Behind the glory of every man breeds a story, and Grammy Award-winning Taboo of The Black Eyed Peas is no different. Contrary to what some may believe, all the glamour, spotlight, music awards and international fame can’t protect a person from the one individual he tries to escape: himself. In FALLIN’ UP: My Story, Taboo recounts his journey, which includes his relationship with his family, his rebellious and curious years, his life with the Black Eyed Peas and his future endeavors.
Taboo, born Jaime Luis Gomez, grew up in East Los Angeles between el barrio and a mixed-race community where he was influenced by the Spanish music his beloved grandmother listened to when he was a child, part of which fueled his love for music and his culture.
“I was not only influenced by the style of music, I was also influenced by the visual aspect of it and the atmosphere,” Taboo explains.
While he embraced his Mexican American and Shoshone cultures, Taboo says he couldn’t escape the pulse of hip hop––a style of music that some during that time didn’t understand. He aspired to pursue a career as a performer from an early age as a break-dancer in the streets, and as an admirer of the soulful legends Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and others he grew up listening to in his home. His love for all types of music, along with his unique style are how Taboo gained his nickname.
“Growing up, some thought it was ‘taboo’ to hang out with people who didn’t share the same background, which was crazy to me,” he admits. “People didn’t know whether I was Latino, Native American or black. I refused to conform.”
Taboo says in high school it was important for him to work hard to get a great job offer to help support his family. In his book, he discusses his rebellious years as a teenager and young adult on the streets and in the hip-hop clubs of L.A., where he learned to perfect his craft as a dancer and performer. That scene brought Taboo together with will.i.am and apl.de.ap, a formula that started The Black Eyed Peas. A few years later, soulful singer and rapper Stacy Ferguson (Fergie) joined the group, and Taboo says she adds her own appeal and strength to the mix.
“Our [The Black Eyed Peas] friendship makes us connect,” he says. “We have fun, laugh and share our different experiences with each other. We are also supportive of each other.”
Band members rallied and supported Taboo after he was arrested in March 2007 for rear-ending a woman while under the influence of drugs, a day he admits changed his life. Just a few weeks prior, the group celebrated its success at the 49th Grammy Awards. While Taboo spent time in jail, he says he reflected on what brought him to that point. He reflected on his life when he became a young teen father, his other child, wife and the rest of his family. He also remembered one of the main people in his life he never wanted to disappoint: his grandmother.
Four years later, The Black Eyed Peas continue to rebel against conforming against the norm, from their unique style of music and their eclectic wardrobes.
“I like taking chances with my outfits and I love shoes,” Taboo confesses.
With a new baby on the way, his line of shoes available at Foot Action and an aspiration to continue the pursuit of acting, Taboo shows no signs of looking back –– or fallin’ down.
Follow Taboo on Twitter @TabBep.