BY RYAN PEARSON, ASSOCIATED PRESS
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- Will.i.am wants to be known as a maker – not just of music, but things, from cars to headphones.
The Black Eyed Peas frontman is computer chip-maker Intel's "director of creative innovation." He's also partnered with Coca-Cola to create a new brand of products from recycled bottles and cans, including headphones and clothes.
Not that the seven-time Grammy winner – who produces, writes, sings and raps – has lost his ear for hits. Three songs from his new album, "(hash)willpower" – featuring Justin Bieber, Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus – are now in the Billboard Hot 100. It's his fourth solo album but the first in six years and the first since the Peas became global megastars with hits like "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta Feeling." As a solo artist, he has yet to match the Peas' success in album sales; his latest debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart this week with 29,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
But will.i.am is looking well beyond pop charts to measure future success. The 38-year-old Los Angeles native sat down with The Associated Press in a recording studio for a conversation that touched on topics ranging from the Notorious B.I.G. to his late grandmother.
AP: In one song on the new album, you quote a Notorious B.I.G. line about being on the cover of Fortune magazine. But you actually did it recently. Does that make you reflect on how far hip-hop has come?
will.i.am: The line is, `Willy be flossing/Geeking on the cover of Fortune/Five double-oh sending flows to Martians.' The fact that I sent a song to Mars is like `Whoaaaa!' And then being on the cover of Fortune magazine and Biggie Smalls saying that in a rhyme never having been on the cover of Fortune was just like `Whoa!' Just `whoa' moments. ... My music career had nothing to do with that. The cover of Fortune came from recent disciplines and sacrifices and dreams I've been having in the other part of my career. That's philanthropy, being an entrepreneur and thinking outside the box.
AP: Can you envision yourself doing that and not making music anymore?
will.i.am: I'll still make music. You've still got to promote the (stuff) you make. So I'll use my music to bring awareness to the things I make. ... It's the original use of music. It's just that the people making music never participated in the things that were sold around it. For example, before there was a music industry, people played music in speakeasies and juke joints. ... Music still sells alcohol in bars. ... And music sold radios and turntables and CD players. But the musicians never participated in that business. And if they dared sell anything outside of that circle of products, they were sellouts. ... Now, Dr. Dre has Beats. And his music and everything it stood for sells other products: headphones. ... So hopefully musicians get hip to the fact that we should be selling the things that we want to make. Making us makers. And our music sells the stuff that we bring to market.
AP: The Black Eyed Peas announced their hiatus two years ago. When did you start working on the album?
will.i.am: I started working on `(hash)willpower' for about two, two-and-a-half years. And when you're in a group like The Black Eyed Peas and you're successful, a lot of times the company that you're with wants you to do just that. And they don't see that you can be successful outside of that. So I had to do `(hash)willpower' all by myself – fund it, pay for it. ... There's a lot at stake. You don't succeed, you mess up your group. ... Very few people succeed outside their group when their group is successful. So it's been a hurdle.
AP: You dedicated the album to your late grandmother Sarah Ann Cain (who died last Thanksgiving). How did she influence you?
will.i.am: We're from the projects – East L.A. On welfare the majority of our lives. A lot of my friends are dead and in prison. Just like any urban person that comes from areas like I'm from. But my grandma was supergrandma. Ain't nobody mess with our family in my neighborhood because everybody loved my grandma. She was the one that prayed for everybody. ... We were one of the first families in the projects. And I moved them out. Music allowed me, helped me move my family out of the projects. ... If there was anybody who sculpted me, who molded me – my mind, my perspective, my heart: my grandma. ... She's not here anymore. But she's still here.
The above was provided by the AP. What follows is by Kia Makarechi of The Huffington Post.
One Of The Singer's Problems Won't Go Away
will.i.am has been accused of stealing Arty and Mat Zo's song "Rebound" for use on his album. While will.i.am has acknowledged that he used the sample in "Let's Go," the singer says he's in the clear. Anjunabeats, the electronic dance music label that released "Rebound," begs to differ. In a statement sent Thursday, the label blasted will.i.am's attempt at reconciliation and noted that putting an artist in liner notes doesn't constitute clearing a sample:
"Anjunabeats is the record label behind Arty and Mat Zo and owns the master recording rights to their collaboration "Rebound." Mat Zo and Arty have been important members of the Anjunabeats family for a number of years and "Rebound" was one of the label's most popular releases in 2011.
As has been widely reported, a large section of "Rebound" was sampled on Will.i.am's track "Let's Go featuring Chris Brown" and this took place without the permission of Anjunabeats or Arty & Mat Zo.
