Was it the addition of the comely Fergie Ferg? The Justin Timberlake collab? The Saturday Night Live parody? Or “My Humps”? As a native Angeleno, we can remember the days when the Black Eyed Peas were a local hip-hop/breakdancin' act with loads of club cred. Though it was a different direction, we even remember being kinda wow'd by the then poppin-fresh sounding beats and flow of Elephunk the first time we heard it. Unfortunately, with the success of that one (and the silly accompanying videos), the band jumped the shark, going from respected to detested by many, and not just commercial radio snobs either.

Now will.i.am (who produced Fergie's cheese plate The Duchess, and his own less successful solo disc, not mention collabs with Michael Jackson just before he died, and a widely seen video for the Obama campaign) finds himself with a tainted image and his own personal haters, thanks to the widely reported beatdown of Perez Hilton last month (okay, a lot of people probably love him for that one, even though it was his manager who allegedly carried out the attack) and charges of ripping off electronic group Freeland with the new banger, “Party All The Time,” not to be confused with the Eddie Murphy classic (hee-hee). Apparently Daft Punk had similar clearance issues with the guy several years ago on a remix.

For proof of the hostility, look no further than the comments section of this Youtube clip of Will spinning (under his DJ name Zuper Blahq) at Cinespace for Dim Mak's weekly party just this past Tuesday. He used to try to be anonymous by wearing a mask, but quickly gave that up. The crowd seem to be digging it, but they may be the usual faded followers. The commentators pretty much crucify him (“Will.I.Cant.Mix.For.Shit”), but does he deserve it?

We've covered the Peas several times in Nightranger, and we have to say, Will has never been the warmest the few times we attempted to chat with him. We were actually surprised and disappointed by his stand-off-ish-ness. Still, we continue to admire his work with inner city children via the Peapod Foundation, and have always given it up to the guy on showmanship. He can freestyle like nobody's business, too.

His DJ skills might be another story. You can see for yourself in person this Wednesday, when he makes another appearance behind the decks at BPM and Vapors mag's anniversary bash at Playhouse. Get on the list here.

Check out this Thursday's Nightranger for a report on Cinespace and its new nights.

LA Weekly