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will.i.am confirms that Fergie has left The Black Eyed Peas

"We’ll always work with good females,” will.i.am said.

It's been a while since fans have seen Fergie with The Black Eyed Peas, and founding member will.i.am confirmed that she is no longer with the group.

In a new interview with Ahlan!, will.i.am spoke about her relationship with the band since joining in 2002 for Elephunk, the group's third album.

“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 'Let's 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.”

So is will.i.am saying that Fergie left because she wasn't getting enough time on the mic? That's unclear, but will.i.am did confirm that she was out of the group - and that she wouldn't be replaced.

"As far as replacing, what people know The Black Eyed Peas to be, nobody is replacing Fergie," he said. “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.”

will.i.am also addressed rumors that Nicole Sherzinger would be taking Fergie's place.

"Nicole is on the new BEP project as well,” he said. “I don’t want to go into details how she’s involved yet."

Fergie was a big part of the group's global success in the past 15 years. The albums with her featured most prominently - Elephunk, Monkey Business, and The E.N.D. - , saw them reach peaks in their performance on Billboard charts and in Grammy nominations. The Beginning, the group's 2010 album which featured her less prominently, was their lowest-charging album since Elephunk. Her solo career is off to a good start though: her 2006 debut The Dutchess has sold more than nine million copies worldwide, and she's currently working on its follow-up, Double Dutchess.

E! News reports that "Fergie has been phasing herself out" of the group for a while and is "just interested in working on her solo music."

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