Peering into the studio, where the alchemy of beats and rhymes coalesce, one could argue that Will.i.am, the maestro of the blending board, has been a formidable force in shaping the sonic contours of the 21st-century pop soundscape. Transitioning from the Black Eyed Peas’ frontman to a solo artist and producer extraordinaire, Will.i.am’s discography is a testament to his experimental verve and his unfettered embrace of futurism in music.
His solo journey kicked off with “Lost Change,” an album that doubled as an auditory canvas, painting beats with the same impulsive genius as a Basquiat scribble. Will.i.am’s “Lost Change” was not just an album but a statement of intent, a departure into a realm where hip-hop meets an eclectic mix of genres. Celebrating its resonance a decade later, “Lost Change 10th Anniversary Expanded & Limited Edition” served as a remastered hat-tip to its own ingenuity, a rare move in the pop universe.
The narrative thread of his works, adorned with albums like “Must B 21 (Soundtrack to Get Things Started),” showed Will.i.am’s readiness to blur boundaries, his music a fluid agent always in motion, always evolving. With “Songs About Girls,” he chiseled out a concept album teeming with stories of love and loss tailored to the groove of the times.
Yet, it was with “#willpower (Deluxe)” – an album punctuated with star-studded collaborations and thumping anthems – that Will.i.am grafted his vision firmly onto the map of global pop culture. This energized collection of tracks laid down the gauntlet, reaffirming his knack for crafting hits that resonate with the pulse of the mainstream.
So let’s get into it. From the experimental sketches of his early work to the polished hits that have commandeered airwaves, here are will.i.am’s albums ranked.
7. Lost Change Instrumentals ( 2001 )
“Lost Change Instrumentals,” dropped in 2001, stands as a testament to will.i.am’s wizardry behind the mixing boards before the Black Eyed Peas exploded into the stratosphere of pop music superstardom. This record is akin to a sonic playground where will.i.am flexes his production muscles, offering a vision of what pop could—and eventually did—sound like when touched by his inventive spirit. It’s a gritty, unpolished gem that captures a moment of experimentation, with will.i.am fusing hip-hop, funk, and a kaleidoscope of world beats. The absence of lyrics on this joint allows aficionados to savor every beat drop and bass line, appreciating the pure craftsmanship that went into the creation of these tracks. It showcases an emerging maestro, reveling in the raw process of making music that feels both spontaneous and meticulously engineered. “Lost Change Instrumentals” encapsulates a young will.i.am: bold, innovative, and poised to flip the script on the pop scene.
6. Lost Change 10th Anniversary Expanded & Limited Edition ( 2012 )
Released in 2012, this edition is a love letter to the fans who’ve ridden with will.i.am from the jump, spiced up with extras that give a fresh perspective on his early solo work. This isn’t just the same album you’ve heard before. It’s been beefed up, studded with additional tracks that didn’t make the original cut, giving a peek into the surplus creativity that was flowing at the time. It’s a significant piece that not only commemorates will.i.am’s progress but also shows the seeds of his experimental vigor that would bloom into the sonic juggernaut we recognize today. This record serves as a bridge, connecting the past to the future, and it’s a crucial pick for those who want to understand the evolution of a pop maestro. It’s will.i.am uncut, adding layers to the narrative of a musical architect who’s always had an ear bent towards the future of the beat.
5. Lost Change ( 2001 )
This album is far from the radio-ready bangers that would later become his signature with the Black Eyed Peas. Instead, “Lost Change” is a grainy, introspective collage of hip-hop, jazz, and funk influences that crackles with the enthusiasm of an artist exploring his craft without the looming pressure of commercial success. Dropping into a post-millennium landscape where pop was king and hip-hop was flexing its mainstream muscles, will.i.am chose to zig when everyone else zagged. The album is raw, it’s full of jams that feel like they were cooked in the lab in the wee hours. It wasn’t designed to climb the charts or pack the dance floors; it was a personal exploration, a sketchbook where will.i.am doodled in the margins of genre and expectation. “Lost Change” remains a gem for those who dig in the crates of will.i.am’s career, offering a taste of his pure, unfiltered artistry before the world tours and chart-topping hits. It’s a testament to his versatility and willingness to take risks—an essential chapter for anyone tracing the lineage of a pop culture icon.
