Full Name: William James Adams Jr.
Birthday: March 15, 1975 (age 48)
Birthplace: Los Angeles, CA
Height: 5‘ 9"
Genres: Hip hop, R&B, dance, pop
First Album: Lost Change (2001)
Groups: Black Eyed Peas (since 1995)
Record Labels: Interscope, will.i.am Music Group
Over his 20+ year career, will.i.am has made an immense impact as a musician, producer, entrepreneur and activist. He‘s pioneered new sounds that have shaped both hip hop and pop, while also leading innovative tech ventures. As a founding member of Black Eyed Peas and through eclectic solo work, he has carved out a unique lane blending genres and transcending stylistic boundaries.
From Humble Beginnings to Hip Hop Prominence
Born in East Los Angeles, will.i.am endured a difficult upbringing in the Estrada Courts housing projects surrounded by poverty and gang violence. Music provided an escape, and he immersed himself in acts ranging from Grandmaster Flash to Prince. Will met his future Black Eyed Peas co-founders apl.de.ap and Taboo while attending high school in the early 1990s.
After forming as an underground hip hop crew, the group signed to Eazy-E‘s Ruthless Records but tensions led their debut album to be shelved. Undeterred, they refocused under the name Black Eyed Peas and began building a buzz with their energized live shows around LA. Though their first two albums fared poorly, the Peas persisted and evolved their sound.
The 2003 release Elephunk proved to be the turning point, catapulting the group into the mainstream on the strength of hits like "Where is the Love?" and "Let‘s Get it Started." Their fusion of hip hop with pop-rock, dance and electronic styles resonated widely, selling over 14 million copies worldwide. will.i.am‘s ingenious production and songwriting played a key role in this breakthrough success.
Solo Success and Diverse Collaborations
Concurrently with the Black Eyed Peas‘ ascent, will.i.am also developed a formidable solo career, collaborating across genres with acts from Nas to Justin Bieber. Debut album Lost Change emphasized club beats, but he found a true pop breakthrough on 2007‘s Songs About Girls.
Spawning the charismatic single "I Got it From My Mama," the album blended hip hop swagger with electro-pop futurism and established him as a charismatic frontman. He continued evolving this dance-oriented sound on smash hits like "Scream & Shout" (featuring Britney Spears), "T.H.E (The Hardest Ever)" and aptly titled self-empowerment anthem "This Is Love."
Never one to stay musically complacent, will.i.am also explored new directions like country-pop fusion "Great Times Are Coming" featuring Blake Shelton and the gritty rock/rap collaboration "Bang Bang" with Slash. Throughout his solo work, innovative diversity remains the only constant.
Renaissance Man of Tech and Business
Beyond music, will.i.am has embraced ventures in technology, social activism and more. Always an early adopter, he advocated using ringtones to distribute songs years before iTunes. He developed iPhone accessories for DJs and music creators long before tech companies focused on mobile.
Bringing his creative vision to the tech sector, will.i.am founded consumer electronics firm i.am+ in 2012. They‘ve released several sleek devices including the Dial smartwatch and Buttons wireless earbuds. He also serves as Creative Director at chipmaker Intel and explored AI-generated music through collaborations with Salesforce and other companies.
Giving back through education initiatives has been another priority. Will‘s i.am.angel Foundation operates STEAM programs focused on science, tech, engineering, arts and math. He actively volunteers to mentor disadvantaged youth and encourage their creativity.
Lasting Legacy Across Music
With 8 Grammy wins and smash hits in both the hip hop and pop realms, will.i.am has carved out a singular place in 21st century music. He‘s helped hip hop evolve while also pushing pop into new stylistic territory through his experimental, boundary-less production style. From "I Gotta Feeling" to "Scream and Shout" and countless more, his songs have provided the soundtrack for millions of fans‘ lives.
Though originating from humble beginnings in LA‘s projects, will.i.am ultimately rose to global stardom on his own uncompromising creative vision. His relentless drive to innovate has disrupted both the music and technology spaces over the past 20+ years. Through it all, he remains a down-to-earth guy committed to helping youth dreams blossom as his own once did. There‘s no telling what this visionary pioneer might accomplish next!