Check out brand new photoshoot of will.i.am which was taken earlier this year by Ian Derry. Yesterday it was published on DailyMail website together with post about Will’s life, you can read it below new awesome photos.
Update: The story was published in latest issue of Mail on Sunday – Live magazine. We will publish scans soon, for now you can check cover in HQ:
‘Play the Super Bowl? Did it! Play the World Cup? Did it! Get a president elected? Did it!’: How Will.i.am conquered the world
He got Obama elected, rescued Cheryl Cole’s career and became a favourite at the Palace – but can he really become the next Bill Gates?
‘As a schoolboy, in the ghetto, gang members didn’t mess with me because they knew I was into music. You get a “ghetto pass” if you’re an athlete, a musician or you work for the church,’ said Will.i.am
‘Boy, you crazy.’
That was what Will.i.am’s mum told him when he called to say he was giving nearly all of his fee for appearing on BBC1’s The Voice – £500,000 – to Prince Charles. He can see why it bemused her.
‘When I was growing up in the ghetto, I never thought I would make that amount of money,’ he says.
‘And never in my wildest dreams did I think I would make that amount of money and give it to a prince.’ It was actually the Prince’s Trust.
‘I told her there are kids over here in east London and Brixton who are like how we were growing up. I’m from a poor neighbourhood.
‘My way out of the ghetto was music, but that industry’s not as robust as it used to be. Sport is great, but not every single person is going to be a football player. So I wanted to fund STEM programmes: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.’
‘There was pressure to go and sign on for welfare, but I said no,’ said Will.i.am
And that’s how William James Adams Jr, raised in the housing projects of Boyle Heights, east Los Angeles, came to be on friendly terms with the British Royal Family.
You’d expect there to be cultural differences.
Shouting ‘Happy birthday, Your Highness’ at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert suggested Will isn’t entirely au fait with Royal protocol. But very little phases the ebullient 37-year-old. His first thought on entering Clarence House was how much the furniture looked like his grandma’s.
‘When I met Prince William I told him I felt really short next to him,’ he says.
‘Then I said, “Hey, let’s go clubbing.” He said, “No, I can’t.” I said, “Well, what about Harry?”
‘I met the Queen, but it was just to say hello, pleasure to meet you, congratulations. Because what do you tell the Queen? You’re lost for words. I felt like I was in a fairy tale. I thought of my childhood and how I never thought I’d be doing this.’
In fact, not only did Will.i.am mingle with royalty this year; he also ran with the Olympic torch, spoke at Oxford University, had his writing compared to William Shakespeare’s by the artistic director of the RSC and spent 11 weeks on one of the BBC’s top-rated prime-time shows. The entire British establishment embraced him. Why is that?
‘I think it’s probably because of the way my mum raised me,’ he says.
‘My family’s very proper. We say, “Yes, ma’am. No, ma’am.” Going to school my mum didn’t let me wear casual clothes. She said, “You don’t have no business wearing play attire when you’re going there to learn.”
‘So I’ve worn smart clothes ever since – like Prince Charles. His suit was cool. My first success with music was in the UK and something tells me that I need to be here.’
Will.i.am is not like other hip hop stars. He doesn’t appear to drink alcohol. He exists on handfuls of nuts and seeds and shots of energy-boosting vegetable juice.
He has a large property in LA decorated like a French mansion – although he calls it a studio, not a home, and lives in hotels.
He is either dreamy or distracted, starting many of his answers with ‘I was thinking…’ and sometimes appearing to send a tweet on his phone between me asking a question and him answering it.
Yet when his interest is piqued – usually by some future project – all the lights come on. Genius? Oddball? He could never have been pedestrian.
Will.i.am gave his £500,000 fee for appearing on BBC1’s The Voice to Prince Charles’s charity, the Prince’s Trust. ‘When I met Prince Williams I told him I felt really short next to him,’ he said
‘As a schoolboy, in the ghetto, gang members didn’t mess with me because they knew I was into music,’ he tells me.
