Will.i.am has revealed that rapping and an outlandish dress sense saved him from a life in gangs.
The Black Eyed Peas singer and judge on The Voice told the Sun how he escaped a dead-end life by dressing differently to the neighbourhood kids and becoming an entertainer.
He said: "A lot of my friends are dead, were in prison, on drugs or were selling drugs... You either joined the gang or you did arts or sports. My attire got me through though. The louder you dressed, it became obvious that you were not in a gang."
The super-rich producer, who made a surprise appearance carrying the Olympic torch through Somerset yesterday, added: "I used to rap and that is what kept me out of trouble. It kept me safe."
Will is now using his £50 million fortune to set up the I.Am.Scholarship programme to help disadvantaged children access education.
"Education is very important to me," he said.