The Black Eyed Peas rapper  Taboo is a force of nature and brings to the room a certain kind of raw energy. He will openly admire your shoes, will rave about the intricate golden iPhone cover in the midst of a television interview and give a loud shout to his mate building the stage at the Amber Lounge club.
“The last event did not have a stage. I had to stand on the couch to perform. I don’t mind … I actually like it,” said Taboo with an infectious grin prior to his gig in Abu Dhabi’s Amber Lounge on Friday .
Fresh off the boat from his rocking performance at Delhi’s Amber Lounge during the Indian Grand Prix, it was clear that he came off much better than Tom Cruise.Born as Jaime Luis Gómez, the American rapper of The Black Eyed Peas dubs himself as the showman who is out to give his fans the ultimate Taboo experience. He may not be the biggest F1 race junkie but he claims performing live and hitting the DJ decks is his biggest adrenaline sport.
“That is my biggest asset. When I was touring with Peas, I was able to make the crowd feel the energy. When I said: ‘put your hands up or make some noise’, they just did it. There is that adrenaline that I get from being able to control thousand and millions of people,” he said.
Last year, the massively popular Peas announced they were taking an indefinite break and were each going solo. Surprisingly, it was an amicable break-up with immense amount of goodwill. Taboo is quick to praise Fergie’s latest album , laud Will.i.am’s Obama campaign and talk up apl.de.ap’s solo efforts.
“We are very supportive of each other. We all have dreams outside the Peas,” he said.
They may have been a band who courted global fame, but he claims they are strong four individuals with separate aspirations. Enter the Taboo experience, which has strong Latin and Mexican flavour.
“I want to really brand myself as an individual … The Peas is the mothership you always go to. But when you able to bring something new to the table, it makes you stand out as an artist. I am not chasing the same things as Fergie or Will.i.am. But I am Latino, so there will be Spanish lyrics and Mexican … It’s different from what has come out of the camp.”
Grounded in his opinions, Taboo was not always an advertisement for sobriety. In 2007, the ‘Boom Boom Pow’ hitmaker was arrested for DUI and slapped with four charges: driving under the influence, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, possession of marijuana while driving and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription.
But he said he has cleaned up good and has clearly put his murky past behind him. Today, the father of three would make a good role model.
Ask him about his experience in Delhi and he claims that it was a great leveller that gave him a sense of reality.
“I loved it. Everybody was very respectful … But there is poverty, smoke, traffic. When I see children in New Delhi, babies walking around in no diapers and their mother is in a corner putting up bricks, it gives you a sense of being grounded,” he said.
Without being patronising, he points out that his kids have never known the feeling of not going to good schools or not having anything to eat. Today, the reformed rapper is all about experiencing new things in life. His morning errand at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend: conquering fear.
“I have just come from one of the craziest rides in this planet at the Ferrari World. I am so high after that. When I saw the ride I thought I am going to be scared in this one. But then again, I was like let’s just do it.”
*Taboo will perform again on Sunday night at the bespoke Amber Lounge at the Yas Links Golf Club on Yas Island. Entry per person starts at Dh3,400, a table of eight is from Dh27,400; both include unlimited bubbly and drinks. For bookings go to amber-lounge.com.