Sunday, 21 January 2007

Will i Am RWD


william, originally uploaded by chantelle.

A version of this article is in the current issue of RWD Magazine
Words: Chantelle Fiddy

William James Adams Jr, better known as will.i.am, as one third of the Black Eyed Peas and a certified premiership producer, has worked with artists ranging from Sergio Mendes and Sting to Justin Timberlake, Kelis and Busta Rhymes. But with musical surgery to undergo with Michael Jackson, will the cool fa├žade last?

Where are you right now?
I’m in Brazil, It’s one more show here then off to Argentina. I’m just going online in my hotel.

Everyone has to catch up on emails and myspace right?
Yeah I got a lot of catching up to do. I check the comments on the myspace and stuff. I look on youtube, after every concert we go on there to see who posts up phone clips first.

Do you give a prize?
No, they get arrested hahaha.

The main talking point right now has gotta be you working with Michael Jackson right?
Yeah I'm going back to him in December. He called me up and I thought someone was joking around. 'Hello it's Michael' and I was like 'Yeah right, stop playing?' Then he said 'I want to congratulate you on all your success, you're doing a powerful thing for the World with your music and staying true to what you believe in, I've been following you for a long time... do you mind if I call you in a couple of days at 4pm?’ Then he started ringing me everyday at 4pm. We were on tour with The Pussycat Dolls at the time so I started working on music for him on the bus.

Did you approach working with Michael Jackson differently compared to other artists?
Well It was more like how would I like Michael to sound now, what would I want him to do? When I finally sat down with him I was nervous. I couldn't be the way I would be like when I'm with Justin or NAS. I've idolised Michael my whole life. I had to be honest with him. I told him it was hard and he asked why? I explained I didn't grow up listening to Justin's music so it's easy to work with him, we're equals and when you're in the studio with someone you have to be equal, never above or below. When I worked with NAS I wasn't like 'Ok, here's the greatest lyricist', you have to put yourself on the same plain and make sure you compliment or better the stuff you love. I had to really get over it with Michael.

You do a great impression of him…
I can do James Brown too hahaha.

How was it on a personal level? Did you like him?
On a personal level it was cool, I spent the whole first day asking him questions like 'what was it like when you first did the moonwalk, how did it feel?’ It turned into a freakin’ interview; everything we're doing today is like branches from his tree. The seed came from Michael Jackson and James Brown. Michael told me for him, his influence was James Brown all the way. I was like 'damn, I worked with James Brown!' 'He said ‘You worked with James Brown, I always wanted to work with James Brown...' 'ok let's do it...' so those were the kind of things that gave me confidence to move forward.

Is there a lot of pressure on you now to deliver a big album?
We talked about what we wanted to accomplish, how you gonna compete with Thriller? I said ‘Michael, when you wake up in the morning how do you compete with yourself? I know how to compete with the market place but when you influence the market place in every way possible, from fan clubs to sponsorships to videos…’ 'Oh God bless you', 'No seriously, i'm not trying to compliment you Michael, I need to know this for when we get in the studio cause the music has to represent that…’ 'Oh I see what you're talking about.' Me and him had this deep conversation and started talking about the experience today; ringtones, the computer, itunes, movies, youtube, myspace...

Does he know about all that stuff?
Yes but this arena still needs to be defined, people are using it but they haven't defined what to do with this platform yet, we're not lifting weights, it isn't even a weight lifting game no more, so lets define what it is. We need to think about how music’s going to be experienced. Think about all the great songs that come out every week and their life span is like a week. You probably aren't playing stuff from eight weeks ago but people are still playing Billy Jean and Beat It.

Thing have changed a lot since you were with Eazy-E on Ruthless Records, when was the last time you saw him before he passed away?
It was about two weeks, early March, I spoke to Eazy when he was in hospital and he was like ‘see you soon’. For the last three years him and (his manager) Jerry Heller would take me to this place called Monty's for my birthday party. March 15th we went to Monty's and Jerry said to me ‘it’s not looking good’. Him and Jerry were still having their differences too. It was a shock, he’d been coughing a lot and had only gone to hospital for bronchitus.

Do you ever worry about what people will think of your music, like when you first came out with 'Where Is The Love', the hip hop community as a whole weren't that complimentary?
You can't be like 'I’m going to jump off this building' cause that's suicide. But if you say 'I'm gonna jump off this building and make sure the rope's tied and I'm gonna bounce back up', to someone who doesn't know about bungee jumping, they're gonna think that persons crazy, but when that person jumps and springs back up, then trends happen, people catch onto it. With Black Eyes Peas (BEP) everything we've done is thought out and planned, some BEP fans were like 'that's suicide, you're putting a white girl in your group, that's not hip hop.' What are you talking about, what is hip hop to you? People that make those comments I don't think their knowledge of hip hop goes that far.

So, have you ever made a record, gone back to it and wished you'd done something differently?
Yeah! A song called Request Line we did with Macy Gray. It was a cool record but not my favourite. I don't like the song we did with Wyclef 'Rap Song' and i don't like 'Hips Don't Lie' that much.

When was the last time you felt proud of yourself?
When I was on stage. It's been a long journey to get here, Eazy passing away, being homeless... but we stuck to our dreams and the community who gave us a hard time for what we did, are coming to you to produce their records. Journalists tried to feed us to the wolves, wrote us off, and those artists, those journalists are now applauding us. I'm proud of sticking to my guns.

1 comment:

Chloe said...

Chantelle!

I'm glad you're back

Reeespeck

C