Recently, will.i.am publicly pondered why Black people aren’t really checking for Black Eyed Peas despite their international success. The answer is quite obvious, and former BEP singer explained it quite clearly after hearing about his concern.
Speaking on Wyclef Jean’s Run That Back podcast, will.i.am discussed his disappointment with the Black Eyed Peas not being celebrated as “a Black group” and examined why that possibly isn’t widely accepted., will.i.am wondered out loud why Black Eyed Peas has been forsaken be the Black community, despite being artists of color (for the most part) and having been discovered by the late Eazy-E of N.W.A fame.
“In 2004, Black Eyed Peas we, we were just trying to get on. When you think of…like, I’m a Black dude but when you think of Black Eyed Peas, we go so big that…and it hurts, it still hurts a little bit that we’re not considered a Black group because we got that big,” explained will.i.am. “And when you think of Black Eyed Peas, you don’t think of…it’s no longer Urban or Black culture, which is…it’s not good for the Black community that Black Eyed Peas is not looked at as a Black group because we had international success.”
Added will, who to his credit is a legit Hip-Hop head, “That’s just a thing that we suffer from all the time. When you think of Jazz, you no longer think of Black anymore. When you think of Rock n’ Roll, you don’t think of Black anymore. All that, I don’t know why we have that. When you think of even country, you don’t think of Black. A lot of the things that we create and we invent, we dispose of or it gets stolen from us to the point where it’s not associated to its origins.”
There are some nuances will.i.am failed to mention, though.
Black Eyed Peas’ debut album, Behind The Front, dropped in 1998 and enjoyed modest success and they followed up the project with 2000’s Bridging The Gap. In 2000, Kim Hill, a Black female singer, left the group which was known as an eclectic Hip-Hop band, and Fergie, a white singer, would replace her a couple of years later.
BEP would drop Elephunk in 2003 and it would go triple-platinum, thanks to the crossover success of tracks like “Let’s Get It Started” and “Where Is The Love?” Monkey Business dropped two years later and sold even more records, cementing them as a global phenomenon.
It wasn’t lost on anyone that the group fully crossed over after bringing in the white girl for the Pop appeal. HIll has always given BEP nothing but props for their success and has been clear that it was her decision to leave the group (she said as much in a profile that the New York Times did on her in late 2019). But after will.i.am’s comments she quickly took to Instagram to respond.
“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,” said Hill, addressing her former bandmate directly. Interestingly, she was accompanied by her young son, Cassius, who is clearly when defending his mom.
“You’re not in those Black roots anymore,” said Cassius. “So, I don’t understand how you’re not even going to talk about the Black girl that you had in your group and you’re going to skip to 2004 and you say, ‘I don’t understand how the Black community isn’t embracing us.'”
The kid has a point.
Peep Kim Hill setting the record straight, and particularly taking offense to him failing to mention her when it was clearly relevant, below.