Where Is the Love?

Black Eyed Peas, 2003

When the song was released in 2003, why were the group's members questioning where love was?

How do the members of the group use the song to question the United States' priorities?

What do you think is meant by "turn the other cheek"?

Compare and contrast the 2003 version of the song to 2016's "#WHERESTHELOVE ft. The World." What new issues was the world facing in 2016? How has the message of the song changed?

"Where Is the Love" performed Black Eyed Peas on Elephunk, © 2003. Available on YouTube, iTunes, and Spotify.

For more information about the Black Eyed Peas, visit their official website.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult the following online resource for lyrics:

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/
blackeyedpeas/whereisthelove.html

"Where Is the Love?" was released in June 2003 on the Black Eyed Peas' first hit album, Elephunk. In the Los Angeles underground hip-hop scene of the 1990s, the Black Eyed Peas had earned a reputation as an "alternative hip-hop" group. Rather than glamorizing gangster life, as was common in rap at the time, they addressed issues of social significance. "Where Is the Love?" is a song in this vein. (For more on the Black Eyed Peas, see "The APL Song.")

Black-eyed peas
The Black Eyed Peas

The song is a response to the American invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The verses are traded between the group's three rappers. In the first verse, will.i.am criticizes fighting terrorism overseas when terror, discrimination, and hate are left unaddressed at home. In the second verse Taboo calls out leaders for greedily waging wars and lying about their true motivations. And in the final verse Apl.de.ap accuses the media of promoting hate and blames it for driving people apart. Each verse leads to the hook, sung by Justin Timberlake and accompanied by Fergie, which invokes Jesus's call to avoid violence by "turning the other cheek" and asks, in a prayer, for help finding love in the world.

The music video highlights the neglect of LA's poor neighborhoods while wars are waged overseas. The members of the group post images of question marks throughout East LA as a symbol of the song's central question, and children and others from the city join the chorus to plead, "Where is the love?" During the third verse, the video provides an example of common negative and divisive portrayals of African Americans in the media, showing Apl.de.ap being chased by white police officers.

In September 2016 the Black Eyed Peas updated the song as "#WHERESTHELOVE ft. The World" and released a new video that places it in a much broader context. Between shots of the artists singing and rapping, images are shown of African Americans who have been killed by police officers, violent clashes between police and protesters, the Syrian Civil War and refugee crisis, and white-nationalist iconography. Numerous cameos are made by celebrities as well as Sandra Sterling, aunt of Alton Sterling, and Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile. Alton and Philando were both shot and killed by white police officers.