NEW YORK — Maybe the ever-reclusive Michael Jackson needs to start getting out in public more often, so people can get reacquainted with what his voice sounds like. It seems like whenever he reaches out personally to work with somebody these days, no one thinks it's actually him. The latest person to get confused was none other than one of the hottest producers in the game right now, Will.I.Am.
"He called me on the phone and asked me to get down with him," Will said recently. "I didn't think it was him at first. I thought it was somebody joking around.
"He was like, 'Nobody ever believes it's me,' " Will continued, giving his best light-voiced MJ impersonation. "I was like, 'No, seriously, who is this?' He says, 'It's Michael Jackson. This is me.' I was like, 'Prove it. Say, "I'm bad!" Let me hear you.' "
Whether or not Jackson actually said, "I'm bad," will have to be left up to our collective imagination. But the two did talk over the phone a couple more times, and Will says he was on a plane to Ireland to record with Jackson a week later.
"It was Mike," the Black Eyed Peas' leading man continued. "I'm a fan of the dude. He's the smartest dude I ever met. I met James Brown, had the opportunity to work wit' him too. You get a couple of great people to help you live your life. You got your Michael Jacksons, your James Browns, Princes, Nat King Coles, just to shed light on the earth.
"Michael Jackson, he told me what rock and roll meant," he added. "He said, 'Rock and roll, you know, that means having sex. That's what they used to say back in the '50s: "You ever rock and roll?" ' Chillin' with him, you have a outlook on what Michael Jackson will be like. He still is real proud of being black. A lot of times he's repressed in the media, so you don't think that."
Will says he's not sure if any of his music will end up on Jackson's next album, but they're continuing to talk and try to figure out what they need to do to finish their tracks.