When Interscope Geffen A&M chairman Jimmy Iovine suggested the idea of a solo album earlier this year, Black Eyed Peas leader will.i.am was caught off guard "I'm thinking, 'Why would I do a solo p

When Interscope Geffen A&M chairman Jimmy Iovine suggested the idea of a solo album earlier this year, Black Eyed Peas leader will.i.am was caught off guard "I'm thinking, 'Why would I do a solo project?'" he recalls. "I could just do an album with the Black Eyed Peas. It's a band full of solo artists. I knew whatever I did had to be more than just a solo album."

As he began working on "Songs About Girls," will.i.am (real name William Adams) had a solid idea of what he did-and didn't-want to be as a solo artist. "I wanted to be a producer, a songwriter and a vocalist and a rapper -- [to] wear all the hats," he says. And even though he has an extensive, Grammy Award-nominated production résumé that includes Mary J. Blige, Justin Timberlake and Peas singer Fergie, he didn't want "Songs About Girls" to be a standard producer's kind of album.

"I didn't want to go to all these people and say, 'You want to do a song with me?' and such and such," he says. "I didn't want to do a solo record that's not really a solo record, just me with a whole bunch of people on it. I wanted it to be a real solo attempt, a project with a continuous theme that was connected all the way through."

The storyline -- which tracks an up-and-coming hip-hop producer's relationship with a girlfriend -- was inspired by real events, specifically a seven-year relationship that began about the same time as the Black Eyed Peas in 1995.