‘You get a “ghetto pass” if you’re an athlete, a musician or you work for the church. Those are the three ways they won’t mess with you. I recorded a demo tape over my sister’s Barbie and the Rockers tape. I still take it with me everywhere I go, to remind me of the dream I had when I was 13.’
With his school friend Allan, Will formed a band, initially going by the name Atban Klann. They were spotted in a club by a member of gangsta rap group NWA and given a deal when Will was 17, but the album was never released and it was to be several years before he made any money.
‘I didn’t have a job,’ he says. ‘I was living with my ex-girlfriend. I told her music was my dream and my passion and I didn’t want to get distracted.
‘There was pressure to go and sign on for welfare, but I said no. That’s the easy way out. If I do that, I’ll be comfortable and I’m never going to work hard to make my dreams real. So I didn’t. I figured out a way to pay the bills for three months.’‘My real passion now is going into inner cities and trying to transform them,’ said Will.i.am
This kind of self-reliance is one reason why Will’s opinions are sought by both politicians and CEOs – but we’ll get to that.
Aged 22, he changed the name of his band to Black Eyed Peas.
Their first two albums did OK. Now they were playing not just in California (where their policy of playing every single college paid dividends), but also in London, whose welcome he’s never forgotten. But it wasn’t until the band recruited pop singer Fergie that the floodgates opened.
Featuring singles Hey Mama, Let’s Get It Started, Shut Up and Where Is The Love?, their 2003 album Elephunk went to number three in the UK, selling 8.5 million copies worldwide. The follow-up sold ten million. Two more followed, and three solo albums from Will.
A fourth has been recorded and is due to arrive soon.
Altogether, he’s sold more than 50 million records, won a sackful of Grammy awards and earned an estimated £50 million. But it’s not enough.
‘Each time the popularity grew,’ he says, ‘it was like a new layer of the onion was revealed.
‘I was asked to do things and it turned out I could do them. People would say, “I bet you can’t get a Grammy.” And you work hard and you say, “Did it! What else you got?” “Bet you can’t play the Super Bowl.” OK. Did it! What else you got? “Bet you can’t play the World Cup.” Wow, that’s going to be hard. Did it! “Democratic convention.” Did it! “Get a president elected.” Did it!’
Yes, Will.i.am believes he was responsible for President Obama’s victory in 2008.
‘One of my friends was in politics and had introduced me to Obama, but I didn’t know how to support him,’ says Will.
‘Someone suggested I turn my song I Got It From My Mama into I’m Voting For Obama. I said, “What? No! If you do that, Obama’s gonna lose. If I were you guys, I’d do a song based on the speech he gave in New Hampshire last night” – which was the Yes We Can speech.
‘So I took his words and put them to a melody and sort of turned it into a hymn. It took two days, cost $3,000, but got billions of impressions around the internet and helped to raise millions for the campaign. It outperformed any other tool that was used.
‘So that’s how my mind works. I problem-solve. That’s how I got involved in STEM programmes for kids, like the one I set up with Prince Charles.’
Featuring singles Hey Mama, Let’s Get It Started, Shut Up and Where Is The Love?, Black Eyed Peas’ 2003 album Elephunk went to number three in the UK, selling 8.5 million copies worldwide
It’s also how Will’s single Reach For The Stars became the first song to be beamed to Earth from another planet on August 28. Nasa had asked him how to get kids interested in the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars.
‘So I said, why not make a song with a bunch of kids, and then when the rocket lands we can beam it back to Earth?’ he says.
‘I didn’t think they’d let me, but Nasa said, “Sure, that sounds like a great idea. Let’s do that.” You have to invent new goals for yourself.
‘My real passion now is going into inner cities and trying to transform them. There’s a lot of great minds in those places. There could be a Mark Zuckerberg in Brixton and a (Twitter co-founder) Jack Dorsey in east London; you’ve just got to give them the tools and find them. Then that neighbourhood is changed forever.’
With all these schemes he’s done a great deal for other people’s kids. It’s admirable, I tell him. Does he want to have kids of his own one day?
The atmosphere changes. There’s a very long pause.
