x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Interview with Allan 'Apl.de.ap' Pineda from Black Eyed Peas

The Black Eyed Peas' Filipino rapper Allan 'Apl.de.ap' Pineda is performing at Dubai's Nasimi Beach on Thursday.

Allan 'Apl.de.ap' Pineda migrated to the US from the Philippines as a child. Imaginechina
Allan 'Apl.de.ap' Pineda migrated to the US from the Philippines as a child. Imaginechina

The Black Eyed Peas may have announced an indefinite hiatus at the conclusion of their latest tour last year, but that didn't stop the creative process for some members.

Will.i.am went on to record his second solo album #willpower, to be released next month.

As for Allan "Apl.de.ap" Pineda, the tour bus rolled on, with the Filipino rapper going on another world tour as a DJ. He lands in Dubai on Thursday night to perform at Nasimi Beach at Atlantis The Palm and says it is on the road where he feels most refreshed.

"Some of us in the band took time off but for me I just like to keep going," he says. "DJing is one of my hobbies. This is a time where I can play my Black Eyed Peas songs, my own new songs and the songs that I like."

With the Black Eyed Peas regularly performing to packed stadiums, Pineda says the change to smaller venues doesn't affect his performance - the live thrill is still there.

"It is the same excitement and I do have a good time because you can really see people enjoying it with me," he says. "I get to DJ and sing and play other people's songs, so in a way you are getting two acts in one."

Pineda explains his hard work ethic stems from his childhood, when he migrated to the US from the Philippines as an adopted child.

He may have been 11 years old, but Pineda says he was old enough to realise his move was an opportunity not to be squandered.

"Coming from the Philippines to the US did shape me in that it gave me perseverance," he says. "And you know what? It is the same in Dubai when I see people going over there to work and provide for their family. I also have that mentality."

Pineda may usually be far away from home but the Philippines is always close to his heart. His trips back are not merely homecomings.

Pineda uses his wealth and fame to create educational opportunities for local youth - something that wasn't around when he was growing up.

Under his Apl Foundation, Pineda has built more than 20 classrooms around the country, in addition to computer labs wired with free internet.

The helping hand is also extended to the local hip-hop community with his music company Jeepney Music, based in Los Angeles, managing Filipino artists such as Free School, DJ Rockyrock, DJ MIA and PoetNameLife.

Pineda explains the urge to give back is a direct result of his early adoption. "It is really important for me to help my culture," he says.

"When I see the discrepancy between kids in the Philippines and the US, I feel like I have to give them an opportunity. I was one of these kids and now that I have the voice and power to help, well, it is why I now do it."

Pineda's focus on hip-hop music as a means to build self-esteem is not simply due to his affinity with the genre. It allowed him to communicate effectively when first meeting fellow eighth grader will.i.am in Los Angeles in 1989.

"My English wasn't so good at the time," he offers. "Will asked me: 'Well, what do you do in the Philippines?' And I said I learnt this new move called the Running Man. And he was like: 'What? You know the Running Man in the Philippines?'"

That first cross-cultural exchange with will.i.am laid the seeds for the Black Eyed Peas' eclectic sounds.

It also explains his continuous treks around the globe.

"It expanded Will's horizons and mine as well," Pineda says. "Our first song Joints and Jam was also talking about how we wanted to travel beyond America and just rapping to our homies - we wanted to travel and perform to everyone."

• Apl.de.ap will play at Nasimi Beach at Atlantis The Palm in Dubai on Thursday. Doors open at 6pm. Tickets are Dh165 from www.timeouttickets.com.

Follow Arts & Life on Twitter to keep up with all the latest news and events @LifeNationalUAE