Will.i.am has launched an impassioned defence of playing Michael Jackson’s music with a comparison to the Holocaust.
He has defended the pop star against allegations of sexual abuse made in the documentary Leaving Neverland, equating the use of Jackson’s songs to buying from Bayer, a German firm he said made chemicals “to kill all the Jews”.
The Voice coach and Black Eyed Peas star also suggested allegations against Jackson are part of a “smear campaign” and “just the black artists” are targeted.
Will.i.am – who was the last person to work with Jackson before his death – has claimed the recent accusations of child sexual abuse levelled at the singer are financially motivated but said he is “torn” by the testimonials of Wade Robson and James Safechuck.
The singer has defended the continued playing of Jackson’s back catalogue, claiming it would be “hypocritical” not to listen to his music.
He has compared Jackson’s work as a singer to a German chemical company involved in the Holocaust.
Speaking of playing the music of an alleged abuser, Will.i.am said he can think of a “thousand” worse crimes that are tolerated without reparations being sought.
He said: “We live in a very, very, very, very hypocritical, double-standard, fake society.
“I can name a thousand other products that we still buy, still use, that are owned by folks that have done the most horrendous things to people, millions of them, and we don’t take their products from the market.
“You’re not talking about banning Bayer that made the chemicals to kill all the Jews.
“You’re not talking about real shit and yet you want to flex on a song?
“Bayer is really responsible for chemicals that killed millions of people but they’re headache medicine now.
“Are you going to ridicule them for their past? Are there reparations that need to be done for that?”
He added: “Imagine every country that ever had slaves, people said never travel to those countries because of what they’ve done in the past.
“Are you not supposed to do anything with anyone who ever did anything ill in the past?
“England, Spain, Portugal. That’s not that long ago. Are there reparations for everyone who’s done something ill?
“I could name a thousand more ills that are worse but we’re going to pull songs?”
Speaking at Elstree Studios ahead of The Voice semi-final, Will.i.am suggested that only black artists are targeted by smears, despite the conduct of “a lot of other folks”.
He said the publishing rights of the Jackson estate made it a target for financially-motivated smears.
Defending the “big-hearted” Jackson, he said: “I don’t know what to trust or believe, when I don’t know who’s behind it.
“Obviously it’s money, when The Beatles’s catalogue Sly And The Family Stone’s catalogue is still with the estate.
“I’m torn, because that’s not the Michael Jackson I loved and will always love.
“It is a smear campaign, there’s been a number of smear campaigns in the past. If he did it, it’s sad and inhumane. If he didn’t, what’s happening is sad, and inhumane.
“And for somebody that knows him, you’re torn. You have the doc. Your heart wants to believe them but they’re on record lying so how am I supposed to trust that?”
Will.i.am said he wanted to release his duet work with Jackson when the situation was “healthy” and would not release music opportunistically when the singer was making headlines.
Bayer has been contacted for responses to Will.i.am’s comments.
The live semi-final of The Voice will air on ITV at 8pm on Saturday March 30.