Why Does Will.i.am No Longer Release Music?

It seems like it's been an eternity since William Adams, more popularly known as Will.i.am, released a series of hits, either as a solo artist or as part of the iconic Black Eyed Peas group. Aside from a standalone single with Britney Spears in July 2023, the singer-songwriter appears to have been laying low in the music industry, a far departure from the 2000s to 2010s when he was pretty much a mainstay on the charts. What gives?

Will.i.am's noticeable pause is enough to make fans scratch their heads, especially since he's the kind of guy who sees and hears music in everything. "I just love music," he told ABC News. "And if there's not music around, then you just listen to life. The car passing by is doing a collaboration with a bird in the tree, and the jackhammer is the rhythm man and all that stuff. You just listen to that, and it's a symphony if you let it be that." It's not surprising that apart from his solo and group career work, he has also consistently churned out hits for various artists, writing or producing tracks for the likes of John Legend, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Justin Timberlake, and many more.

But entering the 2020s, Will.i.am hasn't reclaimed his once-dominant position in the music charts, and apparently, it's not for the lack of trying. As it turns out, the Grammy award winner has been keeping busy with other things beyond hitmaking, including going back to school, and at Harvard University, no less.

He was busy attending Harvard University

It turns out that Will.i.am's absence from the music scene isn't because he's lost his groove but because he's hitting the books. In an appearance on "The Jennifer Hudson Show," the "Boom Boom Pow" singer shared that he enrolled himself in Harvard Business School to learn more about operating businesses.

"One year, I woke up, and I'm like, 'I want to go to Harvard,'" he shared. "I'm doing all of this business stuff, and I want to make sure that I'm not just taking advantage of success and not disciplining myself to have further success." He added that going back to school allowed him to get a taste of the full college experience. "I stay in the dorms. I'm in the dorms, girl!" he quipped. And for a guy who missed his high school graduation because he had already secured a record deal early on, this is his chance for his own cap-and-gown moment."This will be my first time walking the stage," he said.

His efforts have been worth it, though, with the singer telling Forbes Breaking News that returning to school had equipped him with the knowledge he needs for his future business ventures. "Going to Harvard ... You can never learn enough. And so, it's a humbling experience after having a ginormous success in music," he said. "The professors have given me the information and perspective that I'm going to need. .. Not now, but eventually. And the students, my classmates, hearing from them, their business hurdles, and the things that they had to overcome. I have amazing classmates who have awesome companies."

He was also preoccupied with his businesses

Beyond being a singer, songwriter, producer, and student, Will.i.am is also a full-fledged entrepreneur and futurist, a side of him that flies under the radar for many. Not many know this, but the singer is a founding shareholder of the Beats by Dre brand, which sold to Apple for $3 billion in 2014. In 2011, Intel tapped him to be its director of creative innovation, and the following year, he partnered with Coca-Cola to create a campaign that promotes recycling.

Will.i.am didn't stop there, of course, with the artist going on to establish his own tech company and developing products like The Puls smartwatch, the Buttons headphones, and IAmAuto car. While not every endeavor had been a home run, failure hasn't dampened his spirits. "A stumble is a stumble. It's education on the run and the marathon, so you don't stumble again," he told Entrepreneur. In 2023, he launched an AI-driven platform called FYI meant for creatives, and in early 2024, he introduced Sound Drive, a state-of-the-art entertainment system for cars.

And so even if Will.i.am has a reduced musical output, he remains a creative visionary in other industries. "It's the hardest thing in the world, using your own money, and no one believing in you because you are supposed to stay in music," he shared at the TRANS4M conference (via Growth Capital Ventures). "When you believe in something, nothing is going to hold you back, no matter if your pocket is burning your skin — and if you are making hardware your pockets are going to burn your skin. I don't mind taking a risk, shedding blood, to raise opportunities or awareness of certain things."