will.i.am Clarifies Fergie’s Status Within The Black Eyed Peas

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UPDATE: One day after a will.i.am interview suggested Fergie was no longer in the Black Eyed Peas, the MC/producer/singer now says otherwise.

On social media, Will criticized reports stating Fergie left her group since 2003. Instead, the A&M Records superstar and investor in Beats Electronics simply stated that Fergie’s absence from a current project (and solo recording) does not mean she’s left B.E.P.

From the Geto Boys (Willie D) to A Tribe Called Quest (Jarobi White), Goodie Mob (CeeLo Green) to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony (Bizzy Bone and Flesh-n-Bone), many artists have released projects without past members, who returned later.

ORIGINAL JUNE 1 REPORT:

Between 1997 and 2000, the Black Eyed Peas released two albums: Behind The Front and Bridging The Gap. The Los Angeles, California collective of will.i.am, Taboo, and apl.de.ap were respected emerging talents in Hip-Hop. Veterans of the early ’90s (with Will and Apl having been onetime Ruthless Records artists), B.E.P. worked with DJ Premier, De La Soul, Wyclef Jean and others on those first two LPs. “Fallin’ Up / Que Dices?” and “Joints and Jam” helped the clique join Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples, and Xzibit in an emerging L.A. Underground scene, with major label backing.

In 2003, B.E.P. renovated house. Previous members Kim Hill and Sierra Swan (although never included on the artwork) were out. A longtime pop singer Fergie down with A&M Records suddenly was in. Few could have predicted that the bobbing group would make a splash as big as they did with 2003’s Elephunk. Two releases later, they were #1 on the album charts, with three #1 singles, selling over 30 million albums worldwide. While the group traded its roots beginnings for Pop-EDM backing tracks, many associated the transformation to the group’s addition: Fergie.

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During the 2000s, Stacy Ferguson had her own multi-platinum success outside of the group. Executive produced by will.i.am, Fergie’s own solo rise made her Pop elite.

Now, more than a decade later, the Peas are no longer Fergalicious. will.i.am officially confirmed Fergie’s exit, to pursue solo works. “Since the beginning of Black Eyed Peas, we’ve always had amazing vocalists that appeared on the mic with us. People like Macy Gray, Esthero, Debi Nova, Fergie.” will.iam tells Ahlan!. He points to the credits, and appears to downplay a controversial personnel move. “On Elephunk, there were several females that appeared on that album. Obviously Fergie was the featured female, but on songs like ‘Lets Get it Started,’ it’s Noelle [Scaggs], and then Fergie, songs like ‘Latin Girls,’ it’s Debi Nova, and ‘Request Line,’ it’s Macy Gray. We’ll always work with good females,” will.i.am tells Ahlan!. He later confirms, “[Fergie is] working on her solo project at the moment.” Will adds that B.E.P. has recorded some new solo music with Ferg’ to boot.

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Perhaps Will is simply defending the founding three members of the group and their vision. However, B.E.P.’s direction without its longtime singer remains the question.