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January 1, 2011 / GG54

Black Eyed Peas: Inspired by Dvorak or stolen from Dvorak?

You know what interview question I hate? “Where did you get the inspiration for ___?”. The answer is usually boring, pretentious or both. Musicians usually say the song is about falling in love, a life-changing dream or pretty flowers. Yeah right. But in the case of My Humps by the Black Eyed Peas, the inspiration was surely Czech composer Antonin Dvorak. Take a listen.

New World Eyed Peas

Call it homage or thievery, but surely there is a intellectual property lawsuit here! They each use an identical main theme, and my sources tell me that Dvorak came up with it first.

Here are some more comparisons:

  • Dvorak samples themes inspired by African-American spirituals. Black Eyed Peas sample “I Need a Freak” by Sexual Harassment.
  • Dvorak’s New World Symphony was premiered at the freshly built Carnegie Hall. The video for My Humps premiered on MTV’s TRL (whose studios are located ten minutes from Carnegie Hall).
  • The critics on the New World: “the greatest symphonic work ever composed in this country.” (Henry T. Finck, New York Evening Post). The critics on My Humps: “One of the most embarrassing rap performances of the new millennium.” (John Bush, AllMusic.com).

So there you have it. Two American classics, each with their own unique influences.

Dvorak Symphony No. 9 ‘From the New World’ can be heard on Sound Ideas on January 14.

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