For, PH connection makes collab with Sandara Park a ‘no brainer’

For, PH connection makes collab with Sandara Park a ‘no brainer’ —PHOTOS COURTESY OF BLACKSTAR has been in the industry for more than 30 years now, but still shows no signs of slowing down.

A man of many talents, the hip-hop artist continues to juggle various creative and philanthropic endeavors. He continues to put out music with the iconic group Black Eyed Peas while pursuing other solo music projects. He does judging stints for singing contests, and mentors artists through his own entertainment company.

Outside music, he spearheads initiatives that champion youth empowerment, education and sustainability through his namesake foundation.

How does he do it? “I do things I’m passionate about, so I don’t feel like I’m working. All these things are more of motivation for me,” told the Inquirer in a recent roundtable interview.

And while he’s proud of his success and achievements, the fire in him, he said, hasn’t waned one bit. “I still love competing … You see something dope and I’m like, ‘Oh, let me see if I can match that kind of energy,’” he said.

“I’m still very inspired, writing songs in my head. I love that while doing all those other things at the same time,” said the music artist, who’s currently working on music with J. Rey Soul, the Filipino-American touring vocalist of the Black Eyed Peas. Apl.deAp also keeps in touch with some of his mentees from “The Voice Philippines.”

“They’re amazing. They write their own stuff. So, I want to help them out, bring their vision to fruition. I think there’s so much more to do,” related Apl.deAp, who served as a coach in multiple seasons of the talent search competition.

Sandara Park


Student of the craft

Despite his stature and the fact that a lot of aspiring artists look up to him, he still sees himself as a student of the craft. “I still learn from other artists. I want to keep experimenting and trying new things and genres. I’m inspired by my family, friends, heartbreaks and conversations,” he said.

And that’s exactly how his latest single, “2 Proud,” which features Sandara Park, came about. has recently taken an interest in Afrobeat, which influenced the song’s vibe.

“Sometimes, it all just comes out naturally, especially with this song. I was feeling it while writing the song. I was going through it. When you’re heartbroken, people tell you, ‘Go write about it.’ So I’m like, ‘How can I write about it when I’m in too much pain? I don’t want to do anything!’” he related

“But one day, it just all came out. I wrote what I was feeling,” he added. “That’s why I have been writing more love songs; R&B with a cool beat that you could still dance to. I’m in my feels right now!”

“2 Proud” is described as “an infectious slice of pop infused with gentle hip-hop.” Produced by longtime Black Eyed Peas music director Keith Harris, it delves into the uncertainties that beset long-distance relationships.

“You kind of want to know where things are going. Of course, there’s always that tension from wanting to be together. It’s about longing to be with someone, figuring out if you are on the same wavelength,” he said.

As a fan of K-pop music, Apl.deAp‘s reaching out to Sandara for “2 Proud” was a “no brainer.” The two first met in 2011 when his Black Eyed Peas bandmate Will.I.Am worked with her former group 2NE1. They have since kept in touch.

“I have been wanting to collaborate with her. We always run into each other in the Philippines. So, I thought it would be cool to collaborate. I sent the song to her and she liked it,” she said.

Of course, there’s that “Filipino connection,” too.

Born to a Filipino mother and an African-American father, grew up in Pampanga, before moving to the United States at the age of 11. Sandara, on the other hand, lived for 13 years in the Philippines, where she first pursued show biz. She then moved back to South Korea in 2007 and debuted as part of the iconic K-pop girl group 2NE1 two years later.

“2 Proud” cover art


‘A star’

“ and I have known each other for many years. We both have cherished memories of the Philippines, which bonds us together,” Sandara said in a statement.

“It just made sense because I’m a big K-pop fan and she has a history in the Philippines. The connection is there … Both of us grew up partly in the Philippines, so to have been able to connect was kind of magical. The song is a bit of a departure from what you would expect from a Black Eyed Peas member. But I hope you enjoy it,” he said.

Because Apl.deAp initiated the collaboration amid the pandemic, he and Sandara did most of the work—including the music video—through Zoom and online media. “

“Even though we had to do everything far off separately due to the pandemic, we finally made it and the song came out super great … I wish we could perform it live in front of the fans,” Sandara said in a statement. had nothing but good words for the South Korean star, who was just as hands-on with the creative process. “She was particular with how it sounded and how the music video looked … We couldn’t fly Sandara to Los Angeles for the music video, so she really worked with us to make everything look consistent—from the looks, to the setting, to the lighting,” he related.

“We had made it during the pandemic, but she was a star through everything,” added. INQ

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