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Will.i.am On Working With Michael Jackson: "We're Taking It Day By Day"

September 24, 2007 4:37 PM ET

As you're reading this, Black Eyed Pea and producer to the stars Will.i.am is locked away in a New York City recording studio working with Michael Jackson on the Gloved One's highly anticipated comeback album. Last week, we reported that Jackson is in town plotting his return, and now as Will.i.am's solo album Songs About Girls is about to hit record stores, Will tells us, "We're taking it day by day, we've finished some songs. I like what I'm doing, I'm really happy with it, but it's not my project to talk about. I could be talking about song titles what they sound like and be excited about it, but those songs I made may not make his record and then I look like an idiot." Fair enough. So what was it like stepping into the studio with a true legend? "That was the hardest thing on the planet Earth that I ever had to endure," he said. "I even said, 'You know what, Mike? I know how to work with Justin. I know how to work with Fergie. I know how to work with John Legend. I know how to work with thee people, but it probably took four or five days [for me to figure it out with you].' He's like, 'Why? What do you mean,'" Will recalls, doing a disturbingly spot-on imitation of Jackson's falsetto whisper. "'Well everything you do I like.'"

"Because we had that conversation, I could navigate the session and not just be like, 'Ooooh, damn, it's Michael, oh my God,'" Will remembers. "You can't let that affect you in the studio when you're working with newcoming artists," he adds of working with established greats. "Newcoming artists can have a great idea but because you just worked with Michael Jackson you're going to think their idea is not superior. You can't do that. You have to be able to tame a lion and then forget all about it when you're chillin' with cats."

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Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

Tag Team | 1993

Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

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