Will.I.Am Responds To VMA 'Blackface' Criticism

MC says costume for Nicki Minaj pre-show performance wasn't meant to be racially charged.

[article id="1647648"]Nicki Minaj made a colorful MTV Video Music Awards debut[/article] when she rocked the pre-show in a bubblegum-pink wig and shimmery purple catsuit. But it was the hue of her onstage collaborator [artist id="1521450"]Will.I.Am[/artist]'s getup that really got viewers talking.

After Minaj and her dancers took the stage decked out in Jetsons-chic bodysuits for her smash "Your Love," Will joined Minaj for a rendition of their cheery hip-pop track "Check It Out." When the Black Eyed Peas frontman hopped onstage, ushered in by two plumes of thick white fog, the MC was rocking all-black evertything -- with the exception of a few Barbie-pink accents, including fingerless gloves, a shiny midnight-colored plastic hairpiece and jet-black face paint.

Apparently some viewers took offense to the producer's outfit, especially the dark makeup, which, to some fans, was reminiscent of the antiquated, racially charged practice of blackface. After fans blasted the rapper online, he took to Twitter to defend the look as artistic expression and not an embrace of the controversial maquillage typically used to lampoon African-Americans.

"1st. just because I where all black including head mask as expression and emphasize my outfit, it shouldn't be looked at as racial," Will tweeted. "Let go of the past. there are far more important things 2 bark about. (Jobs, health, education) not a black man wearing all black everything."

The Peas frontman insisted the face paint was a harmless costume choice and that fans concerned with the image Will's look projected should focus on larger issues.

"Are you guys serious? my outfit set 'black people back 100 yrs' choose your twits wisely," Will typed. "No education sets people back, no jobs, bad health."

What did you think of Will's outfit? Were you offended by the look? Let us know in the comments.

The Moonmen have all been handed out and the stars have gone home, but there's plenty of MTV Video Music Awards news, interviews, behind-the-scenes scoop, party reports and more still to come, so keep it locked on