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Expanding beyond his roots with the Black Eyed Peas, Will.i.am has become the go-to guy for urban-pop hitmaking. From Fergie to Usher, the music multihyphenate has worked alongside countless Top 40 superstars, rarely taking a break or, it seems, a moment to breathe.
Continuing his solo career, will.i.am plans to release his fourth studio album, #willpower, in the coming months. The first single “This is Love” debuted on Monday on Live! With Kelly, and will again be performed on Tuesday’s episode of America’s Got Talent (watch the video on VEVO). First popping up on the scene with his Grammy Award-winning group, the rapper, songwriter, producer, entrepreneur, DJ and actor also has a number of solo endeavors to his name.
Below, The Hollywood Reporter picks the top five collaborations that have defined will.i.am’s career as an all around superstar.
Fergie ft. will.i.am – “Fergalicious”
When the lead duo from The Black Eyed Peas announced that they would both release solo albums, there was no doubt that they would end up collaborating. “Fergalicious” was the second single released from Fergie’s 2006 debut album, The Dutchess. It was co-written, produced, and features vocals from will.i.am. The pop hit peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Flo Rida ft. will.i.am – “In the Ayer”
“In the Ayer” was the third single off rapper Flo Rida’s debut album, Mail on Sunday. In addition to being featured on the track, will.i.am also co-wrote and produced the collaboration. “In the Ayer” went double platinum in the U.S. and “Oh hot damn, this is my jam” became the anthem for summer 2008. The song was played on radio stations across the country and can still be heard in some of the most popular Hollywood nightclubs.
Cheryl Cole ft. will.i.am – “3 Words”
The English recording artist, formally known for her role in the all girl group “Girls Aloud,” gave will.i.am full control on her triple-platinum debut album 3 Words, for which he served as executive producer. The duo first teamed up when will.i.am asked Cole to sing on his track “Heartbreaker,” released in May 2008, off his second album, Songs about Girls. Venturing beyond production work in the studio, Will also helps guide Cole’s career as her co-manager.
Usher ft. will.i.am – “O.M.G”
R&B legend Usher took a different route with the upbeat “O.M.G,” featured on his sixth studio album, Raymond vs. Raymond. The song was written, produced and features will.i.am, spawning a pop dance song that would instantly become an international party hit. “O.M.G” was released in March 2010, went double platinum in the United States, and has 11 remixes to date.
Nicki Minaj ft. will.i.am – “Check it Out”
One of will.i.am’s most recent collaborations was with Young Money princess, Nicki Minaj. “Check it out” was Minaj’s first real single, helping generate her stardom as one of this generation’s most celebrated female rappers. The track was featured on her debut album, Pink Friday, and was co-written by Minaj and will.i.am to parallel The Buggles’ 1979 single, “Video Killed the Radio Star.” The pair performed “Check it Out” at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards pre-show, and the song has since been deemed a “party-starting must-listen” by Entertainment Weekly.
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