Best known as the leader of the Black Eyed Peas, will.i.am (the stylized name of William James Adams Jr.) also did notable work outside his group. He grew up in a mostly Hispanic part of Los Angeles, and began rapping with high school friend Allan Pineda. Their first group, Atban Klann, caught the attention of N.W.A. member Eazy-E who released their track, "Merry Mutha----in' Xmas," on one of his own albums. The Black Eyed Peas-originally Adams, Pineda and Jamie (Taboo) Gomez-were christened in 1997 and debuted the following year with Behind the Front. Sampling freely from vintage R&B, the group presented an alternative to the gangsta movement, even belittling the stance of hardcore DJ's. But major commercial success had to wait until the addition of frontwoman Fergie and the 2003 release of Elephunk. With a guest shot by Justin Timberlake, "Where is the Love" was the first of its three hit singles, and the followup album Monkey Business did even better, producing four singles including one of 2005's biggest hip-hop hits, "My Humps," powered by an innuendo-filled dialogue between will.i.am and Fergie. The next two years would find the Black Eyed Peas on hiatus while will.i.am became ubiquitous as a writer/producer, overseeing Fergie's solo debut The Dutchess along with tracks by John Legend, the Game and Macy Grey. During this time he also worked with Michael Jackson, though none of the tracks saw release. Will's mainstream solo debut, Songs About Girls, featured a host of guests and material that lived up to the title, dealing with a recently-ended relationship and sometimes continuing the raunchy mood of "My Humps." On a different note, he oversaw a compilation album Change is Now: Renewing America's Promise to tie in with Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration; the disc featured Stevie Wonder, Wilco and samples of Obama himself. During Obama's campaign Will also appeared on CNN demonstrating hologram technology, a clip that quickly went viral. The Black Eyed Peas regrouped in 2009 and ruled the charts that year, releasing three Number One singles ("Boom Boom Pow," "I Gotta Feeling" and "Imma Be") before following them up with an album, The E.N.D. (Energy Never Dies). Will's solo success continued with 2013's #willpower, another star-studded affair that included pop figures Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus, this time putting the party-themed material upfront. He also continued high-profile collaborations, coproducing Britney Spears' Britney Jean and duetting with her on "It Should Be Easy." After another hiatus the Black Eyed Peas returned with 2018's Masters of the Run, a politically-themed album that takes on racism and police brutality. It did not include Fergie, who announced her departure in February 2018.
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Formed Black Eyed Peas
Added Fergie to Black Eyed Peas
Launched string of productions with U2, Michael Jackson, Fergie and others
Released breakthrough album <i>Monkey Business</i>
Produced all-star album for Obama inauguration
Topped pop charts with "Boom Boom Pow"
Played Super Bowl halftime
Black Eyed Peas returned as trio with <i>Masters of the Sun</i>