Imma Be

The video released last week, the song is at the top of the charts, and the words to the song… well… I’ll get to that in a minute.

Imma Be is the title of… no, not the new, just the recently popular, kinda-new… Black Eyed Peas song. As I write this, Imma Be is the #1 downloaded song on iTunes (yes, bigger than the new We are the World) and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

If you’re a youth worker or a parent and you’re not familiar with the band Black Eyed Peas, you might want to spend a few minutes getting to know them, because our teens and tweens know their songs, are familiar with the videos and don’t hesitate to spend money downloading either. The Black Eyed Peas are a constant on the music charts. Or as teenagers today would put it, “These guys own!”

Allow me to be more specific. In 2009 the pop group Black Eyed Peas owned the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart from April 12th to October 10th. Their song Boom Boom Pow owned it for three months, and then their song I’ve Gotta Feeling stepped up and began its reign for about three months. Combined, these 2 songs owned the #1 spot merely 2 days short of 6 straight months. Only 13 songs made it to the top of the charts in 2009, and of those, Black Eyed Peas’ two songs dominated half the year, leaving only 6 months for the other 11 songs. As to not repeat ourselves, I encourage you to take a look at David’s amazing summary of the top songs of 2009 on our Youth Culture Window page at the end of last year. That article will give you a deeper look at the Black Eyed Peas two #1 songs and their reign in 2009.

Now, from the same album (The E.N.D.), their song Imma Be is taking its turn riding the top of the charts.

The question that many might have is, “What is the content of this music?” Good question, a question youth workers and parents should be asking.

Black Eyed Peas have never shyed away from being risqué with front-person Fergie always showing off, and I quote, her “lovely lady lumps.” They have explicit versions, and “clean” versions of many of their songs. But I encourage you to take a deeper look at that definition of “clean.” I think you’ll find these “clean” versions about as clean as a PG-13 movie. Black Eyed Peas are great at placing plenty of sexual imagery in their “clean” material. Those of you who are new to my blog, you might want to check out my blog titled, “Look Mom, No Cuss Words! It Must Be Clean!” … where I unveiled a little bit about what you’ll see if you watch some of this group’s videos. (A little while later I blogged about some home-made videos that began emerging from this popular song.)

So what can we expect from their song Imma Be?

A quick Google search for the lyrics will tell you most of what you need to know. Here’s an excerpt… edited by me:

Rich baby, quick, quick, Imma, Imma, Imma be
The sh*t baby, check me out, be
Imma be, Imma be on top, never stop
Be, be, Imma, Imma be, Imma be, be, be

Imma, Imma be, Imma be f*ckin’ her
Imma, Imma, Imma be, Imma be, be, be, Imma be…

Do you get the idea?

But maybe the radio versions and videos edit out those cuss words… right? Yes, but this song is currently the #1 downloaded song on iTunes. What version do you think your kids are downloading?

I find that many teenagers will argue, “I don’t listen to the words.” Are they right? Do you think teens and tweens know the words to this song? Check out these three girls on the video they posted on YouTube. They know the words… and they obviously know when they’re saying something risqué. (The little girl with the glasses gives it away every time with a giggle.)

What about the official video? Black Eyed Peas debuted it last Wednesday. You’ll notice that it omits many of the cuss words, but doesn’t leave out lines like this:

Imma be a brother, but my name ain’t Lehman
Imma be ya bank, I be loaning out semen…

Gotta love censorship. “No cusswords! It must be clean!”

Keep your eyes on this band. Our kids have their eyes and ears glued to them.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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13 Responses to Imma Be

  1. Mary O. says:

    My first thought: Jesus have mercy.
    Wow. Most of my kids are adults and solidly walking with Jesus but I do have a son in the 8th grade and music is a huge part of teenager’s life. Thank you for being a watchman for us as parents. It’s hard to keep up on all of this and I appreciate you getting the word out so we can have good discussion with our teens. Parents, don’t be afraid to talk about this frankly and honestly! Don’t give away your authority to the media – look at Jonathan’s video link with the girls singing the Black-Eyed Peas song to see what happens when we do.

  2. Julie says:

    This just shows you what happens when parents let go of being involved in students lives. You cannot trust others to have the same values and morals that you have. Parents need to continue to discuss and be involved and alongside their students in all aspects of their lives.

  3. Good comments Mary and Julie. I agree wholeheartedly. We, as parents, need to regularly dialogue (not over-react) with our kids about music and media.

    My wife Lori was just watching the video of the three young girls (above) and one of her comments was, “Those girls’ parents do NOT know that they posted that on YouTube.” Lori also pointed out how much the girls weren’t afraid to mouth the lyrics of even some of the foul lines (“loaning out semen” Do they even know what they’re mouthing?)

