Will.i.am is one of the wealthiest figures in hip-hop and has been recording music since the late-1990s. As the creative mastermind of LA collective the Black Eyed Peas, Will.i.am has produced an unfathomable amount of hits over the years. However, as an emcee who is also a fan of Michael Jackson, the lyricist recently asserted that the late ‘King of Pop’ pioneered ad-libs.
American television network Showtime recently released its documentary Thriller 40 to mark 40 years since the release of ‘Thriller’ as a single, and one of its segments includes Will.i.am (real name William Adams Jr) playing the background vocals of ‘Beat It’ to make his case that MJ invented the ad-lib.
Addressing the new generation of MCs, Adams Jr stated, “For all the new school cats that are going on record and ad-libbing, I’m sorry. Michael did that first! Why was he yawning on a record, though? It shows the freedom and how comfortable he felt in the studio without worrying about people’s judgement or like, ‘Yo, what’s that?’ Because you know he was bringing the freaking skills.”
He continued, “You knew he was bringing ultra talent and imagination for him to be like, ‘You know what? I feel like yawning right here.’ And I listen to his ad-libs, he’s doing all that [beat boxes]. He’s doing all this rhythmic stuff.”
Michael Jackson has inspired a vast array of rappers over the years. One of the more contemporary musicians he has inspired is the Migos lyricist Offset who, in an interview with GQ last month, admitted he was inspired by a letter Michael wrote to himself in the 1970s where he promised himself several career milestones.
The Voice UK judge was also influenced by his live performance and dedication to entertainment. Explaining how he plans on following in Jackson’s footsteps, Offset detailed, ” I’m doing my own merch designs, dancing in videos, dancing onstage with choreo(graphy) and with dancers because I just want to do something that separates me from everybody.”
The cover of his recent album, Set It Off, sees Offset (Kiari Cephus) paying homage to Michael Jackson by wearing a black and white suit complete with a bedazzled glove on one hand.