Lauryn Hill didn’t let a jail sentence stand in the way of career progress: Her new single, “Consumerism,” was released last Thursday, the day before she got out of a Connecticut minimum security facility.
Hill was let go a little early after serving almost all of her three-month sentence for tax evasion. Her attorney said that she was released early for a variety of factors, but will be on one year of probation with a period of home confinement.
She released “Consumerism” on her Tumblr, and on Twitter.
— Ms. Lauryn Hill (@MsLaurynHill) October 4, 2013
Hill said that she wanted to get the record out while she was finishing up her sentence, because it reflects what she went through before and during her incarceration.
“Consumerism is part of some material I was trying to finish before I had to come in. We did our best to eek [sic] 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 its level.”
– Ms. Lauryn Hill
A message was posted on Hill’s Tumblr while she was in jail, thanking her fans for their support.
“I have known since very young to look for the purpose and lesson in everything, including the trials. Although it has taken some adjustment, I cannot deny the favor I have encountered while in here, and general warm reception from a community of people who despite their circumstances, have found unique ways to make the best of them. Thank you for the letters of concern and well wishes that I receive in the mail every day. Although I may not be able to write everyone back, please know that they have been received, read, acknowledged, and appreciated. With Love back, MLH”
Lauryn has been open on her social media accounts, mostly her Tumblr, about her case, even before it went to trial. She claimed that she intended to pay the approximately $1 million in back taxes she was found to owe, but hadn’t been able to do it yet. She posted some rather rambling messages before her trial, saying that she’d “gone underground” to protect her family, and to avoid “being manipulated and controlled by a media protected military industrial complex with a completely different agenda.”
She did the time anyway, and signed with Sony before she began serving her sentence, mostly to pay the tax bill, she said, but also so she could keep making music for the public.
“It took years for me to get out of the parasitic’ dynamic of my youth, and into a deal that better reflects my true contribution as an artist, and (purportedly) gives me the control necessary to create a paradigm suitable for my needs. I have been working towards this for a long time, not just because of my current legal situation, but because I am an artist, I love to create, and I need the proper platform to do so.”
I’m not sure what’s going on with Lauryn personally, or what truly drove her financial decisions, but what I do know is that she is an incredible singer. If you’ve never listened to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, do yourself a favor and change that. (It’s also only a little more than six bucks on Amazon right now, so there’s no reason not to, really.) I loved her music with The Fugees, and her early solo work. My personal jury is still out on Letters From Exile. “Consumerism” is rapid-fire rap to my ear, more than anything, which I enjoy in general, but I’m used to more melody from her, so I’ll have to give it some more listens. Her voice sounds deeper than I remember, and the backing vocals are more electronic than usually suits me. Considering her path in recent years, I’d be surprised if she hadn’t shaken things up a little bit, though, and I am a big fan of artists who evolve over time.
Lauryn stepped out of the musical limelight several years ago to have six children (five with Rohan Marley, son of Bob Marley), and recent news about her has focused on her legal woes. She seems ready to get back to music business now, though, and I’m pleased. She has been held accountable for her financial choices, has done her time, and hopefully has her personal business worked out. I’m ready to listen to her sing again, and from what “Consumerism” shows, Letters From Exile should be an interesting ride.
Image credit: Pacific Coast News