“Music is supposed to inspire. How come we aint getting no higher?”
Lauryn Hill was released from jail yesterday. She served 3 months at a minimum security prison in Danbury, Connecticut for tax evasion but even that didn’t stop her from being vocal during her time there. Earlier this summer she penned an Open Letter where she addressed a range of topics including her approach to music saying:
“Much of my music, if not all of it, is about Love, a therapeutic resolve created in response to the lack of messages encouraging people like me toward free moral agency. Helping to ameliorate this condition has never been addressed through the political arena alone. It is a sacrificial work that doesn’t simply happen between the hours of 9 to 5 or Monday through Friday, but when inspiration leads us to avail ourselves for the Truth that needs to be said. Unlike the system too often contrarily demonstrates, we believe that people can be and should be helped, and that trauma should not be criminalized but acknowledged, healed and dealt with. This takes awareness, sensitivity and a level of freedom in my opinion the system lacks. And if we don’t know or understand how to do it, then we humbly refer to a higher authority.”
She’s seemingly emerged from her time on the inside with even more to say. In a newly released track called Consumerism – which appears to be from an album called “Part 1: Letters from Exile”- she addresses a host of “isms” ranging from hedonism to capitalism to skepticism. The chorus consists of a child-like voice singing “self-destruct”. In a statement released Tuesday evening she explains:
“‘Consumerism’ is part of some material I was trying to finish before I had to come in. We did our best to eek out a mix via verbal and emailed direction, thanks to the crew of surrogate ears on the other side. Letters From Exile is material written from a certain space, in a certain place. I felt the need to discuss the underlying socio-political, cultural paradigm as I saw it. I haven’t been able to watch the news too much recently, so I’m not hip on everything going on. But inspiration of this sort is a kind of news in and of itself, and often times contains an urgency that precedes what happens. I couldn’t imagine it not being relevant. Messages like these I imagine find their audience, or their audience finds them, like water seeking it’s level.”
It’s not easy listening but that’s part of why I love Lauryn Hill so much – she’s always making her audience think. To me this song reveals an artist very much in control of what she’s trying to say and unapologetic about the way she’s saying it. This isn’t a radio hit– it’s a commentary on the state of things.
Good luck Ms. Hill.