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will.i.am

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will.i.am

will.i.am

Photo by MJ Kim / Getty Images

will.i.am's Early Life:

William James Adams was born March 15, 1975 in the Boyle Heights projects of Los Angeles, California. Although he was born to Jamaican parents, Will’s father was never around. His mother, however, encouraged him to be unique and avoid conforming to the tendencies of the other youth of the L.A. ghetto. By the time Will began high school, he was already working on a musical career.

Early Career:

In high school, Will became best friends with Allan Lindo, AKA fellow Black Eyed Peas member apl.de.ap. The two formed a unique bond, and soon began performing at East L.A. clubs. Will would rap while apl.de.ap break-danced. Another friend of Will joined the entertainers to form the socially conscious rap group Atban Klann. The trio eventually caught the eye of the famous Compton rapper Eazy-E and was signed to his label, Ruthless Records.

Quote from will.i.am:

On the mission of Black Eyed Peas from an interview in Blender magazine:

“We give people the tools to feel better about their lives when it’s all messed up and you don’t know what you’re going to do with your life.”

From Atban Klann to Black Eyed Peas:

A few year’s after Atban Klann’s formation, the group found itself without a label following the death of Eazy-E. After the exit of band mate Mookie, Will invited fellow club patron Taboo to join the band, which soon changed its name to the Black Eyed Peas. The group’s wild hair and “rhymes of the times” quickly made them underground rap favorites. However, their 1998 debut Behind The Front, and the follow-up Bridging The Gap sold quite poorly.

Trivia Fact About will.i.am:

When he was a child, Will’s mother would not let him join games with other children. Instead, she would have Will create a game in order to get the kids to come play with him.

Black Eyed Peas Become Pop Superstars:

Will.i.am decided to get serious after the failure of the group’s first two albums. He realized the Black Eyed Peas needed a female voice, and Stacey "Fergie" Ferguson was added to the band. The 9/11 terror attacks inspired Will to pen the track, “Where Is The Love?” which went on to become one of radios most played songs of 2003, and helped their album Elephunk sell over 2 million copies. The Peas’ 2005 follow-up, Monkey Business was even more successful, spawning top ten hits such as “Don’t Phunk With My Heart” and “My Humps.”

Production Work and Solo Career:

Rapping is not the only contribution Will.i.am has made to the Black Eyed Peas. He also handled most of the production work on the group’s most recent disks. This helped the artist receive a good deal of attention from acts like Justin Timberlake, Busta Rhymes, and John Legend, all of whom had Will produce tracks each of their recent albums. Most notably, however, Will took care of most of the production for Fergie’s smash debut solo album The Dutchess. In particular, he helped his fellow Black Eyed Pea band mate top the pop singles chart with the hit “Fergalicious.”

Despite all this success, will.i.am was a bit shocked when music industry figures recently suggested he consider more solo work. After all, the artist previously released solo sets in both 2001 and 2003, both of which underperformed in sales. Will questioned as to why his label would not rather have a new Black Eyed Peas album. Nonetheless, his first solo album in four years, Songs About Girls, is in the works and set for a late September 2007 release. The album was preceded by lead single “I Got It From My Mama.”

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