Kim Hill
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Kim Hill


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"Underground Soul: Kim Hill"

Underground Soul: Kim Hill

Based on the number of requests I’ve received asking for more information on Kim Hill since I included her on last week’s Friday Freestyle, I’ve decided to spotlight her as this week’s Underground Artist.

What do you do if you’re an artist who puts her integrity before her art? What do you do if you’re kicked out of one group for not being commercial enough and dropped by a record label for not sounding “black enough?” If you’re Kim Hill, you become an outspoken, self-promoting, independent artist. New York born, Los Angeles based singer Kim Hill learned how to play the violin and piano at the age of six and studied dance with the legendary Judith Jamison.

In October 1995 while doing a showcase for BMI, she met The Black Eyed Peas and was asked to join. She co-wrote songs on both their Behind The Front and Bridging The Gap CD’s, started producing and learned how to play guitar. She remained with the group until 2001 when they opted to replace her with another singer. Kim signed with Interscope Records but was let go because they feared her music wasn’t “black enough.” Once again Kim found her self on the outside looking in. That didn’t stop her. She independently produced and released Surrender to Her Sunflower in 2000 and Suga Hill in 2003.

Suga Hill is short and sweet, only 9 tracks, but she opted for quality over quantity. Her jazzy voice and distinct phrasing stand out over mid-tempo beats with an almost retro feel. It’s filled with smart and witty tracks that feel very personal. She finishes the CD out with her acoustic version of giving the middle finger to her former bandmates.

Kim Hill’s sang with artists like Biggie Smalls, Outkast, Tevin Campbell, The Pharcyde, Cody Chestnutt, Slum Village, Raphael Saadiq, Jody Watley, De La Soul, No Doubt, A Tribe Called Quest and Aaliyah and co-wrote Tupac’s “Mamas Just A Little Girl.” Her forthcoming CD Pharoah’s Daughter featuring production by Bugz In The Attic & 4hero is scheduled to be released this summer on her own independent label called One Brave Indian. Suga Hill is available at Dusty Grooves.

Kim Hill - Suga Hill
1. Feel Me
2. Taxi Cab
3. Mars
4. Lost My Mind
5. Sunny Blue
6. Basically
7. Summertime in Aspen
8. K.I.M.M.Y.
9. The Real Hip Hop

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 6th, 2005 -

"Suga Hill Album Review"

Now with her latest CD masterpiece, Suga Hill, the scribe and soloist who was nominated by the LA Weekly for Best Contemporary Blues/R&B Artist in both 2001, 2002 & 2003 has created an illustrious following in the Los Angeles music scene and is finally making her mark in an industry that so desperately craves diversity. "By the time you reach the end of this L.A. dame's self-distributed full-length debut, one thought constantly plays over and over in your head: Many of Hill's honey-dripping melodies are covered with mid-tempo, bounce-heavy grooves that give the album a fanciful, retro charge. (If this were 1986, Hill would be so the shit!)," says the Philadelphia Weekly. "Basically" has a smooth midnight soul sound full of sensual mystique, inspired by Roberta Flack's 1976 hit, "Feel like Making Love" and is complete with scratches provided by Maseo from the hip hop trio, De La Soul. "Taxicab" is Kim's ode to The Pharcyde's 1992 classic, "Passing Me By," where she explains that the glitz of the entertainment industry will ultimately come to an end and those that relish in this lifestyle will eventually be passed on by. However it's on "The Real Hip-Hop" that Kim brings heat and clarity to those fans that questioned her departure from the Peas in 2000. She sings, "It was all good then things changed, new management they rearranged. No loyalty for your kinfolk, who's the white girl singing in your video? "I would be a buffoon if I gave my audience an inch shy of the truth, even if I end up falling flat on my face. No minstrel shows here thank you."

