Was Fergie ever with The Black Eyed Peas? will.i.am's statements over the years have raised many questions
The singer's representative said she was taking a break to focus on her solo career in 2017, but Fergie herself has remained mostly silent on the matter
The Black Eyed Peas are one of the best-selling music groups of all time. From their beginnings nearly three decades ago, the band has seen multiple changes in its sound as well as its line-up, specifically their lead singer, but the most noteworthy, and most mysterious is singer Fergie's unceremonious and unofficial departure in 2017.
The drama began brewing in May 2017 when Fergie departed Interscope Records to form her own label, Dutchess Music, as part of a global partnership with BMG Rights Management. Her new label would handle her sophomore album, 'Double Dutchess', which was previously meant to be produced by will.i.am. At this point, Fergie had not been active in BEP's activities since 2015.
She later claimed that she wanted to have total control over her second album's creative process, also adding that motherhood was one of the major reasons her sophomore album took so long to complete.
will.i.am soon shared a cryptic Instagram post with the other two members of BEP, apl.de.ap, and Taboo, captioned "Hear no evil / See no evil / Speak no evil" and Taboo unfollowed Fergie on Twitter, causing many to speculate there was some bad blood brewing behind the scenes.
Not long after, will.i.am said, "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. 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," seemingly implying that Fergie was never part of the BEP, and was just one of the many women that happened to have collaborated with them in the past.
He then added, however, "As for replacing, what people know The Black Eyed Peas to be, nobody is replacing Fergie...She’s working on her solo project at the moment, we’re on this brand-new experience, celebrating 20 years of Black Eyed Peas putting out music. We worked on a bunch of songs on her solo record, we’re proud that she has her label, but Black Eyed Peas are pushing it forward in terms of content, technology and experiences on our new project, Masters of the Sun."
He also clarified the rumor that Nicole Scherzinger would be replacing Fergie, stating "Nicole is on the new BEP project as well" but adding "I don’t want to go into details how she’s involved yet."
Following the interview, many media outlets began reporting that will.i.am had confirmed Fergie's departure from the group, but her representatives soon denied the claims and stated she was focusing on her solo album. will.i.am also backtracked in a tweet stating, "[email protected] is focusing on #DoubleDutchess & @BEP is doing #MastersOfTheSun...That doesn't mean @fergie is out of the group #BEP4ever"
As will.i.am went back and forth with his statements, Fergie was dealing with her own ups and downs. In addition to taking a break from BEP and starting her own label, 2017 was the year she split from her husband of 10 years, Josh Duhamel, with whom she shares a son. Five days after they announced they were separating, Fergie's sophomore album finally dropped after leaking months earlier.
In 2018, will.i.am once again flipped his own script when asked why Fergie was not going to be on the group's seventh studio album, stating "We are now a trio. I don’t know why Fergie isn’t on the project. You will have to ask Fergie that." When pressed further, the producer stated "You know we are actually capable of doing it without Fergie...We performed as a trio before and if you had done your research properly you would know how we would do it as a three."
Taboo later echoed will.i.am's sentiments, stating "When we started the group we were a trio and even when we were a quartet, we were a trio...Because we are the origins of what we created, it's not foreign at all".
The BEP started out in 1995 as the 'Black Eyed Pods' with rappers will.i.am, apl.de.ap, and Taboo, and featured vocalist and co-producer Kim Hill on a few tracks. They released two albums titled 'Behind the Front' and 'Bridging the Gap', the latter featuring vocals from R&B singer Macy Gray. Hill left the band during its second album, claiming she was being oversexualized while the remaining members were not, adding that the pressures of fame and the commercialization of hip-hop were not to her liking.
Fergie later beat out Nicole to become the band's new lead singer in 2002, and they released the hugely successful 'Elephunk' which featured the hit song 'Where Is the Love?'. This song was remade by the group in 2016 and was the last time Fergie worked with the group.
When asked again in 2018 about whether Nicole was Fergie's replacement, will.i.am stated "We have a chat group called Black Eyed Peas family. It has nothing to do with making music or money. It’s about friendship. It’s the three of us and Nicole. It’s about family. Nicole is Black Eyed Peas. She is family." Fergie, notably, was not in this group.
But despite their statements on Nicole when it came time to actually replace Fergie, the group selected former 'The Voice of the Philippines' finalist J Rey Soul (real name is Jessica Reynoso) as their new lead singer, who features on their upcoming song 'Mamacita'. Nicole went on to reunite with The Pussycat Dolls ten years after they originally split.
Fergie stayed mostly out of the spotlight but emerged in 2018 to perform a highly-criticized rendition of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at the NBA All-Star Game. The singer later defended herself, stating "I love this country and honestly tried my best." Her ex-husband also defended her on an episode of 'The Ellen Show' saying it was hard seeing her receive so much criticism. Her ex-band, however, chose to stay silent.
In 2019 it seemed like Fergie may have been trying to mend her relationship with the BEP members as sent some love to both will.i.am and Taboo on their birthdays, something the band would frequently do in the past. But with no other updates from either side, what actually happened between Fergie and the BEP remains a mystery.
Until will.i.am releases yet another cryptic statement, of course.