Will.i.am Finds His Integrity | Bleader

Will.i.am Finds His Integrity

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Will.i.am's transition from crunchy backpacker to chart behemoth is pretty easy to see as the story of an artist renouncing his integrity—especially since he now sells disgusting numbers of records by ripping off the moves of underground musicians and repackaging them for mainstream consumption. It's all cool for him, I guess. I'm sure that when he lays his head down on pillows stuffed with million-dollar bills every night, he falls soundly, wealthily asleep, untroubled by the nagging worry that he hasn't had an original idea in a decade. So when I heard a story recently about Will.i.am acting like a stand-up guy—in a situation where most people are happy to compromise their ethics for financial gain—I nearly choked on my coffee.

Michael, a collection of previously unreleased Michael Jackson music, came out yesterday. Given that Jackson's death seemed to turn even casual fans into foaming-at-the-mouth fanatics, it will probably be a very profitable record. But like most posthumous albums, by artists from Tupac to Elliott Smith, it contains material that was largely unfinished at the time of his death. Jackson collaborators familiar with his perfectionism are outraged that Michael is happening.

And Will.i.am is among them. He's told Rolling Stone that he's "disgusted" that the album's being released. Which is exactly the right way to feel about it! And he swears that he'll never allow any of the songs he worked on with Michael to be released. Which is exactly the right course of action! And I'm sure he's aware that those songs could buy him a lot of sickeningly expensive, dumb-looking sunglasses!

I'm going to go lie down for a sec and pretend this isn't happening, so that the cognitive dissonance in my brain can clear up a bit.

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