In essence, Kim personifies vintage Soul and Hip Hop and it's her beautiful voice and surprisingly different point of view that keeps the songs sounding fresh with each and every listen. "The Peas gave up a treasure when they lost Kim." Even remarked, "Guest vocalists aren't the only thing lacking on Elephunk - the album is also without former Black Eyed Peas singer Kim Hill, who played an integral role on Bridging the Gap." Suga Hill awakens the spirit in 9 ear-pleasing tracks. Kim has that magical attribute to mesmerize audiences of various generations, as well as those of vast social and ethnic backgrounds. Suga Hill threads old-school soul roots with modern day imagination and creativity, capturing the essence of what quality music and diversification is all about. Kim's third cd, "Pharaoh's Daughter", is said to be one of the best independent releases of the year. Look for the album to hit retail this summer with songs like, "Disney", "Hollywood" and "Right Now" to shake up the industry in a much needed fashion. -


t‘s after midnight and warm outside on this unusually busy stretch of Adams Boulevard. Cradling a mug of steaming water, Kim Hill adjusts the red feather boa around her tiny neck for the umpteenth time. Her big eyes flit anxiously between the small group of club patrons hanging out in front of Fais Do-Do’s entrance and a guy standing next to her.

”I just don‘t understand -- I left it on the stage this afternoon. Why would somebody move it?“ By now Hill’s questions are not directed at anyone in particular. Her ponytailed head swivels toward the honking traffic while she talks. All movement and words come to a graceful halt as she takes a thoughtful sip. Even under stress, she‘s all lady.

Hill’s guitar is found. Thirty minutes later, seated on a barstool on Fais Do-Do‘s stage with a spotlight trained on her grinning face, the singer falls into a gentle strum of the chords to ”Hotel California.“ The room, now quiet, is crammed with a mid-20s crowd so exotically diverse in dress and ethnicity that they look like an audition for a Benetton ad. It’s a wonder any of them are old enough to recognize the song, least of all Hill herself.

Though lyrically retooled by Hill to portray a teenage girl‘s odyssey into the abstract and unknown, the haunting ballad is definitely a contrast to the below-level hip-hop funk the vocalist worked with on the Black Eyed Peas’ ‘98 disc Behind the Front.

”The blessing is that I’m able to perform so much of my solo material on the road with them,“ says Hill, who serves as featured vocalist for the group. ”It‘s great. We’ll be in the middle of the show, and the guys‘ll be dancin’, and they‘ll be, like, ’Kim, we want to take it someplace else -- Kim, do “Sunshine,” do “Hotel.”‘ And I’ll be, like, flubbing for my mic, and Beat Pharmacie, the band, will just kind of chime in. The band did a bit of co-writing with me for my album.“

Hill‘s Surrender to Her Sunflower is a testament to her marvelous vocal and songwriting talent. Co-produced by Black Eyed Peas member Will Adams after Hill was signed as a solo artist to Interscope, the album features the singer’s dexterous soprano gliding across a 10-song expanse of laid-back, sensuous soul. Currently, indie radio shows like KCRW‘s Chocolate City regularly play cuts from the album, and it’s also making noise on the charts in Dublin, Ireland, of all places. Add this to Hill‘s recent video with Les Nubians for the album’s ”Sunshine“ track, which has been guaranteed rotation on MTV affiliates in the U.K., and one can only question the wisdom of Interscope when they informed Hill in May that they were passing on the project, to focus on other black female artists on the label like Mya and Sparkle.

”It‘s a compliment that they didn’t accept it because there weren‘t enough references to ass or screwin’,“ says Hill. ”I wasn‘t willing to make those compromises; there’s enough of that kind of music out there.“ Hill had previously been approached by the Peas‘ manager, and it was after seeing her perform at a BMI showcase in ’94 that the group asked if she‘d be interested in working with them. A week later, Hill and Adams wrote the lyrics for ”The Way You Make Me Feel,“ which ended up on the Behind the Front album. Hill is featured on most of the tracks of the Peas’ upcoming disc, which is slated for a September release.

After graduating from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a BFA in dance and a season as a dancer for the Philadelphia 76ers, the Syracuse-born Hill, who‘s also classically trained as a singer, packed her bags in ’93 and headed west, arriving in L.A. with $36.

