Thursday, August 23, 2007
This morning, I received a picture of Lauryn Hill taken at a concert in Brooklyn, NY. It was a very unflattering comparison between Ms. Hill and Homey the Clown. Unfortunately, there was no denying the comparison.
This afternoon, I posed a question to STO. "Am I the only black person that finds Lauryn Hill's sanctimony just a little irritating?" I was then asked to elaborate because, well, it's Steve, and you can't pose a question like that without it requiring some elaboration. But since I'm me, I am very good about conveying genuine emotion, be it love, hate, or irritation. What I am not so good at, is giving the details as to why. At least, not all the time. It is easy to explain why I hate liver, or why I love my friends. To explain an irritation with someone you love is a much more daunting task.
On more than one occasion, I've found myself in the midst of the debate on whether or not she is a musical genius, or if that was an invalid theory because she only has one solo album to her credit. So last night, I sat down and listened, really listened, to "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill." Not only did every cut resonate me, but some made me misty. Twice, I closed my eyes and was transported to "then." To accomplish that is genius.
But this new Lauryn, I don't dig at all. And it has nothing to do with her wacked out clothes, or her "different" music, or any of the other things people pick at like scabs. It's her. Lauryn was always beautiful to me. What made her such wasn't the way she wore her hair, or her ability to spit some of the illest verses ever uttered (period - I will not use the "by a female qualifier"). It was the light she had in her eyes because she was doing and saying something that came from her heart. You got the feeling that she was sharing an experience with you.
Not so with new Lauryn. Now, you get the sense that she's not sure we will understand or be interested in her experience, so she placates us with what she thinks we want. Unfortunately, we want her creativity. I would rather she shaved her head, played the cowbell and celebrated it than furnish us with the musical equivalent of a pity screw.
The going opinion is that she alienates her fans, but I believe that's only a by-product of her being alienated from herself. She is still at odds with where she's going and where she's been. She doesn't seem to realize that she is timeless; an entity altogether classic and and ceaselessly relevant.