Will.i.am has joined the growing list of artists who have come to Michael Jackson's defense.
In the weeks since HBO aired Leaving Neverland, a two-part documentary that detailed Jackson's alleged sexual abuse on minors, calls for a King of Pop boycott have significantly increased, with some radio stations vowing to remove the late entertainer's music from rotation.
So, what does Will.i.am think of the #MuteJackson movement? He claims it's hypocritical.
The 44-year-old Black Eyed Peas member addressed the Jackson controversy and those who have chosen to stop playing his music. Will.i.am, who was one of the last artists to work with Jackson, criticized the boycotts with a Holocaust reference. He explained that the scandal presented a clear double standard: Why are some people held accountable for heinous crimes of the past, while others are not? Will.i.am specifically mentioned German firm Bayer, which he said made chemicals to "to kill all the Jews."
"We live in a very, very, very, very hypocritical, double-standard, fake society," the artist said, according to the Evening Standard. "I can name a thousand other products that we still buy, still use, that are owned by folks that have done the most horrendous things to people, millions of them, and we don't take their products from the market."
He continued: "Bayer is really responsible for chemicals that killed millions of people but they're headache medicine now. Are you going to ridicule them for their past? [...] Imagine every country that ever had slaves, people said never travel to those countries because of what they've done in the past. Are you not supposed to do anything with anyone who ever did anything ill in the past? England, Spain, Portugal. That's not that long ago. Are there reparations for everyone who's done something ill? I could name a thousand more ills that are worse but we're going to pull songs?"
Though he supports playing Jackson's music, Will.i.am said he wasn't completely certain that the artist was innocent.
"I'm torn, because that's not the Michael Jackson I loved and will always love," he said. "It is a smear campaign, there's been a number of smear campaigns in the past. If he did it, it's sad and inhumane. If he didn't, what's happening is sad, and inhumane."
You can read Will.i.am's full comments at the Evening Standard website. Bayer did not immediately respond to the publication's request for comment.