will.i.am On His Love Of Music, ‘#Willpower’ & Hanging Up On the King Of Pop

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will.i.am in studio @ 92.3 NOW. Photo: Joe Cingrana, 92.3 NOW

will.i.am in studio @ 92.3 NOW. Photo: Joe Cingrana, 92.3 NOW

Photo: Joe Cingrana Joe Cingrana
Managing Editor | 923NOW.com
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The Black Eyed Peas may have taken an ‘indefinite hiatus’ but that doesn’t mean the group’s fashionable front man has any plans for slowing down.

In a recent visit to 92.3 NOW/New York, will.i.am sat down with morning man Ty Bentli to discuss how he’s been keeping busy during the break.

“I just love music,” says will. “Whether it’s making music for other people or writing a song for this album I’m doing, ‘#willpower.’”

The first single off of the album, “This Love” featuring Eva Simons, has already racked up close to 17 million views on Youtube and is getting huge across the pond in the U.K. – possibly with the help of will’s involvement on The Voice.

“The U.K. just jumps on things quick. [The Black Eyed Peas'] ‘Where Is the Love’ took off first in the U.K., LMFAO‘s career first took off in the U.K. – there’s a different breed of music lovers there.” Will is definitely part of that special breed. He remembers being turned on to his “This Love” collaboration partner, Eva Simons, while in France with David Guetta.

Will’s upcoming album #willpower has been in the making for some time, since before the Peas’ break and may have taken on a few different shapes since it’s inception. About a year ago, will was talking about an album called Black Einstein and now we’re about to get #willpower – what gives?

“That album is a separate album, yeah that record’s done.” says will. “‘Black Einstein’ is like a hip hop/jazz album where it’s reminiscent to A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Brand Nubians, Black Sheep.”

will was also heavily involved in the production of Michael Jackson‘s 25th Anniversary re-issue of “Thriller.” will recalled the story for us when he got the big call from the King Of Pop, himself.

“He called me on the phone,” remembers will. “I didn’t think it was him. I thought somebody was playing around. I was on the tour bus sleeping, and Taboo wakes me up and says ‘it’s Michael Jackson on the phone.’ I’m like yeah stop playing. Hello…”

will, in his best MJ voice: “It’s Michael… “

will: “Can you stop messing around dude?”

will as MJ: “Really it’s me. Nobody ever believes it’s me when I call.”

“I’m like ‘Ok, whatever, I’m over it’ and I hung up because I thought someone was joking with me!”

Michael called back, and after will tested him, he finally believed it was the real Michael on the line. After the initial, awkward exchange and working on the re-issue, the two musical icons became friends for four years.

Of course, it’s not all about the life in studio and on stage for will. He brings the same passion and drive found in his music to all aspects of his life.

“There’s no free time, but I do a lot in philanthropy,” will admits. “I have my scholarship, where I send kids to college debt free. Then I have my ‘I Am Home’ program where I bail out families from losing their homes because there’s no jobs in America.”

#willpower is the upcoming fourth studio album by will.i.am and is scheduled to be released in September 2012.

–Joe Cingrana, CBS Local/92.3 NOW

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