It might not be at the top of your mind or the tip of your tongue, but it wasn’t long ago when The Black Eyed Peas were pumping out hit after hit. Led by the rapper and producer will.i.am, the group was a major force in the early 2000s.
The group’s lead man, born William James Adams Jr., is a multi-time Grammy Award winner who has also released four solo albums. As a producer, will.i.am has worked with Justin Bieber, Kesha, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, U2, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Nicki Minaj, and more.
As a songwriter, he’s written dozens of songs, from underground rap hits to pop culture phenomena. But what songs did will.i.am write for others who made them famous? Well, let’s find out.
1. – 2. “Clumsy” and “Here I Come” by Fergie
“Clumsy” written by will.i.am., Stacy Ferguson, and Bobby Troup
“Here I Come” written by will.i.am., Stacy Ferguson, William Robinson Jr.
Fergie joined the Black Eyed Peas in the early 2000s and the band transformed from an underground rap group to a pop sensation. As such, will.i.am and the hip-shaking vocalist Fergie have worked extensively together, including many songs the BEP frontman featured on.
Two tracks that he helped write are “Clumsy” and “Here I Come,” from Fergie’s 2006 album, The Dutchess. will.i.am, who also co-wrote the Fergie song, “Glamorous,” which features Ludacris, is credited with producing almost the entirety of the 2007 record. He also had a hand, though a smaller one, in her 2017 sophomore LP, Double Dutchess.
3. “American Boy” by Estelle
Written by Estelle, Kanye West, Ethan Hendrickson, will.i.am, John Legend, Josh Lopez, Caleb Speir, and Keith Harris
You know the song. It was everywhere on the radio for about two years. British singer Estelle and Kanye West flirting. “American Boy” was a hit in 2008 on Estelle’s album, Shine. The song was written by Estelle and West, along with Ethan Hendrickson, will.i.am and John Legend, who sings the background vocals. Josh Lopez, Caleb Speir, and Keith Harris also helped write the tune. It was produced by will.i.am and uses the instrumental from his song “Impatient,” from his third studio LP, Songs About Girls, from 2007.
4. – 5. “Ordinary People” and “She Don’t Have To Know” by John Legend
“Ordinary People” written by John Stevens and will.i.am.
“She Don’t Have to Know” written by will.i.am., John Legend, Sylvester Stewart
For the great crooner John Legend, will.i.am worked on a pair of songs for Legend’s first two albums, Get Lifted and Once Again. On Get Lifted, will.i.am is credited with working on the seminal heartfelt song, “Ordinary People,” and the hit percussive, “She Don’t Have To Know.”
6. “Ghetto Love” by Macy Gray
Written by will.i.am, Betty Jean Newsome, James Brown, Macy Gray, Mike Shapiro, Teedra Moses
As a producer, will.i.am had a big hand in Macy Gray’s 2007 album, Big. He is credited as a producer on 9 of the 12 tracks and a featured vocalist on the song, “Treat Me Like Your Money.” But he is also credited as a co-writer of the tremendous song, “Ghetto Love,” a call to action and lightning strike that samples James Brown.
7. “Crazy Kids” by Kesha
Written by will.i.am, Dr. Luke, Kesha, Benny Blanco and Cirkut.
The 2013 song, “Crazy Kids,” was recorded and released by the pop star Kesha on her album, Warrior. It was written by will.i.am, Dr. Luke, Kesha, Benny Blanco and Cirkut. A remix was later released with Pitbull. The song features whistling and is in the technopop and trance genre. The song also features will.i.am. It’s an epic rallying cry.
8. – 11. “Work Bitch,” “Til It’s Gone,” “Don’t Cry” and “Chillin’ With You” by Britney Spears
“Work Bitch” written by Spears, will.i.am, Otto Knows, Sebastian Ingrosso, Anthony Preston, and Ruth-Anne Cunningham
“Til It’s Gone” written by Giorgio Tuinfort, Antony Preston, Britney Spears, Jenson Vaughan, Rosette Sharma, David Guetta, and will.i.am.
“Don’t Cry” written by Britney Spears, Joshua Lopez, Richard D. Gonzalez, will. i. am.
“Chillin’ With You” written by Anthony Preston, Britney Spears, Emily Meredith Wright, Joshua Matthew Lopez, Keith Ernesto Harris, Lance Tolbert, and will. i. am.
will.i.am helped to write a whopping four songs for the Princess of Pop’s 2013 album, Britney Jean. The tracks, the heart-pounding “Work Bitch,” the emotive “Til It’s Gone,” the acoustic-driven “Don’t Cry” and the familial “Chillin’ With You” (featuring her sister Jamie Lynn), encompass forty percent of the record. And will.i.am also helped with one of the tracks on the deluxe album, the epic “Now That I Found You.”
On each of the songs above, the rapper-producer was one of several co-writers on the tracks. Bringing his knack for the pop zeitgeist at the time and his versatility as a hip-hop aficionado and pop connoisseur, will.i.am collaborated with writers like Ruth-Anne Cunningham, Otto Knows, Anthony Preston, Rosette Sharma, David Guetta, Giorgio Tuinfort, Jenson Vaughan, Richard Vission, Josh Lopez, Emily Warren, and Keith Harris.
12. – 13. “Who Killed It?” and “Can’t Forget About You” by Nas
“Who Killed It?” written by will.i.am., Salaam Remi, and Nas
“Can’t Forget About You” written by Nas, will.i.am., and Chrisette Michele.
The Black Eyed Peas frontman helped pen two songs for the Queens Bridge rapper, Nas, on the artist’s 2006 classic album, Hip Hop Is Dead. Working with Salaam Remi and Nas, will.i.am co-wrote the sixth track on the album “Who Killed It?” which is one of Nas’ best songs of the past 25 years. He also co-wrote the 14th song, “Can’t Forget About You,” with Nas and talented vocalist Chrisette Michele.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio