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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,

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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