Producer will.i.am's Obama Video A Hit

Watch Will.i.am's Video

When famed producer Will.i.am of the hit group Black Eyed Peas heard a campaign speech by presidential candidate Barack Obama, he was inspired to write a song and produce a music video. The artist talks about making the video, which is now an Internet sensation, and why he's interested in politics.

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MICHEL MARTIN, Host:

I'm Michel Martin. And this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

Coming up, how politics is playing on the Internet this campaign season.

But first, the presidential campaign had seen plenty of celebrity endorsements so far. Some seem to have been the result of prolonged negotiations between candidate and endorser. But some top singers and performers have decided to take matters into their own hands. They created a song and video based on a speech by Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama. In just a couple of weeks, it has been viewed millions of times on YouTube.

SOUNBITE OF SONG, "YES WE CAN"

MARTIN: (Singing) It was a creed, written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation. Yes we can. It was whispered by slaves...

MARTIN: The project is the brain child of Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas. And he's with us now from Los Angeles.

Hello there.

MARTIN: Hey, everybody. How you guys doing?

MARTIN: So do I have it right that the Obama campaign had nothing to do with your video?

MARTIN: Yes and no, like, they have everything to do with the inspiration and inspiring us to do it. But as far as reaching out and asking Mike(ph), the way it's normally done, like, hey, can you do a song for us. We want you guys to get involved so we could ring with youth(ph). No, that wasn't this time.

MARTIN: So what made you do it?

MARTIN: Inspired, inspired by that speech.

MARTIN: What was it about that speech that you think got to you? That was the speech he gave right before the New Hampshire primary, right?

MARTIN: Yeah. That speech inspired me personally and made me realize why I am who I am and the blessings and opportunities that were there to mold me into this. And those were made possible by people that fought for me to have those rights and blessings - everyone from Abraham Lincoln to John F. Kennedy to Martin Luther King. And that speech kind of really hit home. I don't even think, you know, it was intended to do that, but it did it. You know, the "Yes We Can."

MARTIN: What effect do you hope this piece will have? How do you envision people using this piece?

MARTIN: I think what it's doing right now is what it was intended to do, and that's people talking about it, suggesting it to friends to watch. You know, did you see this? Oh, my gosh, you need to see this on YouTube. That's a whole new phenomenon of how music is exchanged right now.

MARTIN: And what is it about Barack Obama that speaks to you?

MARTIN: When he said, we are the ones we've been waiting for? That line right there? It's like, wow. And I think Barack speaks to people. He speaks to the people that are living rather than the people that are living to make money and living in to make money so much that it's hard for other people to live.

MARTIN: Do you envision doing anything else in support of his campaign?

MARTIN: Yeah. I don't think this song lives and dies by Barack getting nominated for president. Even if he doesn't get nominated, which would be in my eyes sad, it's to tell(ph) Obama - and this is the first time in a long time that the Democratic Party is - has two people that - are capable of doing the job.

But the real fight is when it was the time to choose a president, and America has to really decide if - it's - America has to realize that America is ready to have a man that's multi-raced. It's not even a black or white thing. America is black, white, Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Middle Eastern, Indian. America is everything.

MARTIN: I've got to ask you, though, did you consider doing a song for any Republicans?

MARTIN: If the Republicans inspired me to do that, it has - if McCain was inspirational - and not that he's not - he probably is, but he hasn't hit me like that. I wasn't thinking that, oh, I'm going to do a song for Obama. I was inspired to do a song. So if a Republican, if an independent inspired me in a way do I wanted to change myself to potentially change the country we live in, I will do a song like that.

MARTIN: All right. Well, thank you.

Will.I.Am joined us from Los Angeles. Thank you so much.

MARTIN: Thank you.

MARTIN: Will.I.Am is a songwriter and founding member of the Black Eyed Peas. And he talked with us about his video and song "Yes We Can."

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