Founding Black Eyed Peas member Will.I.Am recently appeared on Wyclef Jean's "Run That Back" podcast, where he lamented the fact that BEP was no longer considered a Black group following the success of 2004's Elephunk.
"I'm a Black dude, but when you think of Black Eyed Peas, we got so big…and it hurts, it still hurts a little bit that we're not considered a Black group…because we got that big," Will.I.Am said. "And when you think of Black Eyed Peas…it's no longer urban or Black culture. [It] is not good for the Black community that Black Eyed Peas is not looked at as a Black group because we had international success."
Kim Hill, an original group member who was replaced with Fergie, took exception to her co-founder's comments and called him out for neglecting to highlights the group's Black roots while wondering why the group is no longer embraced by the Black community.
"I'll speak to you directly Will, I love you," Hill started. "I've made it plain. I've made it clear. I have supported the Peas, post my departure, publicly and privately. I've reached out to all three of the guys over the years at all their big milestones to congratulate them and that has come from a very pure place. And I say that not really being a fan of the direction or the music at all. I say this with love. I was in the Black Eyed Peas, it became the Navy beans or something else. It's not my band. It's not what I was in. And that's totally fine."
She continued by wondering why Will.I.Am has never highlighted the group's beginnings and her contributions.
"Will, why I'm coming on camera and addressing you today, as if the onus is on the Black community to celebrate you and the band, when you didn't celebrate us," Hill said. "It's almost like there's this cultural smudging…I've heard that when you have the opportunity to say my name, you don't. But to actually see it, to see that you would not talk about the evolution of The Black Eyed Peas, at a time when Wyclef referenced it and I was there—it's mind-blowing."
Hill followed those comments by highlighting a larger issue involving Black women in the industry. She referenced points in her career where she faced pushback for attempting to keep herself and the group rooted in Blackness before calling Will out for replacing her with a White woman.
"It feels like the erasing of the imprint of a powerful Black woman," Hill continued. "You may have more money than I'll ever have in a lifetime but I have something you cannot buy. As I said in the doc, I have my happy. I always stayed rooted in my Blackness. And I fought for that when I was at Interscope as a soloist and when I was in the Black Eyed Peas and I constantly got pushback…You want to have the same community that helped build you—us coming out of the Native Tongue movement, to now hold you in the space where we hold Mos Def and De La [Soul] and Tribe [Called Quest] and Slum Village. These are all our people because we all toured with them. All these brothers, to this day, hold me to the highest regard. But I don't get it from you, not publicly. You want that same community to validate you and you put a White girl in that place."
Will.I.Am, Kim Hill, Taboo, and Apl.de.ap. originally founded the Black Eyed Peas in Los Angeles in 1995. Hill left the group in 2000 and was replaced with Fergie in 2002. In 2019, Hill was the subject of The New York Times' documentary short which detailed the pressure and struggle she experienced as a Black woman in the music industry.
To listen to the rest of Kim Hill's comments, view the above clip.