Though his resumé exhibits strong ties to cinema, performer will.i.am sustained his most enduring reputation as a music star, more specifically as one of the lead musicians and the producer of the pop-rap dance ensemble Black Eyed Peas. Born William Adams in March 1975, the native Angelino first delved into music amid the breakdancing craze of the mid- to late '80s and adopted the stage name will.i.am by cleverly punctuating his prename. He met musician apl.de.ap (Allan Pineda Lindo) in high school; the two forged an enduring friendship and a strong creative bond that guided them through the formation of the Tribal Nation breakdancing crew, the two-man music act Atban Klann, and -- eventually -- Black Eyed Peas. The latter initially caught fire thanks to the enthusiasm of the late rapper Eazy-E, who signed the ensemble to his Ruthless Records label and produced one of its earliest albums just before his death. The outfit endured a rocky start thanks to E's passing and Ruthless' uncertainty about how to handle the ensemble, but the Peas eventually attained enormous popularity thanks to the addition of MC Taboo and will.i.am's ingenious production efforts.
In time, will.i.am broke off on his own as a solo act; he also moved into films, initially by composing the score to the 2007 drama Freedom Writers. He continued to do soundtrack work and landed an acting assignment voicing the character of Moto Moto in the 2008 animated comedy Madagascar 2, then signed for the role of John Wraith in the mega-budgeted 2009 sequel X-Men Origins: Wolverine. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi