will.i.luv.u: In Defence of will.i.am

The Black Eyed Peas are not a band I have much time for; never have, and it’s unlikely that I ever will.

Fergie is someone I wouldn’t be particularly star-struck by, apl.de.ap barely counts as a person due to that ridiculous name, and then there’s Taboo, who as far as anyone can tell is a moany distant relative they reluctantly allowed to join the group despite his inability to contribute anything meaningful.

There’s a fourth member of the band. He has stupid glasses, stupid auto-tuned vocals, and also has a stupid alias. Despite this, and against my better judgement, I have a strange respect for him. He is William James Adam. You might know him as will.i.am.

He’s the lead member of this group, one which seems to be a simple rap group churning out singles on topics such as shutting up and stating the quality of impending nighttime. However, they have been together in some form since 1987. William and apl.de.ap began rapping together when in eighth grade, stuck with it, and actually ended up somewhere. Fair play William.

In the meantime, when William launched his own fashion line in 2005, it might have been seen as some company trying to cash in on the recent success of the musician. But no, he started this endeavour in 2001, before the band really took off, while studying at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in his hometown of Los Angeles. Despite putting the name of his band on everyone’s lips in 2003 by getting Fergie to tell everyone to Shut Up, he still stuck with it and produced a range of what I don’t doubt for a second are lovely clothes. Fair play.

But sure he’s just doing it for the money, right? Probably yes, but he did so under his own steam. This attribute of entrepreneurial drive has resulted in me having a surprising amount of respect for William.

Even Scream and Shout, the musical love child of himself and Britney Spears and a perfect example how a song with essentially no musical or lyrical substance can top the charts, does not deter me from admiring him. The song is simply the result of a man who knows how to make money by writing simple songs. He is making himself a manufactured artist. He knows exactly how to do, so why get someone else to do? Get the auto-tune out, ring Britney, and sing about going to a club and making loud noises. Sorted. Fair play William.

But wait, he also works for Intel? As in the computer company? His position as the corporation’s Director of Creative Innovation may be something of a joke, seeing as one Lady Gaga holds a similar position in Polaroid, but it seems to be something he’s genuinely interested in. In a different vein of electronics he’s designing a snap-on camera for the iPhone, the i.am+, which claims to improve image qualify involving technology that a lot of people are skeptical about. It’s his own product, not one he is simply endorsing. He really doesn’t need to make any more money, especially when it involves effort, so he must simply enjoy it. Fair play.

And he has his own charity and gives money to others. A bonus, and makes him a nice guy.

Just fair play William. Fair play.

Nicky Ryan

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