This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.
Like a human-shaped vessel that's being controlled by a malfunctioning super-computer, or an illustration of Willy Wonka that was born again as a man with a geometrically aligned haircut, there's something not entirely human about Will.i.am. He dresses like he's waltzed backwards out of Karl Lagerfeld's boudoir; he has a car that looks like it's been imported from the town in Monsters Inc; and he never seems entirely present, like his eyes have their own screensaver mode. As the great pocket books of time continue to reveal, young William is one of the strangest beings to crawl across this earth. Is he eccentric? Is he a genuine robot? Or is he a douchebag of the highest order?
Increasingly, it's getting easier and easier to present the argument that he's simply one of the world's most nauseating celebrities. Case in point: a recent document that was handed to journalists in advance of interviewing him, titled "tips for maximizing your interview time with Will.i.am." Look on below, to see that exact document immortalised by a journalist from the Telegraph.
— Harry Wallop (@hwallop) April 2, 2016
On the one hand, it's a document that's been grown in the shubbery of pop eccentricity. On the other—and especially when you consider this document was given out in advance of interviews about a mobile phone product—it's a deluge of self-aggrandising assholery. Take, for example, the opening line, which seeks to clarify what "your access to the future is for you alone" means, as though the soon-to-be denizens of Will.i.am's lair have trouble with basic comprehension. Or the gambit that Will.i.am will know who you are, as though the pleasantly awkward interaction that takes place between two humans when they first meet is beneath a man of Will.i.am's stature. As though Will.i.am is not human, but indeed some sort of super-robot that will only operate under pre-programmed conditions.
The three-page document is the sort of narcissistic introduction that's beloved of the world's greatest ego-whores, yet when the Telegraph journalist finally meets Will.i.am—who is to be editorially addressed under his correct title, "entrepreneur, philanthropist, and Founder & CEO of i.am+."—he finds the 41-year-old musician-cum-creative to be devoid of ego. Instead, he's an anxious, stuttering man who struggles to win over girlfriends and is eager to share his new creations with the world. When the journalist mentions the three-page document, Will.i.am says, "You're shitting me". He looks appalled, as though he was unaware it even existed. That's not to say we shouldn't believe him, but there are moments in the piece where there's some potential to feel sorry for the man, who appears to have some human qualities after all. It's almost like he's just a cordial nerd with a PR team.
So what is this three-page document, really? Is Will.i.am a robot living in a host body? Is he an asshole with an ego that resides in the upper-echelon of ego town? Is he an asshole robot with an ego, thus becoming the most complex piece of AI to date? That's the narrative that's been continually created around him—and often for good reason too. But perhaps beneath that surface is a slightly eccentric, nerdy human being with a burning desire to create technology. Because like Kanye West, there's undeniably more to Will.i.am than meets the eye.
Maybe we just need someone to dive beyond the self-perpetuated narrative and interview advice booklets that surround him, to get to the core of what makes this weird blend of human and sentient super-computer tick. So Will, if you're reading this or your inbuilt search engine has scanned this webpage, let me be that person. Let me excavate your bowels and become one with you. I am ready. I know I've published a feature on you with the lead "why do we let Will.I.Am get away with being a douchebag?", but if you're willing to forgive me for that, then I'm willing to forgive you for releasing some heinous music. Let me reach out you. Let me connect. You are human, and so am I. Together we can build.
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