will.i.am has told the origin story behind that iconic crowd chant on Usher‘s 2010 hit single “OMG.”
The Black Eyed Peas frontman sat down with UPROXX‘s Fresh Pair and explained how the song’s breakdown chant came from an unlikely source.
“They called me one day and was like, ‘Yo we need a hit.’ I’m like, ‘What type of hit?’ ‘Cause that’s a very vague thing. ‘You know, international. We need an international smash,’” will.i.am recalled. “‘I Got a Feeling’ was massive and I was hunting for an ‘I Got a Feeling.’ I’m like, ‘Yo man, I need a song like freaking Kool & The Gang ‘Celebrate’ that plays everywhere, at every birthday party, every Bar Mitzvah, every freaking football game. I need a song like that.”
While on the hunt for this song, will.i.am remembered a performance with The Black Eyed Peas he had previously done in France, and said after they ran through their juggernaut hit “I Got a Feeling” the crowd started chanting.
“So I’m like, ‘Yo, what the fuck is that?’” will.i.am said. “So I go to the TV host I’m like, ‘Excuse me, what’s this?’ He’s like, ‘It means they like the Black Eyed Peas.’ I’m like, can you send me this?”
The host sent along an mp3 of the crowd chanting, and when asked by Usher to produce an “international hit” brought that soundbite to his team, and it fit perfectly with “OMG.”
The song, off Usher’s platinum sixth studio album Raymond v. Raymond, would go on to become the R&B star’s ninth number-one hit in the US, making him the first 2010s artist to collect number-one singles in three consecutive decades.
Usher has collected so many hits over the years, that he said in August no other R&B singer could ever take him on in a Verzuz battle.
“I think if you ever came to my show, you would understand that I don’t even think a Verzuz could handle all of the songs that I have to be honest,” he said in an interview with the PEOPLE Every Day podcast. “It’s like, I could do it by myself. But I don’t wanna do that. That’s not the purpose of Verzuz, me versus me.”
He continued: “But I think it’s great. It’s great to celebrate music. But the appreciation of it starts with understanding what it is and how long has it taken to do this legacy. And if you choose to compare it, what are you comparing to? Are you comparing it to itself?”
Usher then noted he’s in a different tier when it comes to hits. “I’m a different animal, man,” he said.“I’m cut from a way different cloth man. And when you put those songs on, I’m telling you, I don’t think anybody in the world would want smoke with them songs.”
As for will.i.am, he recently revealed Beyoncé’s BREAK MY SOUL Remix EP was his idea, which she dropped prior to the arrival of Renaissance. The producer noted he was in France when he heard Bey’s chart-topping hit for the first time, and said it inspired him to toy with a remix of the track. The final product ended up getting sent to Beyoncé’s camp.
“They weren’t thinking about remixes until I sent it,” he told Metro UK. “They put out a remix EP and my song’s the first one on it – and I inspired it! I can’t find the word for it – it’s like Santa Claus is real, man!”
In other news, The Black Eyed Peas just dropped off their ninth album Elevation on Friday (November 11).