Taboo, one of the founding members of the super group the Black Eyed Peas knows all too well the struggle of breaking out of one’s own personal rain cloud. Unbeknownst to many, while we were all dangling at the ear candy of hits like Where Is the Love, Don’t Phunk with My Heart, My Humps, and Pump It, the kid who’d once survived the mean streets of Los Angeles, was now an adult dealing with an even bigger battle; his personal struggle to overcome a reckless addiction to drugs and alcohol.
“Fallin’ Up”, his new autobiography, written with the help of ghostwriter Steve Dennis, illustrates how the Black Eyed Peas were formed, how they rose to superstardom, as well as Taboo’s parallel journey to overcome his addictions, adhere to the roles of fatherhood, and capture serendipity with a love named Jaymie Dizon.
Written with a pure and passionate prose, his story is sure to inspire others, and encourage a world of onlookers to harness their own personal victories. Taboo sat down with Insight News to talk about “Fallin’ Up”, and where he’s at in his life today as the guy who people know as the ‘Tea man’, in the club.
Alaina L. Lewis: So what made you want to sit down and actually pen this novel; unleashing all your vulnerabilities to the world?
Taboo: It was therapeutic to be able to tell my story as well as the story of the Black Eyed Peas and how we were formed, through my eyes. It was an initial way for people to get to know me as an individual, and all the craziness that comes along with the fame, fortune, and success—the wild antics, everything that people didn’t know about when it comes to what happened on tour with me. I wanted to get that out. It was a chance for me to also let people know how big of an inspiration my grandmother was. That was the first initial change in my life that allowed me to know that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life, performance wise.
AL: When did you feel like you had finally reached success versus greatness, because there really is a difference between the two?
Ta: Success is something that is acquired; fame is something that you become. I always thought to myself that I wanted to be successful so I could take care of my kids, my wife, and my family. For me, I think that a big step for me to say success happened was doing the Super Bowl. That was a huge moment of success for us—for the Black Eyed Peas as a group that started in 1995 and had dreams to tour around the world, but never imagined that we would be the first hip hop band performing at the Super Bowl. The thing about it, as best friends, we’ve always had to overcome the road blocks because of our ethnic background. I’m Mexican-American, Apl.de.ap. is Filipino, Will-i-am is African American, so we’ve always had to prove ourselves as capable of rocking the big stages, traveling the world, and creating a sound that would transcend a culture. We definitely made it relevant that night.
AL: What was your journey like after treatment? How are you able to stay centered?
Ta: I did this treatment called Prometa, which takes away urges and cravings for drugs, alcohol, smoking, cigarettes—any urges or cravings. That really helped me to be in those environments. The first year I was really scared. I didn’t want to be in the environment because I was getting used to it being a part of my personal job. Now when I go to after parties that we’re hired to do, I always have my green tea, and I get flack for it, but it’s become who I am. People already know me as the ‘Tea man’, at the club, and I enjoy that. I enjoy being the individual that doesn’t need drinks, or doesn’t need to fall into the same category as everybody else. I’ve matured a lot since the epiphany.
AL: How has your epiphany strengthened your relationship with your son?
Ta: Me and Josh have grown together as father and son. It took me a while to really understand the power that being a father presented. There’s a lot of strength that comes with it, but for so many years I was so clouded and delusional because I was abusing substances and drinking. I was kind of a joke. I was kind of like that embarrassing dad that my son didn’t want to be around because I would say things at restaurants, and disrespect people… It was one of those things, one of those moments, where I felt like I wasn’t up to par to be a parent. Now we have an understanding. I think the book will give you a better insight, and it will help you see the journey more.
AL: When you were struggling with substances, did you ever feel like you were at risk of being ousted from the Black Eyed Peas?
Ta: No, because we were so supportive of the good times or the bad times. My partners were always there for me, and they stuck with me no matter what, whether I was coherent or incoherent. They really believed in me enough to be there. That’s the strength of the group, the people around me, my family, and my parents. I never felt like that, but I did feel like I was letting them down, especially the day that I got arrested.