Kim Hill has spoken out about some of the comments Black Eyed Peas leader will.i.am made in recent days, congratulating him on the group's massive success but also criticizing him for failing to see how the group intentionally distanced itself from the Black community.
While appearing on Wyclef's podcast Run That Back, will.i.am said it hurt his feelings that the chart-topping group was no longer considered, in his eyes, a "Black" group because of their international success.
“It still hurts a little bit [that] we’re not considered a Black group because we got that big. And when you think of Black Eyed Peas, it’s no longer urban or Black culture, which is not good for the Black community that Black Eyed Peas is not looked at as a Black group…because we’ve had international success,” will.i.am told Wyclef.
He went on to compare the situation to how other genres of music, like rock and roll, jazz and country music, are no longer considered "Black" despite being created by Black people.
The comments caused a wave of criticism online from people who noted that the group went in a very obviously different direction in 2000 after years of performing as a neo-soul hip-hop group. From 1995 to 2000, Hill was the lead vocalist as the group toured and produced music similar to groups like Outkast, A Tribe Called Quest and others.
Hill said she left the group in 2000 due to pressure from label executives urging her to sexualize herself more in their music and performances.
The group eventually held auditions to replace her, originally considering future star Nicole Scherzinger for the role but settling on singer Stacy Ann Ferguson, also known as Fergie. The group then shot to stardom with the hit song "Where Is The Love."
Black folks took to Twitter and Instagram to point out that the switch from Hill to Ferguson was what separated the group from the Black community.
Will. i. am said people stopped calling the Black Eyed Peas a black group because they got too big lol. OR it was because they replaced Kim Hill with Fergie and started making Now That’s What I Call Music music.— Reid (@RVAReid) January 2, 2021