Over the weekend, rapper will.i.am from the musical group Black Eyed Peas made some remarks regarding the band’s placement in the black community that caused a bit of disturbance on social media and brought another member out from the shadows.
During an interview with Wyclef Jean on the “Run That Back” podcast, the artist claimed that the group’s global success after 2004 caused them to no longer be considered “a Black group.” He expressed hurt over the situation, telling Wyclef that, “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.”
Black Eyed Peas was founded in 1995 and originally consisted of members will.i.am, Taboo, Apl.de.ap and singer Kim Hill, all of whom identify as either Black or a person of color. Singer Fergie, who most may be familiar with, later replaced Hill when the singer left the group in 2000.
Hill addressed the situation alongside her 10-year-old son Cassius in a nearly 19-minute- long video posted to her Instagram page.
“I was really just thinking hip hop was and still is one of the biggest Black genres of music. It’s hip hop, its rap. When you think about that, you think of Black people and the Black community,” Cassius explained. “When you sort of drift from that and you’re not doing hip hop anymore, and you sort of go to Pop and autotune and robotic voices and that kind of stuff, you’re not in those Black roots anymore.”
Cassius also expressed his concern for why will.i.am passed over the era when his mother was a part of the group and seemingly started the history for Black Eyed Peas in 2004.
When it was Hill’s turn to speak, she addressed her former bandmate directly. “I love you, will. I’ve made it plain. I’ve made it clear, and 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 and congratulated them, and that has come from a very pure place. And I can say that not really being a fan of the music of the direction at all,” Hill said. “For you to make that statement as if the onus is on the Black community to celebrate you and the band when you didn’t celebrate us. It’s almost like there’s this cultural smudging.”
Hill revealed that she was supported by her fellow peers, such as the Mos Def and Slum Village, but never by her own bandmates. She added, “And you want the same community to validate you, and you put a white girl in that space.” Hill said after years of putting her head down and minding “my black business,” she was done.
Critics also voiced their opinions across social media, including one Twitter user who wrote, “Black Eyed Peas started as socially conscious alternative hip hop group. But they had to sacrifice a lot of their core to achieve international success. We can’t dismiss something that he chose to leave behind.”
Another user commented, “I completely agree. Their sound didn’t evolve, it totally deviated from where they originally began. It was blatant. So this feeling of abandonment from the core audience is disingenuous imo..”
Check out Hill’s Full response below.