When I first saw Lauryn Hill, she was singing “Killing me softly” with her band –before they split- “the Fugees”. I detested the music video at once but thought she had a voice like the angels. I immediately forgot about her afterward. As of today, I read that she has just been released from prison, as of October 4th. She was released few days earlier than her three-months sentence for a lot of reasons, among which is “good behavior”. Great!
I googled Lauryn and came with the most amazing facts. The moment she was released from prison, she posted an update, containing her new track “Consumerism”. The imprisonment had not been in vain, I take. Harsh that it was, the fruitfulness of the experiment is apparent in Lauryn’s message which accompanied the track on Lauryn’s personal tumblr account. In the message she talked about how the track will be “relevant” and “will find the proper audience”.
So Lauryn’s back in action so soon? Probably she missed the lights but also she missed sharing her art. After her huge success with the Grammy Award-winning album, The Score, which sold six million copies in the US alone, Lauryn did not stop. She followed up with her first solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Not surprisingly the album also became a huge hit and received critical acclaim for its original music, feminist lyrics and neo soul voice. Lauryn’s African American and Caribbean influences gave her a spot-on uniqueness that was very palpable in her song choices. After that success, however, Lauryn had become detached from the music scene. She was dissatisfied with the music industry and those who run it.
Confinement, isolation and seeking spirituality took the best of Lauryn. She was so angry at her public image and how it tied her up. She wanted out of the chain of fame. She withdrew from the society and the music scene. In her cocoon she stopped watching television or following her passion with focusing on music. She instead joined a cult, led by a “spiritual advisor” named Brother Anthony. One cannot for sure say that Brother Anthony was the one behind Lauryn’s violent and hostile behavior in the years that followed her isolation, but we assume he played a great part. Another part that owed to that was Lauryn’s own emotional breakdown. She felt like she was not strong enough to confront her demons. Her outrage at the Catholic Church in 2003 during one of her performances was rapidly marking a decline in both Lauryn’s career and life.
In 2012, Hill was charged with tax evasion for failing to pay tax returns for the years 2005, 2006 and 2007. In a long explanatory post on tumblr, Lauryn stated that she had to live underground because she rejected pop culture’s ugly climate of racism, hostility, sexism, among many other demons. She added that she only stopped paying her taxes when she withdrew from the society and that she would later pay those taxes. In June, 2012, Lauryn pleaded guilty to the tax evasion charges and was sentenced to serve three months in prison, then she would serve three months house arrest afterwards as part of a year-supervised probation.
After her release, Lauryn Hill didn’t take a break. She released her new beautiful single “Consumerism” and will work non-stop on her upcoming project Letters From Exile. Will she kill us softly again? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Written by: Jaylan Salah