The Black Eyed Peas Quietly Changed the Offensive Lyrics to the Original 'Let's Get It Started'

The music industry has its share of controversial artists and lyrics, but fans are no longer putting up with the insensitive and rude language that was once overlooked. Instead, fans are demanding change and apologies from some of the biggest names in the industry — bringing light to an almost forgotten title/lyric change made by the Black Eyed Peas in the early 2000s.

The truth is, the stunt pulled by the Black Eyed Peas when they quietly removed the offensive lyrics to “Let’s Get it Started” was one that wouldn’t fly today. In fact, they never addressed the topic at all, so we’re only left to speculate on why they made the change only a year after its debut.

The Black Eyed Peas members and their success at the time of the song’s debut

The original members of the Black Eyed Peas consisted of rappers Will.i.am, Taboo, and apl.de.ap — although their 2003 single and hit album debuted their new female lead Fergie. Although the group had some success as a band (especially in Australia), the members’ successes didn’t really take off until their Elephunk album with “Let’s Get it Started” in it.

What’s crazy about the matchup is how quickly Fergie found fame with the BEPs after years of struggles and addiction. An addiction to crystal meth led to her talking to inanimate objects and hallucinating on the regular. Fortunately, she was almost a year into recovery and committed to music as a way of keeping her grounded.

The success of ‘Let’s Get it Started’

When the BEPs debuted “Let’s Get it Started,” the song was an instant hit with fans all over. While it never hit number one on Billboard, they were at their peak for two weeks in a row, hitting #20 in 2005.

Most notably, however, is that the band received a prestigious award for the single — Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

The original title would not fly today

The original title of the hit song was “Let’s Get Retarded,” with Fergie and the chorus belting out lyrics of the same name throughout the single. It hit the scene for nearly a year before the band decided to pull the original title and swap it for a less offensive title like “Let’s Get it Started.” 

Since times weren’t as sensitively inclusive in the early 2000s and the BEPs never addressed the topic directly, there’s no saying why they chose to make the change — although we can speculate they changed the words to get more coverage on the radio or because special needs organizations reached out to them.

Celebrities in a similar situation where they used the slur ‘retarded’ either in a lyric or publicly were not so easily forgotten. In fact, stars like Lady Gaga, Cardi B, Eminem, and Queen B have been quick to apologize and admit their wrongdoing while the BEPs remain silent.

The reason for their lack of criticism from fans for their original song title/lyrics can be in large part due to their quick and quiet swap to “Let’s Get it Started” before the public could fully react. No matter what their reasons were at the time for the change, it’s safe to say the swap more than a decade ago saved the Black Eyed Peas from a lot of scrutiny today.

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