Although Arty (but not Mat Zo) was credited in the sleeve notes, this is not the same as obtaining permission. To present someone else's work as your own, you need to seek permission, agree terms and file paperwork, which has not happened in this case.
We've remained silent on this issue until now but as a record label it is our obligation to protect our artists' interests and we felt it was necessary to respond to some of the inaccuracies that have been reported following Will.i.am's recent comments to Associated Press."
RELATED: Here's a look at 10 prominent artists who've battled accusations of musical fraud.
After the release of "Roar," the lead single off of Katy Perry's 2013 album "Prism," listeners noticed major similarities between the track and the Sara Bareilles song "Brave." Bareilles commented on the comparisons by simply tweeting "All love, everybody. All love."
Will.i.am isn't experiencing his first copyright-related lawsuit, as 24-year-old singer Tulisa sued the Black Eyed Peas frontman for allegedly stealing some of her lyrics in the Britney Spears collaboration "Scream and Shout." Will had admitted to using her song, recorded as "I Don't Give A F--k," having received it from the original producer, who reportedly didn't want it on Tulisa's album. But that hasn't stopped Tulisa from seeking royalties from the song's profits.
Songwriter Earl Shuman accused Alicia Keys of repurposing his 1962 track "Hey There Lonely Girl," a hit for Eddie Holman, on her 2012 single "Girl On Fire." She is currently facing a legal battle after being sued for copyright infringement.
Popular Puerto Rican salsa singer Jerry Rivera claimed Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" stole the horn progression from his song "Amores Como el Nuestro," prompting the singer not to show up at Spain's equivalent of the Grammys. Shortly thereafter, Shakira was accused of stealing part of the refrain from the popular Luis Dias song "Carnaval (Baila en la Calle)." Neither of these artists pressed charges. An earlier version of this slide incorrectly identified Rivera as Spanish, rather than Puerto Rican.
Atlanta rapper Tyronne Simmons, better known as Caliber, sued 50 Cent, a producer and several music executives for copyright infringement for allegedly stealing the instrumental track for the 2007 song "I Get Money." Caliber claimed he had purchased exclusive rights to the material and proceeded to bring a suit against 50 Cent. It was eventually dropped, as the three-year statute of limitations for copyright infringement eventually passed.
The songwriters for The Rubinoos sued Avril Lavigne and her record label in May 2007, claiming her song "Girlfriend" infringed on their 1979 hit "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend." The lawsuit was settled in early 2008, with Lavigne's music reps saying the songs' similarities were purely coincidental.
Big Seven Music Corp. sued The Beatles in 1973, accusing the band of ripping the beat and lyrics of "Come Together" from Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me." The parties settled out of court, but John Lennon vowed to record three additional Big Seven songs as retribution. He did so, and Big Music retaliated by issuing unreleased tapes of Lennon's music. Lennon countersued and was awarded almost $85,000.
The men of Coldplay came under fire for the band's 2008 hit, "Vida La Vida." Guitarist Joe Satriani accused the band of plagiarizing his 2004 song "If I Could Fly." Satriani went so far as to sue the band.
Chuck Berry strikes again. The R&B singer accused the Beach Boys classic "Surfin' U.S.A." of being a note-for-note rip of his "Sweet Little Sixteen." After a lawsuit, Berry received a writing credit and royalties from the song.
Radiohead's smash single "Creep" was accused of plagiarizing The Hollies' 1973 song "The Air That I Breathe." The Hollies won their lawsuit, which said that "Creep" stole a chord progression and melody from their song. As a result, Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood are now listed as co-songwriters on the Radiohead song.
Public Enemy accused Madonna's controversial 1990 song "Justify My Love" of sampling the instrumentals from "Security of the First World." Madonna claimed she'd never heard the song, and Public Enemy never brought a lawsuit anyway, with many speculating it was because they'd sampled music as well. Madonna's "Justify" troubles didn't end there, as poet Ingrid Chavez later sued Lenny Kravitz, the song's producer and co-writer, for stealing the lyrics from one of her poems. The lawsuit was settled out of court, and Chavez received a belated writing credit on the track.
Led Zeppelin has fought several copyright lawsuits unsuccessfully, one of which came in conjunction with 1969's "Whole Lotta Love." In 1985, Willie Dixon claimed the song was fashioned out of his 1962 track "You Need Love." The suit was settled out of court, and "Whole Lotta Love" now features a songwriting credit for Dixon.