Will.I.Am - A Peas Offering
Author: Sasha Perera
Thursday, 20 September 2007
With his new album Songs About Girls, frontman for the Black Eyed Peas, Will.I.Am, follows in the successful footsteps of group member Fergie, and ahead of projects from other members Taboo and Apl.De.Ap. As a producer Will has worked on production for a number of other artists aside from the Black Eyed Peas and Fergie, such as Justin Timberlake, Common, Macy Gray, Nas, Kelis, Mary J. Blige and Talib Kweli, but with his own new album he has chosen to deliver material with a minimum of outside involvement.
Songs About Girls is an out-and-out Will.I.Am album, different from producer albums from the likes of Timbaland and Dr. Dre which are heavy on guest involvement. Indeed Snoop Dogg is the only guest involved on this new album. Instead, Will explores his own love of music, mixing up the flavors with nods to dance, electro, hip hop, soul and reggaeton. At times it strays back into B.E.P. crossover territory (as in the first single I Got It From My Mama), but elsewhere Will proves that at the core of his music is a real reverence and respect for musicality and left-of-centre urban rhythms (special mention goes out to the instrumental cut Impatient which sounds like an updated Quincy Jones-like classic).
Will.I.Am has worked on non-Peas projects before, but this is something different. “This time around this is a real solo album for me: I executive-produced it in the same way I would a new Black Eyed Peas album - with the same care and everything. The other projects I did in about a week, whereas this album took about a year.”
Will.I.Am is a true ideas man, and as such the success of the Black Eyed Peas can rest heavily on his ability to take risks and explore new ideas. With a record label, a fashion label, and his production work for a range of artists, Will is always looking into new ways to cut through and connect to global audiences. With his own solo album, Will wanted to break new ground with a number of other ideas, as he explains: “I told them what I wanted to do, I told them my whole theory about how I felt about the music industry: people are still making music like they were when vinyl and cassettes were out - they do an album, they do a photo-shoot, they do a video, and it goes to video shows and radio, and it ends up on the Internet. I told [Interscope Records] we needed to do it the way it needs to be done - let’s make this album for the Internet. I wanted to make an album with all these stories that link, and then l wanted them to let me do all the videos at once, so that once you link the videos it’s like a little mini-movie. Then I wanted to be able to put this movie on a player – on the website – so just in case people want more than just the CD, they could come to blackeyedpeas.com or will-i-am.com and download this player.”
With all this work and focus on his own efforts, surely Will must’ve slowed down his outside production work- Apparently not. “I can do 10 things at once, that’s not a problem,” he says. “I could do something for another artist and still do my project, because the way I produce is different from a lot of other producers. I don’t do just beats and then someone just collects beats from me - I like to work with the artists.”
Of his upcoming production work with artists such as Whitney, Mariah, Chris Brown and Nicole Sherzinger (Pussycat Dolls), it’s Will’s work on the upcoming Michael Jackson album that is the most intriguing. “Michael Jackson… that’s like the pinnacle for me,” he says. “Working with Michael Jackson is bigger than getting a Grammy award; it’s bigger than getting an ARIA award! It’s working with Michael Jackson! Even if it never comes out, I can say I worked with Michael Jackson – that’s like super-duper dope.”
So what’s next for Will.I.Am- “In November 2008 we’ll do another Black Eyed Peas record, and in 2009 we’ll tour that record, and in 2010 I’ll be 35… so I just wanted to take advantage of this time, right now, and make it work for me as a solo artist.”
WHAT: Songs About Girls out through Interscope
WHEN: Out Tuesday 25 September