The Real Story Of Why Black Eyed Peas Replaced This Woman With Fergie (Video)
While The Black Eyed Peas found superstardom in the mid-2000s, the Los Angeles, California-based collective’s story does not begin there. will.i.am, apl.de.ap, Taboo, and Fergie became global hit-makers. However, in the Hip-Hop community, many remember the quartet without Fergie, but with Kim Hill. She was with the collective in the late 1990s and early 2000s, across two major label LPs.
Hill was part of the fold when they reached TV screens, performing “Joints & Jam” on BET’s Rap City. She joined will, apl.de.ap and Taboo in 1995. She was also on board when the crew opened for Eminem, Outkast, and No Doubt.
For Hill, fame was not all positive in her life. In a just-released New York Times op-ed documentary part of the “Almost Famous” series, Hill’s story of nearly making history — only to fall short is one we can all relate to. The singer speaks about leaving the award-winning group right before the endorsement deals and movie cameos were a thing. “There was new management now, so it’s a whole different set of expectations and pressure,” she says in the New York Times video. “It just started to get clumsy and messy. You want me to grind on will.i.am in a bathing suit? That was being asked of me, never by the guys. That was happening from an executive level.”
B.E.P. would go on to consider other acts such as Nicole Scherzinger as a vocalist before locking in on Fergie. With Hill pursuing a solo career, BEP would quickly become an “inescapable” force, as Hill described them, crafting blockbuster hits like “My Humps,” “Boom Boom Pow,” and “I Gotta Feeling” for multiple Grammy wins and historic record sales. “No one handed them anything,” she said. “They worked their asses off. They deserve it.”
She continued, “The tug of war was about my sexuality and how much of that I was willing to like, literally strip down. I never wanted to be objectified while doing my music. Where’s your voice? Where are you.” Industry Rule #4080 has proven the theory of commercial appeal to be a bit one-sided when it comes to dealing with women creatives. Despite Hill’s intentions of making captivating music with the trio from East L.A., she admitted that her life at the time was different than her bandmates. “With these three, we’d rock the House Of Blues, and then they gotta go back to East L.A.,” Hill explained. “The gangs and uncles in jail, and I was in my two-bedroom apartment with my quirky roommate living in Hollywood.”
When she moved to Los Angeles from Syracuse, New York, Hill found her way into the game as an extra for shows such as Yvette Lee Bowser’s Living Single. After joining B.E.P. as a member while backstage at a BMI showcase in 1995, she would later sign a solo deal with Interscope Records in 1998. Once on her own, Hill became a DJ in 2008 and is currently crowdfunding her first cosmetic line, Next Of Kim, which has roughly $15,000 of its $50,000 goal. In the video, she says she longs for that late ’90s Hip-Hop renaissance, where the group participated in a positive, counter movement to Gangsta Rap.
At the close of the video, Hill says she has never met Fergie. However, the former member believes there would be a bond between them as two women who’ve had to navigate the music industry. “She’s never done anything to me. She didn’t take anything from me,” Hill said. “What I do feel like is if we ever met, it would be like an embrace with a hug and a deep breath because I think we just kind of know something about being that female in that construct, and that is — it’s tough.” In 2017, Fergie stepped away, at least temporarily, from B.E.P.
Last year, as a trio, the Peas released MASTERS OF THE SUN, VOL. 1. The Interscope LP featured Nas, Phife Dawg, Posdnous, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Slick Rick, among others.