I believe the Sergio Mendes/will.i.am teamup was inspired by the Black Eyed Peas’ use of a Sergio Mendes sample on one of their albums. The Brazilian keyboardist and Will fostered a bond, and 2006’s “Timeless”, an album that was largely co-conceived and co-produced by will.i.am and stands as his strongest album-length effort, was born. The album wasn’t exactly a groundbreaking concept-pair a legend with a sea of established young artists and see what happens, but even though the album itself was uneven, it still worked out to be a better sounding effort than most other albums conceived similarly (see: the last ten years of Carlos Santana’s career).
Among the guests who provided quality cameos on “Timeless”: Erykah Badu, Jill Scott (her “Let Me” is the album’s highlight), Q-Tip, John Legend, and Justin Timberlake. The song JT appears on, “Loose End” is a haunting track made even more resonant by the fact that it surfaced in the middle of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. Mendes’ piano playing fits in perfectly with the poignant verses dropped by Pharoahe Monch and Timberlake’s understated vocals.