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Be Specific: Will.I.Am explains the continued ubiquity of the Black Eyed Peas (sort of)

Black Eyed PeasThat's actually his phone. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson).

With their pop-omnipresence continuously growing through a myriad of hit singles and corporate endorsements, The Black Eyed Peas are set to perform at the Verizon Center on Tuesday. Click Track asked frontman Will.I.Am about his group's approach and what the Black Eyed Peas won't do. (You might be surprised where he draws the line.)

The Black Eyed Peas are on television, you’re in tons of commercials, you’re doing interviews with Anderson Cooper on election night. What’s unique about the Black Eyed Peas' live show that your fans don’t get from these other kinds of experiences?

What’s unique? Um, the experience. The connection, the rallying of positive energy. The promoting and the celebration of enjoying this moment. It’s the good times. It’s the vibe, the glee, the uplifting spirit in the room... The celebrative thing where everyone gives out energy... There’s a lot of stimulation as far as bass, rhythm and light. Lasers... We have a futuristic set.

It’s the biggest production that we’ve ever had. Live is different than TV. TV is two dimensional. And a commercial, it’s a commercial. Live is live. We get to show the world why we’re able to do those things -- why we’re able to go on TV and why we’re able to do those commercials.

Is this attempt to be everywhere all at once a specific mission for the group?

Yeah. In 1998 I wrote this rap. It was kind of a self, y'know, resolution that I wanted to achieve with my career. And it was [rapping]:

Yo, my man, I got plan to do it all.
I got a plan that none of y'all ever
thought about 'cause underground cats don’t be thinking.
I’m going continental like Lincoln.

Since the beginning we’ve wanted to do everything. I want to do it all.

So what kind of things do you say no to?

We don’t do nothing that goes against our morals.

Like what?

I would never do anything for... Benson & Hedges or cigarettes. I would never do anything for... I mean, there’s a bunch of things I’d say no to. I would never do anything for child pornography. What are you crazy?

Right, of course.

I would never do anything for... come on dude. Morals! Things that would lead humanity to a [messed]-up area!

(F-bombs go "Boom Boom Pow," after the jump!)

Some people think corporate endorsements are amoral.

Those same cats that say y’know, corporations and brand sponsorships... it’s all [expletive]. Because as soon as they sell a whole lot of records they’re going to go play the Staples Center. Like, what the [expletive]? At what point do you say no? And a lot of these cats don’t realize that the product that they’re peddling... the music is not the product. They’re peddling plastic! The record company isn’t a company for records. They’re a company for the goods that they manufacture, distribute and produce. And that is plastic. It’s plastic! It’s plastic. CDs. Before CDs it was tapes. Before tapes it was vinyl. They were distributing that product. The industry was promoting that technology since the beginning, so that whole [expletive] mentality was skewed in the first place.

So you don’t listen to people that don’t understand the business. Those shouldn’t be the people who dictate on how you maneuver and make a career out of the things that you love to do. Every brand that we’ve got with... For example, somebody says, “Why’d you guys do an iPod commercial?” Because I’m using a [expletive] iPod! Why don’t you guys worry about something that actually means [expletive] and stop worrying about how we do business? These cats waste so much time on [expletive] that doesn’t mean anything. Meanwhile, the world is going to some crazy place -- and not because of musicians!

Do you think that those reactions come from the fact that you might be hyper-saturating the market with the image of this band?

There’s no such thing as hyper-saturating the market in the day and age of the Internet. If you could tell me what the market is in the first place, then I could answer that question. There’s no such thing as the [expletive] market. There’s no [expletive] record store. So what is the market? The market is visibility. The market is getting your music into as many ears as possible. That is the object. To affect ears. To bring joy. You don’t limit joy! That’s [expletive] backwards!

What it is, is that people have no questions so they ask the dumbest questions that every single interviewer asks every single artist in the past and the history. “Do you feel...?” No I don’t feel! I want to affect as many people as I can on the planet. If I can hit 20 billion by the time I leave, I did something.

Well, that sort of brings us full circle to the live concert experience being a chance to reach people...

There is no industry. There’s no editorial. That’s going to be dead. People don’t buy magazines the way they used to. Or newspapers. It’s all on the Internet. And once it’s on the Internet, it’s free. In ten years, where are journalists going to be? Don’t you want as many people to read you work as possible? To influence and inspire? Whether you do it on the backs of a brand, a hundred million dollar campaign...

