Will.i.am covers Newsweek: “I didn’t have to set African-Americans back to move forward”

Will.i.am brings his ‘boom boom pow’ to the cover of Newsweek along with discussion on a range of subjects including modern celebrity culture, his “eclectic take on Hip Hop,” keeping the music fresh and why he doesn’t want any more of his work with Michael Jackson to come out.

He also speaks on his diverse social network, today’s technological age and his bond with fellow Black Eyed Peas member Fergie.


will.i.am on his work with Michael Jackson:

You’ve also produced for a lot of icons. How do you tell someone like Bono he’s out of tune?
I panic before I go in the studio, like “Oh, God, I’m about to be chillin’ with M.J. for a week in Ireland.” So you geek out on your way there, but as soon as you get there you have to be responsible. You also have to humble yourself and not get all extra cocky, like “Yeah, you want my expertise ’n’ s–t?” Well, that s–t’s wack. You can’t ego out.

The songs you worked on with Michael aren’t on the CD that just came out. Given the chance, would you have released them now?
The only thing that came out after three years of working together was the “Thriller 25” remixes. All the other songs we recorded haven’t come out, and I don’t think they should. It isn’t right to put that music out without his final say or blessing. He was all about getting it right.

…on his new album and the technological age

Your new CD is The Beginning, while your last one was The End. Isn’t that backward?
For every ending there is a new beginning.

What ended?
The whole way the recording industry works. Now we’re in a whole new technological age.

But the album’s loaded with call-backs to the 1980s, from 2 Live Crew lyrics to Dirty Dancing riffs.
Well, the 1980s was the beginning of everything we have now—computers, high-def TV, the Internet, etc. But it also shows you that we’re still in our infancy. No matter how advanced you think we are, it’s really just the beginning.

….on his style of music:

When you started out, your eclectic take on hip-hop surprised people.
I was born and raised in the ghetto, on welfare, two minutes from homeless. I wanted to change that. I did that by saying I don’t wanna dress like a gangsta. Instead, I wanna look like MC Hammer. I wanna be like De La Soul. I wanna sound like Tribe Called Quest. I didn’t wanna be like homeboy who just went to jail.

You were criticized though for not making a harder sound.
Crime and violence are the easiest emotions to reenact. But I never played that, and I feel proud that I didn’t. I didn’t have to set African-Americans and urban communities back to move forward.

It’s ironic because recently you were criticized for wearing black face paint during your VMA performance.
Here’s Twitter, this amazing forum, and some people are so disconnected they’re tweeting about black face paint, on a black man! “He set black people back a thousand years.” I’m like, “Why don’t you tweet about your local congressman who does nothing about putting money into education and see how far that sets African-Americans and Latinos back, bonehead!”

Scans of the full interview below courtesy of Yk2:

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