What makes AMG and will.i.am the perfect match for this celebration of AMG 55 Years? Well, to start off, it’s the ideal marriage of creativity and imagination.
Most people know will.i.am as a musician part of the multi-platinum global super group Black Eyed Peas, or as a Coach on the popular reality talent search TV show, The Voice. But what most people don’t know is that this singer, producer, hip hop artist and songwriter has his finger firmly on the pulse of what the future might bring. It’s his savvy knowledge of emerging technological advancements, his ability to predict the ifs, buts and maybes of what may come in the next few decades, and his commitment to transformation in his career that has made him a gamechanger in many ways.
For years, will.i.am has been at the forefront of music. As the founder and frontman of Black Eyed Peas, the band went on to release chart-topping hits, such as Pump It, Where Is The Love?, My Humps, and many more. Twenty-five years later, he still sits among music royalty all over the world, and there’s plenty more to learn from will.i.am.
But what makes AMG and will.i.am the perfect match for this celebration of AMG 55 Years? Well, to start us off, it’s the ideal marriage of creativity and imagination. Take will.i.am’s project, ‘The Flip’, as a recent result of what can happen when two creative forces come together. The WILL.I.AMG vehicle brought two worlds under one bonnet, injecting a profound sense of his own identity into the body of an AMG, and to reimagine the vehicle through his own vision, outlook and heritage.
And what we discovered when we sat down with will.i.am, that connecting the dots between different worlds is what he does best. So, read on to find out more about what innovation we can expect happen in the future, what AMG and hip hop have in common, and why you shouldn’t use the word ‘metaverse.’
Taking it back, who have been your inspirations from the start?
Well, my mom, my grandma, my uncles. My family members are my biggest inspirations. Then in music, A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul. And Jimmy Iovine, Co-founder, Interscope Records.
How would you characterise and describe your career so far?
Morphing. Always morphing. Once, I was a caterpillar. That’s how the world saw me as then, I was in a cocoon. And what flies out comes out like a butterfly. And that's transformation. So, if there's a word that describes my career, it's transformation from where I was, to where I've been, to where I am now and where I'm going. Always in that constant flux. You do that by learning, by going out and hunting for inspiration, not waiting for inspiration to happen to you. Going out there with an open mind and discovering different pockets of the world.
What is it about AMG that has always made you gravitate towards the brand?
AMG is the definition of transformation. The whole concept of AMG is flipping. It's like the core of what hip hop is. The AMG guys took a Mercedes and reimagined it for the racetrack for a different generation, a different segment of the world. And that's hip hop. They might not think they're hip hop, but they affected us. They affected us so much that people like Eric B. & Rakim felt like it was important that they pose in front of an AMG for the album cover in the 80s. What was it about the AMG that spoke to hip hop? Did they aim their car at inner city kids? They didn't market it to us. But they spoke directly to us, because the essence of AMG is about reimagining Mercedes for high performance. It's that fusion. And that's what I'm inspired by: the energy.
Looking to the future of technology, what are you excited for?
I'm excited for web 3.0, and what that brings. We won't even notice it. But we will look back and be like, “Wow”. You look at life today – we take a lot of things for granted; we don't value how awesome the world is right now. But if you look back 10 years ago, you didn't order a taxi on an app on your phone, you didn't order food and it show up at your house right down to the coordinates. You couldn't just stream music so freely. Compared to web 1.0, if you go from 2012 to 2002, you had to go home to get on the internet, you didn't have internet in your pocket, some people had laptops, and your phone was just for making calls.
In terms of the future of motoring then, what are you looking forward to?
Self-driving cars are going to be awesome. We will look back like, “remember when there was traffic?” You have to think about all the cars on some type of grid system – it knows exactly where each driver wants to go at every time and can do this without accidents. There’s also the relationship aspect with the vehicle. Right now, you have a relationship with the phone. Your phone knows you better than your mom, your dad, your uncle, your business, your government, your religion. This phone, and the companies that have these apps, can predict your every move. You think it's listening to you, but it’s not because it's mapped you and predicted you. With the car, hopefully the business models will be more mindful and kinder to people, with more purposeful, humanised tech rather than greed, shareholder, privacy, and infringing tools.
So, some of the biggest game changes are happening now in tech, right? But what are the pockets of the world and society that you think there are, or should be, huge changes in the game?
Technology must alter how we manufacture products that we dispose of. We only have one planet, and the way things are made, we can't sustain our consumption while also disposing of things. It affects folks in communities that are living right next to landfills. People here in cities, we don't really understand the conditions of folks that are living next to all the stuff that we discard or dump. There's a huge society out there that we ignore, and it's messing up their livelihoods, messing up the planet. So, technology is hopefully going to help change how we manufacture stuff, not just the stuff that we consume, but how they're made, and what they're made from, and how quickly they biodegrade…
What about some of the big changes that you think are happening to music?
It’s not what I want, but it’s coming. And that’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) that could compose sophisticated songs, and sing and about current events, and rhyme and build melody structures that are built for individuals. So before, artists would go and make a song for everybody, but AI is going to make a song for you.
Do you think that's going to ruin music or make music better?
It's going to change music. Say if you like Antônio Carlos Jobim or Jorge Ben Jor, or Gilberto Gil… Maybe you’ve never heard of these people. And if you hear that music and you’re used to Leonard Skinner, you’re going to think it’s horrible. There are some people that say, “that's my favourite form of music.” Maybe you like Marcelo D2, but maybe you’ve never heard of him. Maybe you like the UK version, maybe Skepta. All that local stuff is going to change the personal. For example, I'm from this part of the world, and there's an artist that makes music for me and that I can relate to. But that's going to change. There's going to be some AI that makes music just for you; songs based on your memories, based on the things that you like from the world, based on the things that you hate in the world, based on the things that move you emotionally. The reason why you like your favourite artists is because they move you emotionally. But what if a machine could make you feel that way?