By now you’ve heard about the great #willpower thievery of 2013, in which one will.i.am blatantly ripped off both Mat Zo & Arty’s “Rebound” and Sandro Silva & Quintino’s “Epic” to create his songs “Let’s Go” and “Bang Bang.” As unfortunate as that situation is, it’s not close to the first time The Black Eyed Peas frontman has been accused of lifting someone else’s work without the proper clearance. Let’s turn back the clock to 2006 and run through some of the notable “track-jacks” from the seven-time Grammy Award winner.
2006: J.J. Fad – “Supersonic” // Fergie – “Fergalicious”
Chances are you remember “Fergalicious” from Fergie’s debut album The Dutchess back in 2006. What you probably didn’t know is that will.i.am copied J.J. Fad’s “Supersonic” to “produce” the track. Somehow, he got off on calling this one a “sample.”
2006: Groundation – “Waterfall” // Fergie – “Voodoo Doll.”
Also from Fergie’s debut album, will.i.am was sued by Grounded Music on the claim that a song recorded in 2000 by the reggae group Groundation was “substantially and strikingly similar” to The Peas singer “Voodoo Doll.” Not quite as strong of a case as “Fergalicious,” but pretty damn similar.
2007: Daft Punk – “Around The World” // will.i.am – “I Got It From My Momma” (Remix)
In 2007, will.i.am used an uncleared sample of Daft Punk’s “Around The World” to remix his song “I Got It From My Momma.” He even took this one a step further, creating the above Human After All-inspired music video that opens with the repeated phrase, “believe it or not, this is a remix.” Needless to say, Daft Punk failed to approve use of the sample and refused will.i.am permission to release the song.
2009: – FrankMusik – “Yes Or No” // Cheryl Cole – “Boy Like You” (feat. will.i.am)
While producing the song “Yes Or No” for Cheryl Cole, will.i.am was accused by English Musician Frankmusik of ripping off his song “Boy Like You” that was created 11 months prior. Digital Spy recorded these quotes:
It’s theft that’s all. Its not Cheryl Cole personally. Its the producer douche who stole my idea that I did 11 months ago.
Its not the sample. It’s the fact that will.i.am used it in exactly the same way as I did. I am not doing this for promo. It’s plagiarism fair and square. I was/am shocked as anyone would be. I did it 11 months ago!
I know its Fleetwood Mac. As does everyone one else. But will.i.am has ripped my idea big time. End of.
2009: Adam Freeland – “Mancry” // The Black Eyed Peas – “Party All The Time”
This one was just too obvious, and resulted in an out-of-court cash settlement with producer Adam Freeland where will.i.am admitted to the unfair theft.
It was a lack of finalizing legalities before releasing the record, clearance was not done and that was what it was about.
2010: Phoenix Phenom – “Boom Dynamite” // The Black Eyed Peas – “Boom Boom Pow”
In 2010, hip-hop duo Phoenix Phenom filed lawsuits claiming that The Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” rips off their track “Boom Dynamite,” which they suggested had been submitted to Interscope Records a year before the Peas recorded their version. It was a pretty big stretch, but a copyright claim nonetheless.
2010: Medina – “You & I” (deadmau5 Remix) // The Black Eyed Peas – “The Time (Dirty Bit)”
In true deadmau5 style, Zimmerman recreated the Black Eyed Peas’ “The Time (Dirty Bit)” on Ustream after fans flooded the producer with messages comparing the track to his remix of Medina’s “You & I.”
At least if I ever have to do a remix for them, I don’t have to ask for parts. Just saying.
2011: Boys Noize – “Yeah” // [[[zuper blahq]]] – “Dance”
Under his Zuper Blahq moniker, will.i.am foreshadowed how he’d steal Arty & Mat Zo’s “Rebound” by jacking the beat from Boys Noize’s “Yeah.” After a complaint from the German producer on Twitter, the song he had renamed as “Dance” was muted on YouTube with the caption, “This video previously contained a copyrighted audio track. Due to a claim by a copyright holder, the audio track has been muted.” Hilariously, this song still exists on Soundowl under the title “Dance (prod. by Zuper Blahq).”
2013: Tulisa – “Scream & Shout” // will.i.am – “Scream & Shout”
For a time, will.i.am was thought to have been sued by British singer-songwriter Tulisa, who originally co-wrote “Scream & Shout” with Jean Baptiste under the title “I Don’t Give A F***” for her debut album. According to The Sun, will.i.am heard the original track and decided to take sections off and re-record it with Britney Spears, creating a track that landed number one on Billboard’s recently installed dance/electronic chart. In March however, reports of a lawsuit were denied.
And that brings us to today, where it appears the man still hasn’t learned his lesson or gained a bit of creativity, stealing songs from multiple artists used on his soon-to-be-released #willpower album. The worst of it all is that will.i.am is only one of many artists known for their barefaced beat burglary. A name like Flo Rida repeatedly comes to mind, or Chris Brown’s Calvin Harris controversy, but as Cracked points out, the music thievery game extends back farther than you’d like to remember, to groups like Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Madonna, and Green Day. Samples are and will continue to be a huge part of all the music we listen to, but with evidence like this, it’s really hard not to scratch your head and ask, “really bro?”
Maor Levi puts it best…