You see the photo so you know I’m going to write about the incomparable Lauryn Hill so I’ll get right to it…
Who among us wasn’t a fan of one of the biggest hits of 1996, “Killing Me Softly” by The Fugees? Huh? Who? Nobody, that’s who. It was all over the radio; everyone loved it. They loved the album it was spawned from too; The Score was #1 on the Billboard 200 at the time and has since gone on to sell over 18 million copies worldwide. An impressive feat for a sophomore release, don’t ya think? Why is it so beloved both then and now? I’ll tell you why…because it was innovative. It was the rap without the crap. It had everything I loved about rap and hip hop without all the bullshit about bitches, hoes and thuggin’. It truly was one of the most brilliant collaborative efforts of that decade by far. It’s one of those “take you back” albums for me because I can remember playing it over and over in my car until my cassette player (oh yes, I said cassette, folks) crapped out in my ’84 Camaro. Good times, good times.
However, as much as I enjoyed The Score, I didn’t fall head over heels for The Fugees. It was Lauryn Hill who stood out like a shiny diamond on a dirt road. She was instantly captivating…an immediate star in my eyes. I’d never heard anyone sing as well as they rapped and vice versa. She was intelligent and talented…strong and clearly independent. I’m not ashamed to say that I was a bit smitten with my overall perception of her. In fact, I think she may have even been my first celebrity girl crush.
If that was my crush moment then it’s fair to say that my true love affair with L Boogie (who prefers to be addressed as Ms. Hill these days) began the moment I pressed play two years later and heard Lauryn’s soul pour from the speakers on the tracks of her solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. I was literally knocked out by what I heard from start to finish on that album. There are tracks on it that remain classified to this day as some of my personal “ingrained refrains”…that is to say that they are among the songs of my lifetime that help define who I am, help remind me who I was, where I’ve been and how far I’ve come and the tunes that teach me who I want to be. I was in awe of the unashamed honesty and candor in her music. The integrity and courage of her spirit was apparent and astounding throughout. I’m still in awe just thinking about it now.
This is the part where I tell you that after sweeping the Grammy’s with her debut, Lauryn Hill took a bit of a mental health holiday. This is where I relay that even at the height of her career she opted not to sacrifice her integrity for fortune and fame. This is where I tell you that she had an epiphany of sorts and decided to wave the white flag in the direction of the recording industry and be true to herself and focus on her family. This is where I explain that but for a few appearances (notable as they were) scattered throughout the past 4 years, Ms. Hill has been a virtual recluse. This is where I share that all these things make me both selfishly sad and enormously relieved…sad that there has essentially been no music from her since Miseducation and relieved that I’m not the only one who has ever experienced moments of requiring monumental change in my life and unapologetically taking the time to do it.
At this point in the post, I’m certain it’s clear that Lauryn Hill ranks at the tippy-tip top of my list of favorite, fearless females of all time. So imagine with me if you will the degree of giddiness I experienced when I found out that after much stalking on the part of Joss, she’d agreed to lend her signature sound to a track called “Music” on Introducing Joss Stone. Now go ahead and fast forward three months and conjure in your mind the vision of me elated to learn that the Fugees’ first lady contributed an original song to the soundtrack of the new animated feature “Surf’s Up” that will be draining the wallets of parents everywhere all summer long beginning June 8th.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the return of Ms. Lauryn Hill!," exclaimed Liza Richardson, an avid surfer, DJ, and music supervisor for "Surf's Up." "Apparently, she related to Big Z's story -- reaching the top, checking out for a while, doing some soul searching and re-emerging with joy -- and wrote and recorded a real celebratory summer jam session for 'Surf' Up.' We're glad to have Lauryn back where she belongs!"
I absolutely LOVE this song and I don’t give one iota what anyone else has to say about it. I’m tuning out anyone who is bitching that it took 10 years for her to put anything out and this is what she’s come up with. I don’t hear you…la, la, la, la, la. Considering that she’s now a mother to four young children who will undoubtedly be super stoked to hear their mom perform a song in a movie and given the nature and lyrical content of the song, I think it’s a masterpiece and it has become my addiction for the week.
Lauryn has also announced some tour dates but to be safe, don’t call it a comeback. I won’t be fortunate enough to attend any of these shows but for those of you who live where she’ll be performing, for the sake of goodness go see the woman play! Check below to see if Lauryn will be coming to a venue near you.