will.i.am has been making music since high school, where he teamed up with fellow classmate and breakdancer Apl de Ap to form Atban Klann. Signed to Easy E’s Ruthless Records in 1992, the duo’s debut was never released. In 1995, Taboo joined the group to form the Black Eyed Peas.
In 1998 the band’s debut ‘Behind the Front’ saw comparisons being made to Tribe Called Quest, before ‘Bridging the Gap’ established BEP in artists in there own right.
In 2001 BBE released will.i.am’s soundtrack to an internet movie, Lost Change, as part of their critically acclaimed ‘Beat Generation’ series. “I scored this film and I wanted more cats to hear it. I thought it would be perfect for the Beat Generation. I really liked Jay Dee’s ‘Welcome to Detroit’ so my manager got a hold of [BBE boss] Peter by looking up the address on the back and then, next thing you know, we had a show in Amsterdam so we went to his house”.
In the words of label owner Peter Adarkwah:
Will and his manager at the time had seen adverts in Source Magazine for the Beat Gen series and Will had just finished working on an album for a Levi’s ad campaign. Lost Change was the soundtrack. Black Eyed Peas were in Holland and they flew over to London for a day to discuss the album. At the time my apartment was being treated for subsidence and the place was a complete building site. We sat on the couch listening to music in the middle of builders shovelling tons of concrete through the living room to support the building from the rear. Great album and so different from where he is now musically but unfortunately its release date was 9/11 and it got lost in the mayhem of that unfortunate date.
On his solo project, will.i.am was given complete creative freedom and allowed to indulge his own musical passions. will.i.am doesn’t make the distinction between the thug-stylings of mainstream hip hop and the conscious rap of acts such as Jurassic 5 and Talib Kweli. “Creatively, hip hop is making a comeback. You have to be conscious to be into hip hop, even if you’re talking about materialism. That’s just wants on your conscience. Music is a conscious artform as you get the chance to express the things that you think about.”
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the cult series, Beat Generation, BBE are re-releasing “Lost Change” as expanded and limited edition, including all instrumentals.