”I ended up having to wait tables,“ says Hill. ”That was hard, but I was makin‘ great money. Then it really becomes a challenge: You’re makin‘ $700 a week, and you start blowin’ off theater and dance auditions. Of course, you‘re just starting out, so you’re doing music sessions for free, doing demos for different up-and-coming producers. But more often than not, when it comes time to cut the record, they‘re gonna call in the hot girl of the moment. It’s never the girl that busted her ass for six months laying demos with that aspiring producer.“

Proving that a record deal is not the be all and end all, the singer sells her CD through her Web site,, where you can also see the music video for ”Sunshine.“ Currently touring with the Peas, Lit and No Doubt, in August Hill plans to return to her weekly Wednesday-night performance event, Scat ‘n’ Chat Lounge at Fais Do-Do.

”Since I‘ve been out here I’ve been very fortunate,“ says Hill. ”I was able to make a little bit of noise with acting, but I wasn‘t devoting any time to my music. I knew within a year of living in L.A. that it was going to be one or the other. It’s great if you can be a triple threat, but you‘re going to need to focus exclusively on one thing in order to really make it pop.“ - LA Weekly June 29, 2000 by Derrick Mathis

"Kim Hill: Suga Hill 2003"

There is a reason why I search high and low for underground organic soul find "GEMS" like Kim Hill's "Suga Hill." This is the debut CD from the former Black Eyed Peas vocalist. "Suga Hill" combines Kim's fresh vocals, hip hop influenced back beats and real instruments to create a soul sound that is refreshing and impressive for her first time out. The 9 track, self-produced CD flows from start to finish. Every track is a stand out track and offers a different vibe that showcases a different side of Kim. It's hard to pull out a favorite track because the album is so fluid and each track leads you to the next. Kim does a great job bringing her hip hop background to the project while keeping her grooves infectious and original. If you need to spend wisely, like most of us do, I highly recommend "Suga Hill." This album is for those who crave quality over commercialism and it will leave you anticipating more from Kim in the future. This is 'underground' at it's finest. - by T. Freeman

"Kim Hill is Pharaoh's Daughter"

When I lived in Cali early 2000, I used to shop at all the hot spots including Amoeba on Sunset. My homegirl DJ IMI used tell me about all the soul music new releases. One day she handed me a cd called “Suga Hill” with a picture of 2 little girls in the bathroom and 1 of the girls was sitting on the toilet. I thought to myself this Kim Hill cd must be the sh!t!!! And I was right. Check Concrete Grooves for Kim’s “Right Now” single (and other goodies).

Copy link to watch related video... -


12" and radio play on all:

Black Eyed Peas - Behind the Front - Singer & Co-writer - hits such as "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Joints & Jam", "What it is"

Black Eyed Peas - Bridging the Gap - Singer & Co-writer - hits such as "Weekends"

2Pac - Better Dayz - co-wrote "Mama's Just a Little Girl" with the late 2pac. the cd also features collabsfrom Anthony Hamilton and Jazze Pha

Jane's Addiction - Strays - guest appearance

Solo Releases:
Pharaoh's Daughter
Suga Hill
Surrender to Her Sunflower
I'm Back

Guest Appearances:

Okada Taxi

Hennessy: Urban Sounds - Featuring "Sink My Teeth" other songs feature Martin-Luther and Aarow.

Organic Soul - Featuring Sy Smith and Liz Fields.

Giant Step Records: Soul Sessions 2 - Featuring Donnie and 4Hero.

Suite 903 - Featuring "Feel Me"



Kim Hill has shared the stage with a spectrum of artists including the late Biggie Smalls, Outkast, The Black Eyed Peas, The Pharcyde, Cody Chestnutt, Slum Village, Raphael Saadiq, Jody Watley, De La Soul, No Doubt, A Tribe Called Quest and Aaliyah to name a few. She co-wrote on Tupac's "Mamas just a Little Girl," an ode to young single mothers from his 2x’s multi platinum album, Better Dayz and recorded with Jane’s Addiction. However it was the chance meeting in 1995 at a BMI Showcase with the then unknown multicultural alternative hip hop group, The Black Eyed Peas that sent Kim on a whirlwind adventure that would ultimately change her career.

