Many people know the popular hit group The Black Eyed Peas, but what some may not know is that the original lead vocalist was not Fergie, but Kim Hill.
In the mid-1990s, singer-songwriter Hill met a young rapper by the name of will.i.am. He suggested that they start making music with his group The Black Eyed Peas, a rising underground hip-hop crew in Los Angeles.
In a “op-doc” for The New York Times, Hill tells her side of the story about what really happened, What caused her to step aside and to bow out without losing her values and beliefs?
When joining the group of three, will.i.am, Apl.de.ap and Taboo, the group was “rawer and more rooted in traditional hip hop - so much that they opened for rap stars like OutKast and Eminem,” according to News One.
After coming under new management on their rise to stardom, Hill hit a major roadblock when she felt pressure to be “over-sexualized.”
“There was new management now, so it’s a whole different set of expectations and pressure,” she explained. “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.”
When speaking on the tug of war about her sexuality and how much of that she was willing to like “literally strip down,” she said, “I never wanted to be objectified while doing my music.” She continued, “Where’s your voice? Where are you?”
Members of the group’s opinions differed about how they should grow and evolve in the industry, and not wanting to hold them back, as it was their “duty to progress [hip-hop] and to be “happy at a time in hip-hop where it really wasn’t okay to just be happy,” Hill decided to leave on her own to pursue a solo career in 2002.
In the meanwhile, the Black Eyed Peas considered Nicole Scherzinger as their next lead vocalist, but locked on Fergie, going on to win six Grammys and selling millions of albums.
Hill does not have any ill-will toward the group, adding that “they worked their asses off. They deserve it.”
As far as Fergie, Hill says, “She’s never done anything to me. She didn’t take anything from me.” She adds, “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.”