The rapper was speaking to NME on the red carpet of new Netflix Original documentary series The Defiant Ones – which charts the rise and success of Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine in the world of music and business.
As well as praising the project for shining a light on the work of his “family” in Dre and Iovine, Will.i.am also told us about his new graphic novel project. Using virtual reality and augmented reality technology, ‘Masters Of The Sun’ sees Black Eyed Peas partner with Marvel, as well as teaming up with Hans Zimmer for the score – and featuring the ‘amazing cast’ of the likes of Stan Lee, Snoop Dogg, Rakim, Slick Rick, Raekwon, Redman, Mary J Blige, Queen Latifah, Jaden Smith, Jamie Foxx and many more.
“Black Eyed Peas, we’re always working on that,” Will.i.am told NME. “We just released a graphic novel called ‘Masters Of The Sun’. It has AR capabilities, which means you go to your Apple phone or your Samsung phone, download the augmented reality app and the book comes to life.”
He continued: “The Black Eyed Peas just put out a new song called ‘Street Livin’, but our project is VR. We’re trying to push the front on telling stories, creating content and building worlds.”
Asked if virtual reality was the future of musical experience, Will.i.am replied: “It’s 1918 right now. If this was 1918 and I was a singer, I’d sing in the opera. If I was an actor, I’d perform in theatres. If someone said ‘yo, you think the future of telling stories is this thing called movies?’ Fuck yeah it is. The camera changed how we told stories.
“If you’re going to ask me if the future of telling stories is virtual reality, fuck yeah it is. That’s the reason the music industry is the way it is right now. A shift is happening; a change. People want deeper stories. That’s the reason why we binge eight hours of Game Of Thrones. That’s why we binge 10 hours of a documentary like The Defiant Ones. Everyone is thirsty for richer engagements, worlds, characters, truths, fantasies and myths. You aren’t getting that from a song, or 12 songs, somebody has the push it.”
The Defiant Ones is out on Netflix UK from Friday March 23.
Meanwhile, last year it was confirmed that Fergie would no longer be part of Black Eyed Peas.
“Since the beginning of Black Eyed Peas, we’ve always had amazing vocalists that appeared on the mic with us,” said Will.i.am. “People like Macy Gray, Esthero, Debi Nova, Fergie.
“On ‘Elephunk’, there were several females that appeared on that album,” he continued. “Obviously Fergie was the featured female, but on songs like ‘Lets Get It Started’, it’s Noelle (Scaggs), and then Fergie, songs like ‘Latin Girls’, it’s Debi Nova, and ‘Request Line’, it’s Macy Gray. We’ll always work with good females.”
He continued: “As for replacing, what people know The Black Eyed Peas to be, nobody is replacing Fergie. She’s working on her solo project at the moment, we’re on this brand new experience, celebrating 20 years of Black Eyed Peas putting out music. We worked on a bunch of songs on her solo record, we’re proud that she has her label, but Black Eyed Peas are pushing it forward in terms of content, technology and experiences on our new project, Masters of the Sun.”