William James Adams Jr. (born March 15, 1975), better known as will.i.am, is an American hip-hop and pop musician and founding member of the Black Eyed Peas. Adams is of Jamaican descent and has rapped since his teenage years. Along with co-writing many of the Peas' hit songs, he's also had a solo career featuring multiple top 20 hit singles as well as collaborations with various artists such as Mick Jagger and Britney Spears among many others.
When William was sixteen years old, he started rapping in late 1991 under the name "Will-1X" after being discovered by Compton rapper and former N.W.A. leader Eazy-E and signed a deal to Eazy's Ruthless Records. will.i.am's first rap song was "Merry Muthafuckin' Xmas" from Eazy-E's 1992 EP 5150: Home 4 tha Sick. Shortly after Eazy-E's death in 1995, Will left Ruthless to start a group that would later be called the Black Eyed Peas with fellow rappers Taboo and apl.de.ap.
After the addition of singer-songwriter Fergie, the group shot into mainstream pop consciousness with a set of hit singles in the mid-00s, popularity that continues to this day. The Black Eyed Peas' producer is Sergio Mendes, an internationally successful Brazilian musician and jazz aficionado. In September 2007, will.i.am took a major step into a solo career identity by joining with his record label, Universal Music Group (UMG), on a pilot scheme to reward certain file-sharing with cash incentives, including will.i.am tracks from his then upcoming release Songs About Girls.
In total, he has released four solo albums: Lost Change (2001), Must B 21 (2003), Songs About Girls (2007), and #willpower (2013). Although often facing mixed critical reviews, he's experienced significant commercial success, including a set of popular singles. His solo performances, featuring collaborations with a wide group of artists including Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Phife Dawg, Snoop Dogg, and Nicole Scherzinger, are perhaps best summed up in the international top 20 mega-hit "Scream & Shout".
Will.i.am was also recently cast as John Wraith in the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a prequel to the X-Men movie series. And if one enjoyed Madagascar 2's chunky hippo, Moto Moto, then one should know that the deep voice belonged will.i.am., who came in after he was ''pimped'' out to the directors by his friend and sometimes collaborator Justin Timberlake.
Before joining the Black Eyed Peas, Will.i.am attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles. In 2001, he began designing his own signature clothing line, i.am, which made its official debut in 2005 at the Magic apparel trade show in Las Vegas. In 2007, Will.i.am teamed up with Blue Holdings to design a premium denim collection, i.am Antik, that had its debut on the Project Show in Las Vegas. He has also designed clothing for the Black Eyed Peas.
In January 2008, will.i.am helped write a song, "Yes We Can", in support of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign of Barack Obama, which in turn became a music video directed by Jesse Dylan. The lyrics of the song are composed almost entirely of excerpts from Obama's speech on January 8, 2008, following the New Hampshire presidential primary election. The video features appearances from numerous celebrities like Scarlett Johansson, Tatyana Ali, John Legend, Herbie Hancock, Kate Walsh, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Adam Rodriguez, Kelly Hu, Hill Harper, Amber Valletta, Eric Balfour, Aisha Tyler, Nicole Scherzinger, Nick Cannon, Bryan Greenberg, Common and first appeared on the website for Dipdive, and within a week of its appearance racked up three million views, and over four million views on Youtube.
On February 29, 2008, a second video titled "We Are The Ones" was released on Dipdive and YouTube. It included cameo appearances from Jessica Alba, Ryan Phillippe, Kerry Washington, John Leguizamo, Regina King, Tyrese Gibson, Eric Mabius, Tichina Arnold, Adrienne Palicki, comedian George Lopez, and singers Macy Gray, Zoe Kravitz and Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo. The video features everyone chanting "O-BA-MA" as a portrayal as their hopes and wishes for Obama and his presidential campaign.