My Sistas, My Sistas…

LaurynHill

See, when folks throw around expressions like “I’ll pray for you,” it really ought to be done with positive energy and good vibes, not in a condemning nature.

And it is with a sister like Lauryn Hill, who was sentenced today to three months in jail for tax evasion and who has since signed a new deal with SONY in order to pay off her $1 million debt, that I can sincerely say for her: “I’ll pray for you.”

So, this track, titled “Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix),” was produced under duress, according to Lauryn’s tumblr:

Here is a link to a piece that I was ‘required’ to release immediately, by virtue of the impending legal deadline. I love being able to reach people directly, but in an ideal scenario, I would not have to rush the release of new music… but the message is still there. In light of Wednesday’s tragic loss (of former label mate Chris Kelly), I am even more pressed to YELL this to a multitude that may not understand the cost of allowing today’s unhealthy paradigms to remain unchecked!

Sigh. I really don’t know what went wrong, but I really felt saddened when I learned the news today of her sentence. See, I’m one of those folks who grew up, not just on soul, but on hip-hop, and her The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album got me through some tough times when I was working on my dissertation as a doctoral student. Lauryn, for me, represented the “truth.” Her flow was so fierce, and she could sing. And she wrote powerful messages about love, about religion, about racism, about community-building, about politics. She was deep back in the day.  And, she was poised – poised I tell you! – to dominate the pop culture scene the way Beyonce is doing now. At the height of her popularity, after winning Grammys for her defining album, she had been offered movie roles in The Bourne Identity, The Matrix, Beloved, you name it. She was a dark-skinned beauty who wore her hair natural, and her beauty was recognized and celebrated in mainstream media!

But, something happened. It seemed like she couldn’t handle the fame, she got religion, got involved with one of Bob Marley’s sons, gave birth to six children, and just disappeared. You know how long we in the soul/hip-hop community had been waiting for her post-Miseducation album, which was never forthcoming? And, no, her Unplugged thing does not count!

We waited in vain, obviously. In fact, this year will mark the 15th anniversary of Miseducation. Never, while writing my dissertation with Lauryn’s voice in the background, would I have predicted that, 15 years after such demonstrable Genius!, that she’d be getting sentenced to jail!

Y’all, I can’t! I just can’t!

Why are my sistas messing up? I mean, last year, when waiting – again, in vain – for Whitney to get her act together, she ended up dead. And now, another sista, whose music meant so much to me, is going to end up in jail.

Meanwhile, Beyonce is “shocked” that the public reacted so angrily over her recent trip to Cuba. I hope she’s paying attention since she’s been making a few missteps this year.

Maybe it’s a good thing that the idols I’m now enamored with, like David, are safe enough to not make the same kinds of mistakes (or who won’t get targeted in the same way).  At least, we can only hope. Maybe it’s a good thing they’re doing their own thing under the radar.

I guess I’m just deeply saddened that someone I once admired would meet this kind of end. And while I’m glad we’ve finally gotten some new music, the idea that she signed a “deal with the devil” (y’all don’t know – SONY was called “the devil” by Michael Jackson, and Prince once called himself a “slave” when he couldn’t get out of a contract with them) and still couldn’t wrangle a “Get Out of Jail” free card after all that, just makes me really rethink this thing called Music and what it is doing to our artists.

Yes, they mess up and make mistakes, but why? How can they be saved? And if I buy Lauryn’s new music, am I supporting her or am I supporting SONY? She talks about our “Neurotic Society,” but is this simply a plea for help for her own neurosis or a play on everyone assuming she’s crazy/neurotic (when society is “crazy,” as she raps, what does crazy really mean)?

I’m just going to pray for all these sistas who seem to be having meltdowns, and self-destructing, so publicly. I wish the artists I admired had proven to be as strong as the music they gave us.

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Posted on May 6, 2013, in music. Bookmark the permalink. 37 Comments.

  1. Oh my goodness, another gem Hg. You need to write a book! I would buy it in a New York minute!

  2. hell0g0rge0us

    Hi CQ, I do have a book out, which I mentioned a while back. The title: BODY AS EVIDENCE: MEDIATING RACE, GLOBALIZING GENDER (check for it on Amazon). 🙂

    • Oh my goodness, how did I miss that, thank you.

    • Is Body as Evidence, Mediating Race Globalizing Gender your book? Had to ask because I don’t know your real name.

    • Shanny in Australia

      I always wondered what your area of speciality was HG. I’m surprised I guessed right! lol But perhaps I didn’t really guess right, maybe you have told us here before and my subconcious remembered….?
      Your blog and your book appear to tie in beautifully from what I have seen on Amazon. 🙂

    • WOW Peter! That video was powerful, moving, touching, and yet uplifting. Thanks so much for sharing. I will definitely be heading to itunes to buy his song. He has such a soothing, comforting voice.

    • Really touching and amazing video. Thanks for posting Peter.

