William James Adams Jr. is known professionally as musician and entrepreneur will.i.am. He was born on March 15, 1975, in the Eastside section of Los Angeles, California, the son of William James Adams Sr. and Debra Cain, and was raised in the gang-infested Estrada Courts housing projects. He attended Brentwood Science Magnet School, Paul Revere Charter Middle School, took summer classes at John Marshall High School, and graduated from Palisades Charter High School in 1991.
Adams and classmate Allan Pineda began to perform together at raves and nightclubs in Los Angeles with fellow student Dante Santiago, and together formed the group Atban Klann, an acronym for A Tribe Beyond A Nation. The group caught the eye of rapper Eazy-E, who signed them to his record label, Ruthless Records, in 1992. After the death of Eazy-E, the group changed their name to The Black Eyed Pods, but in 1997 began using the name The Black Eyed Peas when they signed that year with Interscope Records. Over the next four years Adams gained mega stardom while working with The Black Eyed Peas, releasing eight albums, traveling the world, and winning numerous awards. He embarked on his solo career with his debut album Lost Change in 2001 with Atlantic Records. His second album, Must B 21, was released in 2003, and third album, Songs About Girls, was released in 2007. That album was certified gold in Poland three days before its release, selling over 500,000 pre-ordered copies. His fourth and final solo album, #willpower, was released in 2013.
Adams also developed an acting career, Adams lent his voice to the animated film Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008) as Moto Moto, made his major film debut as John Wraith in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), and as Pedro in the animated films Rio (2011) and Rio 2 (2014). He also lent his voice to several video games and made numerous appearances on television shows.
Branching into technology, Adams became the head of marketing for the online music company Musicane in 2006. He founded the i.am Angel Foundation in 2009, and made interplanetary history with the single “Reach for The Stars,” the first song ever played from NASA’s Curiosity rover from the planet Mars in 2012. Adams released his first wearable Puls cuff, a smartwatch in 2014, along with eye wear, ill.i Optics. The same year Adams became CEO of 3D Systems in South Carolina, and acquired Sensiya, a Tel Aviv, Israel tech company. His Ekocycle bicycle made with recycled materials was introduced in 2015 and his second smartwatch, AneedA, came to the market in 2016. Adams acquired Wink, a smart home platform in 2017, and along with author Brian David Johnson, released the children’s book WaR: Wizards and Robots in England in 2018. His facemask with Bluetooth by XUPERMASK was released in 2021.
Adams briefly attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in New York City and debuted his own clothing line, i.am+, in 2005. He is the recipient of a BMI President’s Award, an Emmy, A Clio Award, a Kids Choice Award, a Latin Grammy, seven American Grammy Awards, and ten Television Rack Awards. The Institute of Engineering and Technology awarded Adams an Honorary Fellowship in 2017 for his outstanding contributions to the engineering profession.