or less how my mom raised me: to respect people and to treat people the way you want to be treated and don’t make a fool out of yourself.
What were your dreams when you helped start Black Eyed Peas?
My dream at the time was to move my mom out of the projects. I remember I had the thought, ‘What happens when I finally move my mom out ? What’s going to be my drive then?’ Then, I moved her out and I realized then that my drive was to continue paying the mortgage. Now I have my aunt, and I want to move my aunt out of the projects.
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