‘Whoa,’ he says eventually. ‘These are some crazy-ass questions.’
Then another long pause. He begins singing.
‘One day I might have some kids,’ he croons.
‘Right now I’m just practising.’
Then another silence, inviting no further discussion. It’s clear this is off-limits.‘I took his (Barack Obama) words and put them to a melody and sort of turned it into a hymn. It cost $3,000, but got billions of impressions around the internet and helped to raise millions for the campaign,’ said Will.i.am
Perhaps it’s not kids, but relationships that are off-limits. There’s an awful amount of speculation online about Will’s sexuality; it’s one of the first things that comes up when you Google his name. He says only that he is ‘not lonely’.
He’s meeting Cheryl Cole for dinner after our meeting. I ask him what their relationship is.
‘Confidante,’ he says. ‘The music industry is filled with a bunch of untrustworthy people who have ulterior motives, so it’s always good to have an honest opinion. I share my advice and my experiences with her, and she does the same for me.’
It’s clearly deep and genuine – and not sexual. Some people think Will.i.am ‘doesn’t do sex’. He’s too strange, too busy, too hyper to get entangled with another man or woman. I personally doubt this is true, if only because of the way he looks after his family. He may keep strange hours, but this is not a selfish guy.
‘I bought my mum a car with my first cheque,’ he tells me.
‘Then I moved my mum, cousins, uncles and grandma out of the ghetto. They didn’t want to go. When you’re raised in a place like that, you’ve already surrendered and accepted that you’re going to be there forever.
‘Mum had been there for 45 years, my grandma had been there for, like, 70 years, so when I bought their houses, I didn’t ask. I just did it. It was only later that I bought myself a car.’
On Cheryl Cole: ‘I share my advice and my experiences with her, and she does the same for me’
He tells me he has three cars at the moment. Disappointingly, Will.i.am doesn’t drive a Jag.you.are, but a Bentley and two sports cars which he designed himself. He’s also been seen in an electric Tesla sports car and the DeLorean from Back to the Future. Not to mention a private helicopter christened the ‘Hip. hop.copter’.
Isn’t this exactly what we want from our pop stars? The charts used to be full of big-spending, globetrotting, crazily dressed, sexually ambiguous, mercurial and endlessly energetic figures. These days they’re in short supply. Which may explain why Britain was so quick to clasp this one to its bosom.
But he might not remain in the pop game for too much longer. He already has acting, producing, DJing, designing and philanthropy on his CV.
He’s about to launch a brand of recycled caps and headphones called Ekocycle. He has lectured at Google’s Zeitgeist conference and attended the annual meeting of Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative, and is ‘director of creative innovation’ for Intel.
And now he wants to learn computer coding. It can’t be that hard.
‘When I was 17 and had my first record deal, I didn’t know my way around a studio, but I figured it out,’ he says.
‘In the next 20 years I want to be writing code and collaborating with mathematicians, engineers, turning my ideas into reality.
‘When I’m 60 years old, what does life look like? Soon, your phone will know if you’re sick because it’s been monitoring your vital signs; it’ll know who made your food and who served it to you. It’ll know if the guy next door has a cold. So you’ll go to the doctor and hand him your device.
‘And all this stuff is going to be connected to your house, your car and your office. Who are the people inventing this stuff? What’s going to be the Microsoft Windows and the Mac OS of that world? Who’s thinking and dreaming it up? I want to be one of those people. I see that far.’
Mrs Adams’ little boy’s crazy dreams have taken him from Boyle Heights to Buckingham Palace, and his music to the surface of Mars.
Don’t bet against him going further.
Will.i.Am’s new album ‘#willpower’ is out on October 15
I want to be adored
His own unique look was inspired by a one-eyed rapper – so what are Will.i.am’s tips for accessorising in style?
We asked Will.i.am for style tips and he told us to stay British, but don’t be afraid to decorate. ‘I’m a crazy dresser and I style myself,’ he said.
‘As a little kid I was inspired by Slick Rick, who wore an eye patch and big gold chains. Hip-hop was in a fun phase then; décor was really important in how you expressed yourself.’