They embraced her sound and brought her into the studio with them where she co-wrote several songs on their groundbreaking album, Behind the Front including the hit, "The Way You Make Me Feel." Kim became known as the Peas stand out vocalist and quickly assimilated into the roots of their progressive family tree, contributing to numerous tracks on both Behind the Front and Bridging the Gap. Hill's writing style and concepts gave birth to songs such as "On My Own", which featured Les Nubians and Mos Def, as well as the irrepressible "Hot." Even the members of Cypress Hill agreed, "The Peas give an entertaining show with having the live band and dancing all over the place, but their singer Kim Hill is dope!"The youngest of three children born in Syracuse, New York, Kim learned how to play the violin and piano at the tender age of six and continued through high school. While attending the dance program at the prestigious University of The Arts in Philadelphia, Hill was guided by professors including the legendary Judith Jamieson (Alvin Ailey), and had colleagues such as ?uestlove from the Grammy nominated hip-hop group, The Roots.

"So when Justin Timberlake does the beat box and sings with Al Green, suddenly he has street cred? Disney must have stock in hip-hop because the Mouseketeers got hard all of a sudden... Please don't be puzzled by my concern, after all, music is in a state of emergency. I'm not saying I'm here to save black music, just don't tell me I'm not black enough if I pick up a banjo. Oh and by the way, neo-soul is a wrap, done, finito." - Kim Hill

She’s the angel who wears her halo as a belt. On her upcoming highly anticipated album, Pharaoh's Daughter, Kim provides her listeners with a taste of lyrical boldness, both fearless and vulnerable leaving no stone unturned. She effortlessly manifests an eclectic and harmonious vibe and transports her fans to what she refers to as a throw back. "Just think Diana Ross in Mahogany with Grace Jones’s fearlessness mixed with the ancient Pharaoh's Daughter. Bring it up to date with what’s going on socially, globally and in hip-hop and you'll find me standing there adjusting my A Cup bra waiting to hit the mike." She embodies the standard of the singers from yesteryears through invigorating vocals with thought induced messages that silhouette charismatic, rhythmically charged production. This is the formula which blazes the trail for her brand of melodic global flow.

"Don't call it a comeback! I've been here for years," is what LL Cool J told the world in the early 90's. This exclamation seems appropriately fitting for a woman who has been on the scene since 1995. Kim is not just another new face in a sea of female songbirds with head wraps and incense behind their ears. Kim's music created its own trademark and her live performances created their own audience.

During her tenure with The Black Eyed Peas, Kim began to grow artistically as a producer and writer, learning how to play the guitar and reconnecting with the violin. She soon captured the attention of executives at Interscope Records with whom she was signed to in 1998 off of a five song, four track demo she produced in her apartment. But it was no surprise to Kim when she was dropped by Interscope in 1999 out of fear that her, "music wasn't black enough." The release from Interscope was a God send and provided the ammunition for Kim's first independent solo release, Surrender to Her Sunflower in 2000. The LA Weekly praised the debut by saying, "Hill's Surrender to Her Sunflower is a testament to her marvelous vocal and song writing talent... the album features the singer's dexterous soprano gliding across a song expanse of laid-back, sensuous soul." The video for "Sunshine" featured appearances from Les Nubians and appeared in regular rotation on MTV Europe and BET which Kim produced and co-directed. Before she knew it, the young girl who traveled to Los Angeles with $36 in her pocket was rocking packed houses, such as SOB’s in New York and the Viper Room in Los Angeles.

On Hill's second CD masterpiece, Suga Hill, the scribe and soloist was nominated by the LA Weekly for Best Contemporary Blues/R&B Artist in 2001, 2002 & 2003. This ultimately created an illustrious following from LA to London, generating a buzz and reputation as a do it