The Black Eyed Peas became global superstars during the second half of the 2000s with a stream of turbocharged dance pop singles, but they abandon that sound on their latest track. Instead, the group returns to the sample-heavy, socially-conscious hip-hop they favored early in their career. The beat to “Street Livin'” features a melancholy horn loop and clipped drums; it could easily have come out in 1998.
The group use this backdrop for a series of verses about the consequences of white supremacy. “They derailed the soul train and put a nightmare into every Martin Luther King,” will.i.am raps. “And private complexes are owned by the same slave masters that owned the slave trade game.” Later he adds, “there’s more niggas that’s rotting in the prisons than there ever were slaves cotton picking.”
“Street Livin'” is a companion piece to the Black Eyed Peas’ recently released graphic novel Masters of the Sun: The Zombie Chronicles. The group plans to debut a Masters of the Sun virtual reality experience at the Sundance Film Festival later this month. The VR experience will be narrated by famous comic creator Stan Lee and scored in part by Hans Zimmer.