William James Adams is an American rapper, singer, actor, song-writer, hip-hop artist, music composer and record producer professionally known by his pseudonym will.i.am. He is the founding member of the ‘Black Eyed Peas’ group. will.i.am has also appeared as an actor in the role of John Wrath in the film X- Men Origins, given voice to the character Moto Moto in ‘Madagascar: Escape2 Africa’ and as the rapping red crested cardinal Pedro in the animated films ‘Rio’ and ‘Rio 2’. He contributed his voice for the ‘X- Men Origins: Wolverine’ video game. William is the recipient of seven Grammy Awards, one Latin Grammy, ten Television Rack and two Daytime Emmy Awards. He is also a record producer and has collaborated and produced music with stars like Usher, Ke$ha, Priyanka Chopra, Snoop Dogg, Cheryl Cole, Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Carlos Santana, Ricky Martin, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrusto name a few. William was born and raised single handedly by his mother in a ghetto and the family was heavily dependent on welfare funds. However, after gaining success for his music he moved his family out of the ghetto.
Childhood & Early Life
William James Adams Jr. was born on 15th March, 1975 in East Los Angeles, California, to William Adams Sr. and Debra (ne´e Cain). He grew up in the Estrada Courts housing projects in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles, California. They were the first families to live in this low- cost housing project.
Will.i.am and his three biological and adopted siblings were entirely raised by their mother as his father had abandoned the family. He, thus, recalls nothing of his father who he has never met.
He was among few African-Americans living in primarily Hispanic Latino vicinity. However, William states that nobody dared to trouble his family because of his grandma who was adored by all in the neighborhood and prayed for everyone’s well being. William’s mother advised him not to follow the behavior of the youth in their locality.
Will.i.am has stated that living in such a dreary and inhospitable surroundings, he found peace only through his music. His mother was very supportive of his passion for music so she sent him to private schools in West Los Angeles.
He began his musical career when he was 8th grader in John Marshall High school and in the summer of 1987 he, along with fellow rapper and singer Allan Pineda (popularly known as apl.de.ap), started to perform in East L.A. clubs.
Later, they were joined by fellow classmate, Dante Santiago, and formed the Atban Klann hip-hop group (A Tribe Beyond a Nation). They caught the attention of rapper/ entrepreneur Eazy E (the Godfather of Gangsta rap) who signed them to his ‘Ruthless Records’ label in 1992. At that time William was known as Will 1 X.
They released a single ‘Puddles of H2O’ from the album Grass Roots in 1994 however, due to Eazy-E’s death they were terminated from the label.
William used to attend rave parties during high school and developed a liking for this genre of music and this was the main reason why he chose a more electro sound for 'The Black Eyed Peas' albums titled ‘The E. N. D’ and ‘The Beginning’.
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Will.i.am & the Black Eyed Peas
William modified their group’s name to 'Black Eyed Pods' and later in 1997 to 'The Black Eyed Peas' which at that time comprised of will.i.am, aple.de.ap and Taboo. Immediately after getting signed in by Interscope Records, they released their debut album ‘Behind the Front’ in 1998 with its debut single ‘Joints & Jam’.This album got appreciated and entertainers like Rolling Stones loved the ‘alterna-rap’ style of music.
The group released their second album ‘Bridging the Gap’ in 2000 and the single ‘Request+Line’ featuring Macy Gray became their first entryon Billboards Hot 100.
The Peas next album was ‘Elephunk’ in 2003 with hit songs like ‘Boom Boom Pow’, ‘Let’s Get It Started’ and ‘I Gotta Feeling’. The first single titled ‘Where Is The Love’ with Justin Timberlake, released in 2002, got 8th position on the US Billboard Hot 100 and became the highest selling single in UK of that year.
Will suggested that including a female artist in the group would elevate their prospects and hence, Fergie was signed as a permanent member of the group after replacing Nicole Scherzinger (their first choice). The song ‘Shut Up’ and ‘My Humps’of ‘Elephunk’ with her voice went viral. This album got 14th position on Billboard Top 200 and 3rd on UK Album Charts and till date has sold over 8.5 million copies worldwide and over 1.6 million alone in UK.
They next released three albums - ‘Monkey Business’(2005),The End (2009) and The Beginning (2010). 'Monkey Business' got three times Platinum certification by the RIAA and has sold over 10 million copies as of now and the Peas won Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo for the song ‘Don’t Funk with My Heart’ from Monkey Business.
Willam released four studio albums - ‘Lost Change’ (2001), ‘Must B 21 (2003), Songs About Girls (2007) and #will power (2013). His third album got 9th position in the US Rap charts and the single ‘I Got It from My Mamma reached 31st position Billboard Hot 100 and 19th in Australia charts. This album included hit songs like ‘Heartbreaker’ and ‘One More Chance’.
His album #willpower reached 3rd position on UK charts and received Gold (BPI) and Platinum (RMNZ) certification. The single ‘T.H.E (The Hardest Ever)’ featuring Jennifer Lopez and Mick Jagger got 36th position on Billboard Hot 100. The other singles ‘This Is Love’, featuring Eva Simons, and ‘That Power’, featuring Justin Bieber, reached 1st and 2nd position on UK charts and also got Platinum and Gold certifications. The single ‘Scream & Shout’ collaboration with Britney Spears got seven Platinum certifications.
William is working on his next album ‘Songs About Partying’ to be released by 2018.
Personal Life & Legacy
William has kept his personal life very private hence there is no information about his sexual orientation or relationships.
Will.i.am has an estimated net worth of $ 75 million as of 2017. He lives in a mansion in Los Angeles whose estimated cost is $ 2.75 million and owns cars like McLaren MP4, Bentley Continental GT, Corvette, Tesla Roadster etc.
William stated in 2013 that he suffers from ADHD syndrome.
He studied in the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles, and later even took classes there. He has collaborated with Coca-Cola, Ekocycle to recycle plastic bottles into garments, bikes etc.
He has his own signature line of clothing i.am which featured at Magic Apparel Trade Show in Las Vegas.
William has been a mentor on The Voice UK and The Voice Australia.
He stepped into politics as he helped in the promotion process of Obama’s elections.