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Will.I.Am, T-Pain Give Songwriting Lessons to Fans, Aspiring Musicians

Will.I.Am, T-Pain, Keri Hilson and Makeeba Riddick flexed their songwriting muscles as panelists for BMI’s annual ‘How I Wrote That’ event Saturday in Los Angeles. Held at the Key Club, fans and aspiring musicians were given the opportunity to learn from some of the best.

Black Eyed Peas front man Will.I.Am, talked about how he penned the song ‘Fergalicious’ for pop-diva and group member Fergie. Following the popularity of ‘My Humps’ Will wanted to write something simple yet catchy. The song, which samples J.J. Fad’s 1988 hit ‘Supersonic’ was a song Will grew up hearing.

“That song (the sample) represents my childhood,” he said recalling how the ice cream man would blast it in his East L.A. neighborhood. Once the music side was on lock Will thought of “dumb stuff” to write for the lyrics. The single quickly hit the top spot on Billboards Pop 100 charts for fourteen weeks.

Rapper turned “sanga” T-Pain was arguably the funniest of the bunch. The Tallahassee, Fla. native attributes his success as a songwriter to keeping it simple. “I work off of everything that people tell me, ” Pain said. This year alone T-Pain has had 17 hits on the Billboard charts both for himself and artists like Kanye West and Chris Brown. T-Pain takes credit for West’s new sound on ’808s & Heartbreak,’ and claims he “showed him how to use auto-tune.” His confidence now bubbling over, T-Pain revealed that as recent as two years ago it wasn’t easy to get a song on the radio. “People fear what they don’t know,” he said. “They didn’t know I was going to start this whole auto-tune epidemic.”

Atlanta native Keri Hilson has been all over the place these days after being behind the scenes for years. The 26-year-old is set to release her debut ‘In A Perfect World’ this year but paid more than her dues writing hits for Mary J. Blige, Omarion and Ludacris. Hilson, alongside her writing team The Clutch, has different writing tactics depending on the artist and gets inspired while doing things like driving in her car and not listening to music. The concept for Mary J. Blige’s ‘Take Me As I Am’ came to her while watching the media’s aversion to Blige’s happier disposition.

Hilson, who has been in the music industry for 12 years, said that her transition from songwriter to artist has been an interesting trek. Her career took a different direction after hooking up with super-producer Timothy “Timbaland.” He later signed her to his Mosley Music Group label, which is under the Interscope Records umbrella. Despite all her success Hilson made sure to remind the audience that the climb to the top should be a continuous battle. “You should feel like you never make it. It’s a constant grind.”

Now you may not know Makeeba Riddick by name or face, but you definitely know her music. She has worked with artist like Rihanna and Beyonce. Riddick wrote Rihanna’s verse on the T.I. collaboration ‘Live Your Life.’ She wrote the lyrics as a response to the “haters” who questioned her own move from the East Coast to Los Angeles. Riddick recalled sitting in the studio while the words ‘Got everybody watchin’ what I do. Come walk in my shoes and see the way I’m living if you really want to. Got my mind on my money and I ain’t goin’ away’ came to her mind.

The BMI event concluded with an impromptu appearance from Jim Johnson, who produced the beat for Lil Wayne’s ‘Lollipop,’ and audience questions. The inquiries covered networking and how to be patient when your music hasn’t quite become mainstream.

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