Hip hop musician will.i.am first entered the music scene with a group called "Atban Klann.” He was shot to fame as the founding member and frontman of the Grammy-winning group “Black Eyed Peas,” with whom he has released five albums and created such smash hit singles as "Where Is the Love?" (featuring Justin Timberlake; 2003), "Shut Up" (2003), "Don't Phunk With My Heart" (2005), "Don't Lie" (2005) and "My Humps" (2005).
will.i.am released three solo albums titled "Lost Change" (2001), "Must B 21" (2003) and "Songs About Girls" (2007), which spawned the singles "I Got It from My Mama," "One More Chance" and "Heartbreaker." Additionally, will.i.am, who has his own label, has written, been featured in and has produced a number of other artists' projects. He most recently wrote a song called "Yes We Can" in support of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign of Barack Obama.
"Music is music. Beats are beats. People love music. People don't really love poetry; they love music right now. It's the same in hip-hop. You can have a dope-a** beat and then have somebody talking about testicles. Everybody's still going to like that beat. And then you can take the same beat and have somebody who's talking about some stuff that we all need to hear. Even though people love music, they're not really checking for poetry or for the lyrics like maybe they should. And that's why you have a lot of dumb s*** on the radio." will.i.am
Additionally, will.i.am has his own clothing line called "i.am." The 5' 9½" African-American is also branching out to acting and will provide his voice in the upcoming 2008 sequel to the 2005 film, "Madagascar," "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa." He will also portray the teleporting mutant John Wraith/Kestrel in the upcoming film “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” directed by Gavin Hood.
Mr. Voodoo Thursday
Childhood and Family:
On March 15, 1975, William James Adams, Jr., who would be better known by his stage name will.i.am, was born in Los Angeles, California. His nickname is Mr. Voodoo Thursday.
I Got It from My Mama
While attending high school in the late '80s, will.i.am and apl.de.ap (born Allan Pineda) began rapping and performing together around Los Angeles. Their performances caught the eye of the nephew of Jerry Heller, the manager of late rapper Eazy-E, who run Ruthless Records.
The duo was signed to Ruthless Records in 1992 and made their debut on Eazy-E's EP, "5150: Home 4 tha Sick" on the track titled "Merry Muthaphuckkin' Xmas." Along with Mookie Mook (Burning Star), and Dante Santiago & DJ Motiv8, they created a new group called "Atban Klann" and recorded their debut album, "Grass Roots." Scheduled to be released on October 6, 1992, the album was shelved shortly before its release. It would later be released on the internet.
In 1995, Eazy-E died of AIDS and the group was dropped from Ruthless that same year. will.i.am, who used the name Will 1X during this time, subsequently changed to his present stage name. "Atban Klann" replaced member Mookie with Dante Santiago and they added Taboo to the group. The group later changed their name to “Black Eyed Peas.”
After performing regularly on the local club circuit during the mid-'90s, "Black Eyed Peas" signed to Interscope Records and released their critically-acclaimed debut album in 1998, "Behind the Front," which featured the single "Joints & Jams.” In 2000, they released their follow-up album, “Bridging the Gap,” which spawned the single "Request + Line," featuring Macy Gray.
will.i.am became the first member of "The Black Eyed Peas" to create a solo album when he released his first compilation album, "Lost Change," on October 2, 2001. It is a part of BBE's Beat Generation series, along with J Dilla's Welcome 2 Detroit, Marley Marl's Re-Entry, Pete Rock's PeteStrumentals, and DJ Jazzy Jeff's The Magnificent.
After the release of the Black Eyed Peas’ commercially successful third album featuring their new female vocalist Stacy Ferguson (a.k.a. Fergie), "Elephunk," which yielded the hit singles "Where Is the Love," "Shut Up," "Hey Mama," and "Let's Get It Started," will.i.am released his second compilation album, "Must B 21," on September 23, 2003.
