Will.i.am, whose real name is William James Adams, Jr., was born and raised in Los Angeles, California.
Your natural tendencies to assume that will.i.am’s religion is the dominant faith of Martian robots is understandable, but he comes from much more pedestrian roots. He was raised a Baptist,1 though he grew up in a largely Hispanic neighborhood, undoubtedly dominated by Catholic imagery and culture.2
But now, will.i.am wants us to respect all religions as pathways to enlightenment. Responding to a preacher who wanted to publicly burn a Koran, he said:
If it’s the Torah, if it’s the Koran, if it’s the Bible, if it’s… whatever… you shouldn’t be disrespecting people’s vehicle to enlightenment… Muslims are great, Jews are great, Buddhists are great, Hindi are great, Christians are great. There’s great people everywhere.3
Clearly will.i.am doesn’t get bogged down in the details. It’s all about people for him, not ideas. But it still leaves us with the sense of: What are you? I’m sticking with Martian robot, a view corroborated by the fact that the will.i.am song, “Reach for the Stars,” was transmitted off of Mars by the robot rover Curiosity.4
Politics of lost hope
In 2008, will.i.am was as staunch an Obama supporter as they come. He even produced a video on behalf of the president-elect called “Yes We Can,” featuring a slew of stars singing and speaking along with an Obama speech in honor of his election victory.
Watch it and you’ll see that it’s a safe bet that will.i.am was energized by the Hope & Change message.
But in 2011, the veneer began to crack. During the Super Bowl halftime show, the Black Eyed Peas performed their song, “Let’s Get it Started,” but with modified lyrics, begging the president to finally get down to business, saying:
In America we need to get things straight / Obama, let’s get these kids educated / Create jobs so the country stays stimulated.5
Then, in response to Obama’s re-election bid in 2012, will.i.am did not relinquish his support, but expressed extreme satisfaction when he said:
I don’t want to hope anymore. I don’t feel disappointed. I feel like, Argggh! Speak louder! I feel like, Do something!6
The word on the street is, that’s how a lot of Obama supporters are feeling.
- Is Will I Am Jewish? Cha Cha. [↩]
- Will.i.am on Living in East Los Angeles. YouTube. [↩]
- Black Eyed Peas Will.I.Am Talks Averting Koran Burning. YouTube. [↩]
- Mars rover Curiosity beams will.i.am song from Red Planet surface. LA Times. [↩]
- Black Eyed Peas Change Lyrics to Include Obama in Super Bowl Halftime Show. The Hollywood Reporter. [↩]
- Hollywood in 2012: Out of love with Barack Obama. The Grio. [↩]