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Where is the love? Black Eyed Peas' label didn't like ‘Elephunk’

A decade after its successful release, Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am has revealed how the band's record label did not like some of the songs on their album "Elephunk," which went on to sell over nine million copies worldwide.

Representatives from A&M Records, owned by Universal Music Group, were apparently not too keen on songs such as "Shut Up," "Let's Get It Started" and "Where Is The Love?" The latter became the biggest-selling single of 2003 in the U.K.

"Well, 'Elephunk', the record company didn't think they were hits," will.i.am told CNBC Meets. "So that's when you go and you play the song for the record company like, 'Yo, check this song out. This is a little song I wrote called, "Let's Get It Started."'

The record company's response? "Well, we don't know. Well, maybe. Do you have anything else to play?"

(Read more: Will.i.am: Don't slam Simon Cowell)

(From left to right) Taboo, Will.I.Am, Fergie, and Apl.de.Ap of the Black Eyed Peas perform in New Jersey in 2005.
Scott Gries | Getty Images
(From left to right) Taboo, Will.I.Am, Fergie, and Apl.de.Ap of the Black Eyed Peas perform in New Jersey in 2005.

Will.i.am still pressed on with the music executives.

"Yeah I got this song called 'Where Is The Love." It's about the stuff that's going on in the world right now, post 9/11. Check it out."

After listening to the demo, the record label representatives said, according to will.i.am, "You know, why don't you go back to the studio and try to record some more songs?"

The Black Eyed Peas' first two albums - 1998's "Behind the Front" and 2000's "Bridging the Gap" - both missed the top 50 on the Billboard 200, which charts U.S.'s highest-selling music albums.

"Elephunk," which was released in 2003, marked the group's real break through, peaking at number 14 in the Billboard 200 and spending 106 weeks in the chart. Three of the tracks from the album entered Billboard's top 40 singles.

Will.i.am later teamed up with A&M/Interscope to form his own label, the will.i.am Music Group, under which he has produced albums by Fergie, Macy Gray and LMFAO.

When the record label was not pleased with what it heard from "Elephunk," will.i.am said, "Me and apl.de.ap were like, 'Look, dude. If this is going to be our last record, a lot of groups like us are getting dropped. Let's just make the kind of record we want to make; our record.' And so 'Elephunk' was our record."

CNBC Meets: will.i.am will air on Wednesday 11 September.

— By CNBC's Kiran Moodley. Follow him on Twitter @kirancmoodley

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    Wednesday 17 December 23:00 CET

    Saturday 20 December 23:30CET

    Sunday 21 December 18:00CET


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    Saturday 20 December 19:00 SIN/HK

    Sunday 21 December 07:00 & 20:00 SIN/HK

    Monday 22 December 04:00 SIN/HK


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    Saturday 20 December 19:00 AEST

    Sunday 21 December 07:00, 10:30, 17:00, 20:00 AEST

    Monday 22 Decmber 04:00, 08:00 AEST