Is “Boom Boom Pow” based for people who want to hear something that’s meaningful? Is “Boom Boom Pow” something that actually brings something good to somebody’s life? [phone connection breaks up for a moment.] There’s so much competition, it’s [expletive] tough. These people are strategic at keeping people dumb. You gotta fight fire with fire... Hold on, let me do this, so I can do this. Let me do “Boom Boom Pow” so I can send a kid to college. Let me do “I Gotta Feeling” so I can say something over here to inspire other musicians and entertainers to do the same thing, too! That is how you do that.

Gotcha. Well, I know you have more interviews to get to and I appreciate your time.

Alright, dude. It’s important for you to celebrate. You know, you’re a journalist. You’re important to the whole cycle of entertainment in this world. We should start celebrating people like Taylor Swift and how big she is. We need to start celebrating big [expletive]. Not, like, shoot it down once it gets big.

By Chris Richards  |  February 22, 2010; 2:04 PM ET
Categories:  Be specific  | Tags: Black Eyed Peas, Will.I.Am  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: In concert: Joshua Redman
Next: Week ahead: Black Eyed Peas at Verizon Center, cross-genre local show at Rock and Roll Hotel, another Johnny Cash album


Wow, I started getting flashbacks of the Matt Whitehurst interview reading all those [expletive]s.

Posted by: universaltravaler | February 22, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

If the internet is the future, why does he have a record label deal and why is he talking to the Washington Post? Just asking...I'm assuming some of this will be in the paper.

Posted by: EricS2 | February 22, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I believe that was Will.I.Am laying the beat down. Eh, the down.

Posted by: ivb1 | February 22, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

hmmm, it didn't display my witty word between 'the' and 'down'. oh well.

Posted by: ivb1 | February 22, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

These comments are almost more confusing than this interview!

Posted by: ChrisRichards | February 22, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

two words: cray cray.

Posted by: Ally Schweitzer | February 22, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

yowza- bracketology...

see, what I wanna know about BEP is this:

-Will is a little sensitive, but at least he can enjoy being 'The Architect'; Fergie is clearly the big winner (from dead career to top o charts with no issues of 'sellout as a pop singer)

...what's up with Ap and Taboo (aka 'the other two)?

do they get ANY say in the BEP machine, seeing as they were there 2 or 3 albums prior to Fergie?

is it a satisfying journey or do they feel like Faust's weed carriers?

most importantly, can anybody hear them scream?

might just be me, but i watch BEP live performances and can't tear my eyes away from the 'hollow souls of expendable men' routine going on next to the Fergie & 'Bob Dylan' show.

Posted by: audiohysteria | February 22, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

"With their pop-omnipresence continuously growing through a myriad of hit singles and corporate endorsements"

That's an absolute fail on use of "myriad." Technically, it would be "...through myriad hit singles..." but that doesn't really make sense either. Would recommend simply replacing myriad with "array", which seems closer to your attention.

I correct, because I care, really.

Posted by: Section506 | February 22, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Secton506 = usage correction fail.

Particularly relevant: "Recent criticism of the use of myriad as a noun, both in the plural form myriads and in the phrase a myriad of, seems to reflect a mistaken belief that the word was originally and is still properly only an adjective. As the entries here show, however, the noun is in fact the older form, dating to the 16th century. The noun myriad has appeared in the works of such writers as Milton (plural myriads) and Thoreau (a myriad of), and it continues to occur frequently in reputable English. There is no reason to avoid it."

Also, "which seems closer to your attention"? Physician, heal thyself.

Posted by: Lindemann777 | February 22, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

(ha ha, and I can't type "Section506," apparently)

Posted by: Lindemann777 | February 22, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Hahaha, I retract. I learned something today.

From the OED:
"a1671 R. KNEVET Elegie 3 in Shorter Poems (1966) 270 Shee might have in terrestriall blisse, Exceeded a whole Myriade of yeares. "

Can I still be unhappy with the omnipresence of the Black Eyed Peas?

Posted by: Section506 | February 22, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Definitely. Aren't we all?

Posted by: Lindemann777 | February 23, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

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