William James Adams Jr. [note 1] was born in Eastside Los Angeles, and was raised in the Estrada Courts housing projects in the Boyle Heights neighborhood, where he and his family were among the few African Americans living in a predominantly Hispanic community. Adams has never met his father, William Adams Sr. He was raised by his mother, Debra (née Cain), who encouraged him to be unique and to avoid conforming to the tendencies of the other youths in his neighborhood on the east side of Los Angeles. To encourage his musical career, she sent him to public schools in affluent West Los Angeles. While attending John Marshall High School, he became best friends with Allan Pineda (stage name apl. de. ap), who was also a future member of The Black Eyed Peas. While still in high school, Adams and Pineda performed in East L. A. clubs and were soon joined by three other entertainers to form the socially conscious rap group, Atban Klann. Atban Klann caught the eye of Compton rapper Eazy-E and was signed to his label, Ruthless Records in 1992.