4. Must B 21 (Soundtrack to Get Things Started) ( 2003 )
This isn’t your straightforward commercial release; it’s spritzed with the essence of a mixtape, a nonchalant drop before dropping bombs became standard industry practice. What “Must B 21” offers is will.i.am’s early 2000s ethos, a blend of hip-hop and electronic influences that bridges the street corner and the dance floor. It’s experimental, it’s heady, and it screams attitude—think of it as a swag-tastic voyage through soundscapes that are both raw and polished. Featuring a dizzying array of collaborations from Planet Asia to KRS-One, the album fizzes with a kinetic energy, sparing no mercy in showcasing will.i.am’s penchant for creating exhilarating rhythms while prepping the sonic runway for the Black Eyed Peas’ imminent global takeover. It’s an understated but significant piece of the will.i.am puzzle, a harbinger of his ability to pull industry titans and underground legends into his orbit. “Must B 21” may not have climbed the charts, but it climbed into the crates of connoisseurs, standing as a testament to will.i.am’s grind before the world shouted along to “Where Is the Love?”
3. Songs About Girls ( 2007 )
The Black Eyed Peas frontman steps out with a solo offering that underscores his talents as a producer and artist with a knack for stitching together diverse sounds—from the vibrant “I Got It From My Mama” to the more reflective “Over.” This project is a narrative about love’s complexities, charting a journey from infatuation to heartbreak. Will.i.am layers his soundscapes with funky beats, electronic flourishes, and a smattering of soulful elements, painting a sonic tableau that feels both personal and universal. Despite its ambitious concept, the album faced a mixed reception, with some critics feeling it lacked a killer pop punch. Nevertheless, it stands as a testament to will.i.am’s vision and versatility, cementing his reputation as a pop craftsman who isn’t afraid to push the envelope while still dropping tracks destined to dominate the dance floor.
2. #willpower (Deluxe) ( 2013 )
It’s like Will opened his Rolodex and invited everyone who’s anyone to the party—Britney, J.T., Miley, you name it. This eclectic mix is a testament to his prowess not just as a producer, but as a nexus point for A-list collaborations. True to its title, the album is a juggernaut of willpower, an aspirational tome that pulsates with the energy of an artist striving for new heights. It’s Will.i.am turned up to eleven, packing his tracks with EDM drops that are designed to reverberate through club speakers and rattle your bones. With the deluxe version, you’re getting extra layers of the musical cake, where Will isn’t afraid to slather on the electro-funk icing thick. It’s bold, it’s ambitious, it’s Will.i.am staking his claim as a titan in the realm of pop and electronic innovation. #willpower (Deluxe) isn’t just an album; it’s a dance floor revolution you can’t help but join.
1. #willpower ( 2013 )
This album is a juggernaut of collaborations with artists that reads like a who’s who of the early 2010s charts – Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and more add their unmistakable vocals to the mix, creating a kaleidoscope of pop-centric anthems. Dripping with club-ready beats and anthemic choruses, “#willpower” is will.i.am’s pop manifesto, blurring lines between hip-hop, electronic music, and pop with the finesse of a seasoned producer. The record is sprinkled with EDM flair, best exemplified by the banger “Scream & Shout,” which became ubiquitous on dance floors worldwide. Despite some critics panning it for being too formulaic or leaning heavily on its star-studded features, there’s no denying “#willpower” was designed to be a chart-topping machine. The album’s glossy production and catchy hooks were precision-engineered for radio domination, making “#willpower” a significant, if sometimes polarizing, chapter in will.i.am’s ever-evolving discography.