    Sigh.

  4. Amy says:

    I have to say I am fairly young but I work with youth of all ages. And I grew up with the original Black Eyed Peas. The ones with “Where is the love” and the ‘censored’ “Let’s get it started” (not even knowing they had the other version “Let’s get retarded”) But as they come out with these new songs I catch myself singing along without realizing what is being said in a lot of them. I can only imagine what the students are doing. They have and amazing ability to repeat lyrics not having a clue what those same lyrics are imprinting themselves in their brains and changing their moral compasses. I am encouraged by a blog like this so that we can know “what we are up against” but it saddens me that we have to be on our guard the way that we are. And that it is going after the most vulnerable.

  5. Amy… it is funny to see how Black Eyed Peas have emerged from that June 2004 album “Elephunk.” (that’s the one with “Let’s Get Retarded,” “Let’s Get It Started,” “Where is the Love?” etc.)

    Their next album “Monkey Business” (June 2005) really boosted them with hits like “Pump It,” “Don’t Phunk With My Heart” (one of the most creative and catchy songs they’ve done), “Don’t Lie,” and then of course… Fergies “My Humps.” It’s amazing how many of those songs became hits. All edgy songs.

    The interesting thing is, this is one of those groups (like Beyonce) that at a glance, appears to be clean, but if parents dig deeper into the lyrics, or actually watch the videos… it’s like, “Oh my!!!”

  6. Greg says:

    these girls have 306,187 views on this post alone…that doesn’t include the other videos posted. they are influencing so many others! i feel like i have such little impact on that (not to mention that they must be enjoying the ‘popularity’…what will they do next for more views?)

  7. Momof8 says:

    Be careful little eyes what you see…
    Be careful little ears what you hear…
    Be careful little mouths what you say…
    For the Father up above is looking down in love ….so be careful little ones how you live…The Lord can win the electronic battle …we must pray and be alert!

  8. kevin says:

    Thank you for this insight. It is very important that we as youth pastors know what our students are listening to and watching. But more importantly our parents should know as well. Thanks for all you do to inspire and inform the rest of us.. Psalm 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.

  9. Stran says:

    You think this is bad…listen to Ke$ha. She is a mix between Britney Spears and Lady GaGa…but her song lyrics are way, Way, WAY worse. The kids are all pickin up on her danceable tunes. But you are right Black Eyed Peas do rule the charts. The sad part is I’m sure most kids and nearly all parents have no idea what alot of the songs are saying. I send your Blogs on to many people who work with teens. Thanks…and God Bless

  10. Renata says:

    I just recently wrote about the dangerousness of listening to beats of songs where the words seep in but no one listens to the words and what they’re saying. On my journey and writing about current music, I didn’t realize how deep a lot of secular music is entrenched with the influence of satan; even to the point where some artists in hip hop and rock (JayZ Beyonce, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and black eyed peas were mentioned) actually have satanic occult symbolism in their videos.and when you play their songs backwards, you can clearly hear them give honor to the Devil. JayZ wrote a song about Lucifer. But our kids hear it on active rotation and buy theor songs frequently (especially beyonce and Black eyed peas). I’m surprised the church hasn’t said much about it. I decided I really can’t trust much of any secular music out there b/c it may be telling our kids to turn away from God and to the devil in every other word.maybe Jonathan you can look into these claims, I appreciate your blogs and you may be able to shed some light on a growing concern.

  11. Renata… thanks for the comment. I never have listened to JayZ backwards… nor have most kids. But most these songs and videos have bad content when you play them FORWARD. 🙂 So that’s good enough to concern me.

  12. Tonya Berry says:

    You know what? We need to have some CHRISTIAN bands to “own” like Black Eyed Peas does, and to put out songs that thump and bump more than theirs do. More than that, the church needs to support these artists, and their labels need to promote them. I mean wouldn’t it be nice to see these girls preferring to make a video (better clothed though) with a Toby Mac or Gospel Gangstas song? Too bad Christian artists have to feel too afraid to “own” in their music enough to surpass the quality of the world’s music. They’re too afraid of offending grandma and grandpa, nine times out of ten. And just FYI, my husband is a christian artist (who has opened for both Petra and Scorpions), so we know what kind of industry we’re up against.

  13. Bobby Ruane says:

    I just heard “Imma Be” at a restaurant and was repulsed by the obnoxious tone and sexual lyrics. A guy sitting next to me (a 40-something teacher) was going on about how wonderful the song was, but I hated the macho, selfish vibe of the song. If I had children, I’d be very concerned about the lyrics of the songs they’re listening to!