"'Must B 21' is my interpretation of the raw, authentic hip hop I fell in love with between 1989-1994. We wanted to make a hip-hop club record, something fun, nothing too deep. Its pretty much just beats with my favorite MCs on it. 'Must B 21' all happened in my studio in LA in the last week of May. I said to the MCs, 'I've got an opportunity for you guys to make some loot and I want you guys to be on this record with me.' So they all came. I didn't think people were going to respond like that! They were there all at once - Tash from the Licks, Phife Dawg [from Tribe Called Quest], Planet Asia. You don't understand how smokey my room was!" will.i.am
On June 7, 2005, "Black Eyed Peas" released their fourth album and their most successful album to date, "Monkey Business," which spun off the smash hit singles "Don't Phunk With My Heart," "Don't Lie," "My Humps," and "Pump It." It has sold over nine million units worldwide and was certified triple platinum by RIAA in the U.S. The album's tracks earned four 2006 Grammy Award nominations and won Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group for “Don't Phunk With My Heart.” They also won "Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal" at the 2007 Grammy Awards for “My Humps.”
On “Black Eyed Peas” having a diverse fan base, will.i.am commented, “I think it's because we all listen to different types of s*** and our audience is a reflection of that. I think the audience is a reflection of the sort of music we like.”
"Songs about Girls," will.i.am's semi-autobiographical conceptual album, was released on September 21-25, 2007, under A&M Records. The lead single, "I Got It From My Mama," debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #93 on August 17, 2007, but climbed 36 places to number 57 in the following week and ultimately peaked at #31.
Meanwhile, will.i.am has been featured and/or produced other artists' songs, including Carlos Santana's "I Am Somebody," John Legend's "Ordinary People," Pussycat Dolls' "Beep," the "Hitch" original soundtrack "Don't You Worry Bout a Thing," Mary J. Blige's "About You," Shaggy's "Shut Up and Dance," Ricky Martin's "Drop It on Me," Busta Rhymes' "I Love My Chick," Justin Timberlake "Damn Girl" and "Pose," Fergie's "Fergalicious," "Big Girls Don't Cry," Diddy's "Special Feeling" and "All Night Long," John Legend's "Save Room," The Game's "Compton," Ciara's "Do It" and "Get In, Fit In," Nas' "Hip Hop Is Dead" and "Can't Forget About You," Freedom Writers Original Soundtrack "A Dream” and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's "Streets," among others.
As a member of "Black Eyed Peas," he will release a new album called "The E.N.D. (The Energy Never Dies)," while as a solo artist, he will release an upcoming solo album titled "Black Einstein."
In early 2008, will.i.am wrote a song called "Yes We Can" in support of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign of Barack Obama. It became a music video directed by Jesse Dylan and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding New Approaches - Daytime Entertainment in 2008.
The second video, "We Are the Ones," was released on Dipdive and YouTube in February 2008. It features cameo appearances from Jessica Alba, Ryan Phillippe, Kerry Washington, John Leguizamo, Regina King, Tyrese Gibson, Eric Mabius, Tichina Arnold, Adrianne Palicki, comedian George Lopez, and singers Macy Gray, Zoe Kravitz and Black Eyed Peas' Taboo.
will.i.am also has his own clothing line called "i.am," which made its official debut in 2005. In 2007, he teamed up with Blue Holdings to design a premium denim collection, "i.am Antik." Additionally, he was recently cast to voice Moto Moto in the upcoming 2008 sequel to the 2005 film, "Madagascar," "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," and will play John Wraith/Kestrel in the upcoming “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” directed by Gavin Hood and starring Hugh Jackman as the title character.
Emmy: Outstanding New Approaches - Daytime Entertainment, "Yes We Can" (Video), 2008
Grammy: Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group, "My Humps," 2007
Grammy: Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, "Don't Phunk with My Heart," 2006
Grammy: Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, "Let's Get It Started," 2005
BMI Film & TV: BMI TV Music Award, "Joey," 2005