Taboo is a founding member of the Grammy Award–winning group The Black Eyed Peas. In “Fallin’ Up: My Story” (Touchstone Paperback/ Simon & Schuster, $14), he teams up with Steve Dennis to share the inspiring story of his rise from the mean streets of East L.A. to the heights of international fame.
A Mexican-American with Shoshone blood on his mother’s side, the now internationally acclaimed artist defied expectations early on — first by rejecting the limitations placed on him by society, then by staying true to his dream of becoming a star.
Born in East L.A. in an area notorious for street gangs and poverty, Taboo was haunted by that environment, which seemed certain to shape his destiny. Yet, steered by his dreams to be a performer and assisted by fate, the young Taboo was thrown a rope when he discovered the world of hip-hop, where talent and love of the music itself transcended all. Supported by his one true champion, his grandmother, Aurora, Taboo chased his dreams with a relentless tenacity. He refused to surrender, regardless of what life threw at him — including becoming a father at 18.
“If you met me in the street and you knew nothing about the Black Eyed Peas and asked my name and where I was born, the reply could mislead you,” writes Taboo. “I’d give you my birth name: Jaime Luis Gomez. I’d tell you where I first grew up: a Mexican-American community in East L.A. That would probably surprise you, because you might, as many do, mistake me for an Asian. If I told you the projects I grew up in and you knew the Eastside, I’d catch that look in your eye and I’d say, yeah, that’s right — the neighborhood nicknamed after a street gang called Dog Town. These are the stamps of my identity, about as informative as markings in a passport. They tell you nothing about who I am or what my story is, and what it further explains to me, looking back, is why I never felt I belonged from day one. Don’t get me wrong: no one is prouder than I am of my Mexican-American roots, but these are merely my roots and national identity. This information doesn’t completely define me.”
But even after the Black Eyed Peas beat seemingly insurmountable odds and achieved stardom, it wasn’t all Grammys and platinum albums. Taboo delivers a searingly honest account of his collision with fame’s demons, including his almost career-ending struggle with drug addiction and alcoholism. He takes us deep into a world few of us can even imagine: a show-business heaven that became a self-made hell. But inspired by the love of his family and tapping anew into the wellspring of self-belief that had sustained him in the past, Taboo learns to keep his demons at bay, his addictions in check.
Full of intimate glances into the highest reaches of the music industry — including a visit to Sting’s castle, hanging out with Bono and U2, and, at 41,000 feet, the high-flyingest karaoke ever — “Fallin’ Up” takes readers on a revealing, personal journey through stardom — and one man’s triumph over adversity times two.