William James Adams, Jr. was born and raised in the projects of East Los Angeles. He never met his father, William Adams, Sr., and grew up with his mother, Debra. Adams' mother encouraged him to be unique and to avoid conforming to the tendencies of the other youth in his L.A. neighborhood. She also encouraged him to begin working on his musical career by sending him to school in Pacific Palisades. While attending Palisades Charter High School, Adams became best friends with Allan Lindo (stage name apl.de.ap), also a future member of the Black Eyed Peas. While still in high school, the duo performed in East L.A. clubs and were soon joined by three other entertainers to form the socially conscious rap group, Atban Klann. Atban Klann caught the eye of Compton rapper Eazy-E and was signed to his label, Ruthless Records, in 1992.
When William (will.i.am) was 16 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.
will.i.am was featured in 2004, singing "Secrets" on Dexter's Laboratory: The Hip-Hop Experiment for Dexter's Laboratory on Cartoon Network.will.i.am is featured in Flo Rida's debut album, Mail on Sunday, on the song "In The Ayer," and on Usher's album, Here I Stand, on the song, "What's Your Name."
In September 2007, will.i.am's record label Universal Music Group decided on a pilot scheme to reward file sharing with cash incentives, which included tracks from his latest solo album, Songs About Girls.
In 2008, will.i.am was hired by Michael Jackson to produce and remix some songs for the Thriller re-release, Thriller 25. Also in 2008, will.i.am contributed the song, "One People," to the Survival International charity album, Songs for Survival.
In 2009, will.i.am worked with rappers Flo Rida and Akon on Flo Rida's new album, R.O.O.T.S.. He co-created a boy group in 2007 called the Paradiso Girls, who are signed to Geffen/Interscope Records. The group debuted in 2009. will.i.am also recorded four tracks with Girls Aloud member Cheryl Cole for her debut solo album 3 Words. Two of these tracks were also released as singles, the title track and Heartbreaker. will.i.am. appears on two tracks, "Heaven" and "Boy Like You".
will.i.am appeared in the We Are the World 25 for Haiti music video. He is previewed in the video/song "OMG" (2010) by Usher.
He performed at the annual Electric Daisy Carnival in June 2010.
In 2010, will.i.am worked with Australian R&B and pop singer, Jessica Mauboy, on her upcoming album. It has been reported that he collaborated on a number of songs on the new album.
In a YouTube video posted by YGLifeOfficial on March 15, 2010, will.i.am expressed his desire to work with and help k-pop girl group 2NE1 achieve international success.
will.i.am is the man behind Zuper Blahq, a mysterious electro house artist, who has had one solo release and one collaboration with Steve Aoki on the single "I'm In The House," which charted at #29 on the UK Singles Chart. The music promo for this single was released September 2009, directed by James Sutton.