Will.i.am did it. Fergie did it. Now Apl.de.ap, one of the original founders of the Black Eyed Peas, is doing it as well: stepping out for a solo album. His full-length, AP3, is due out early this year, and today Billboard is exclusively premiering the video for the AP3 track “Be.” Watch it below.
“Be” reaches back to an early ’00s hip-hop sound — a mix of Dr. Dre/Scott Storch keyboards and rugged New York rap percussion. The clip for the track sets Apl.de.ap in the middle of a violent video-game landscape along with the Canadian-Cambodian rapper Honey Cocaine and the singer Jessica Reynoso (a finalist in the first season of The Voice Philippines). Lulu & Lala, identical twins who host a show on Miami’s Hits 97.3, also make a video-game world cameo. In the end, the virtual connection Apl.de.ap makes leads to real-life romance.
What’s a global superstar like Apl.de.ap doing working with a relative unknown like Honey Cocaine? “I caught Honey’s flow online and knew I had to collaborate with her on one of my tracks,” he tells Billboard. “There’s a few things about her that made this song come together real well. First off, she’s real. You don’t find many like that in the industry nowadays. Her skills on the mic are ridiculous and the fact that she’s this little feisty Asian rapper, I think is just dope.”
The movie came together in “two days and five locations around NYC and Jersey,” followed by some filming “in Azerbaijan, Baku and a couple more days in the Philippines.” Apl.de.ap explains: “Ultimately, the video and song are about being yourself and having self-confidence. Today, I see so many people trying to be someone they’re not, especially online. Even I got caught up in that for a hot minute.”
But Apl.de.ap eventually “realized that I was worrying too much about how my followers and fanbase saw me… Sometimes it ain’t about the comments, the profile pic, or the best photo of yourself retouched to perfection. It’s about living in the moment and connecting with everyone else that comes into your life. ” To reflect this, the video ends with an uplifiting message: “Be a doctor. Be a rock star. Be an artist. Be a gamer. Just be.”