NEW YORK - JUNE 12: The Black Eyed Peas perform on NBC's "Today" at Rockefeller Center on June 12, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
"There's a part of me that wants to be cocky, but then I can't be cocky," the 34-year-old Peas leader said in a phone interview from Los Angeles on Tuesday. "There's a part of me that wants to call out all of my other peers and competitors. I don't want to say no names because I'm not like that, but part of me wants to do that. And would it be wrong if I did that? Yes it would. I'm not like that."
This week the foursome, who have had their share of critics, will have topped Billboard's Hot 100 singles charts for 20 consecutive weeks, the most ever by an act. "Boom Boom Pow" and the song that dislodged it, "I Gotta Feeling," have been at the top of the charts for 12 and eight weeks, respectively.
Though the band has had big hits over the years, "Boom Boom Pow" was their first No. 1 single. Will.i.am says he's surprised how successful the song became.
"I knew that 'Boom Boom Pow' would be big in the clubs, but I didn't know it would be that potent with the world, outside of the club. So that my accountant's aunt would be like: Black Eyed Peas, I love 'Boom Boom Pow!'" he laughed. "I didn't know it was going to be that. I didn't know that teachers would say I like 'Boom Boom Pow.'"
But the success is not pure luck, will.i.am explains. Though he says the band didn't listen to the radio when creating their latest disc, "The E.N.D.," he says they did heavy research by partying at underground nightclubs and events.
They chose "Boom Boom Pow" as the first single after the response it got when they debuted it at a Grammy party this year. After its success, they used the same idea for their current hit.
"When I picked up 'I Gotta Feeling' we tested in the clubs, looked at people, how they responded to a song they didn't know. We're looking at what's the best summer song out of all the songs, let's go out there and have a party," he explained.
So they had a party. And the response was great.
He says the group will use the same strategy for the third single, the groovy "Meet Me Halfway."
"We kept in mind when it would be coming out: It'll be out for the holidays. Do we want to be jam-pack smacking people high octane in the club during Christmas? No. So let's know that the emotion we want to get out there is still melodic, a love subject would be cool around Christmas and we still want to be in the club," he said.
Will.i.am says he's not sure how to take it all in.
"Like how am I supposed to take this and soak this in? If these people like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson have these No.1s, but yet we just broke a record, how am I supposed to take that because we came from the under, under, underground," he said.