  3. I sat down to comment on the deep and insightful post from HG, and got distracted by the video Peter posted.
    its sad to see the state the music industry and many of the artists are in, it also made me realize it isnt a new phenom, it has been that way for a long, long time. I grew up enjoying a lot of different “soul” music, but did I really understand the true meaning of “Soul” Im not so sure I did.

    • Hey Candy, I’m curious to read your thoughts about David going the more soulful route. For me, I’m so ready for him to come back to his music career that I will take just about anything,lol.
      Yeah the state of the music industry isn’t new. It is a real hard business, but I feel that the artists that are able to be realistic, stay strong, but still be able to work well with others with some amount of flexibility and be able to know who they are, might be able to survive and become big success without give up their souls to the industry, but then again, what the heck do I know, lol.
      I just like discussing David’s career and this site gives me the freedom to do so.

  4. Thanks for the post! I always enjoy your thoughts even though I’m more of a lurker here. I definitely feel you about Lauryn Hill. Loved her back in the day! Miseducation was an AMAZING album and for a while everything she touched seemed poised for greatness. And yet, she always seemed to be one that was just unhappy and determined to self-destruct. Really sad. BUT, I hope for her sake and ours that we’ll get to witness the Resurrection of Lauryn Hill. We can dream, can’t we? 🙂

  5. Thanks for posting the video, Peter. Troye Sivan is wonderful. My daughters have long been fans of the Greens.

  6. hell0g0rge0us

    Watching The Voice and just have to say: no one will ever do “Imagine” like David! 🙂

  7. Hg, just ordered your book, I’m sure it will be very interesting, can’t wait.

  8. Thanks for the Lauryn Hill post; I needed this. I never understood the path she chose post “Miseducation” but I guess that’s just the way it is. If “Neurotic Society” represents her new sound, she’s in trouble. Now I must run off and find the Voice’s “Imagine” so I can compare it to the one and only.

    • I found it. It’s good, BUT, it doesn’t make me want to find and join that brotherhood of man D sings about. 😉

      • I liked Garrett’s version.

        David needs to produce new “moments,” which will probably take at least two years, if at all possible any longer.

      • Yes, it will be great when David is back and can have new musical moments.

  9. One thing that is interesting about The Voice is that you can see how high these songs they perform chart on iTunes. The young 16 yr. old country singer Danielle charted the highest last night by far. Garrett’s version of Imagine did not make the top 100 on the chart but I bet he does stay. But not a chance he will win this.

    • I did not really dislike it or like it. Kind of just did not care. lol. I really like Michelle on Usher’s team. Loved her version of “True Colors” and she is really what the voice should be all about. Usher did a good job coaching her too. Looks like Danielle has a good shot at winning but it could change.

  10. LOL. A person can surely only get away with saying that David’s Imagine is “the one and only” on a David blog, Desertrat. Our family is made up of Beatles fans who appreciate both. (But I prefer David’s even if I had John’s in my collection much sooner. Just don’t say so outside the walls or my house or the confines of a D blog.)

    • LOL, I still remember back in 2008 all the Lennon fans that felt D altered the melody too much.

  11. Tired of Lurking

    USA Today agreed with D blogs – “Don’t sing Imagine unless you’re David Archuleta” – http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2013/05/07/the-voice-recap-may-7/2142975/

  12. hell0g0rge0us

    Sigh. Why do I get the feeling Candice Glover will get Melinda Doolittled tomorrow? 😦

  13. Really? I hope not – every person I know thinks she is the best and should win (they are not the voting-types, though). Although, as we know, she doesn’t have to “win” to win!

  14. I haven’t followed Idol closely but I think either Kree or Candice are going home; I think Angie will win. Re. Candice, I just listened to her version of “Somewhere”; I thought LaToya London did it better some years ago.

  15. per this article, fox is going to axe all 4 idol judges and lythgoe. to me, they should just cancel the show.

    http://tv.yahoo.com/news/insider-american-idol-axe-4-judges-part-massive-002433699.html

  16. They need to do something with AI as I did not like it all this season. Maybe they should cancel it but I still think it has a few seasons left. I am not really a Candice fan although she has a good voice. I do think that Kree is the most marketable as she is a country artist that lives in Nashville and already has connections with some big name country artists. I don’t think TPTB want her to win for some reason based on the way they judge her. I really don’t care much who wins but I think Angie will win it. I find The Voice way more entertaining even with all it’s flaws.

  17. American Idol won’t be canceled – at least not yet. It is still the highest rated show on Fox and generates a lot of ad revenue. It is not event T.V. though like it use to be.

  18. I agree with you Marie, I too think Kree wil win. Idol has become predicable, they have gone from the wgwg to the country singers. Hope I am wrong,

  19. Don’t watch AI, but Marie you maybe right about country singers. Country is so hot right (actually I think today’s country is more rock and roll, lol) that it stands to reason that there is a lot of country fans watching that show.

    • hell0g0rge0us

      Country may be hot right now, but it has been one music genre that hasn’t sold as well overseas as other genres. Wonder why that is?

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