Talib Kweli Pens An Essay In Defense Of Lauryn Hill

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Talib Kweli has issued a heartfelt defense of Lauryn Hill, which takes writer Stefan Schumacher to task for the contents of his recent Medium article - a litany of biting criticisms - about the celebrated singer and founding member of The Fugees. Schumacher's piece entitled It’s Finally Time to Stop Caring About Lauryn Hill: I used to love her. I don’t anymore. is a top to bottom breakdown of his issues with Hill's live show that includes a number of arguably relevant topics inserted to support his complaints by highlighting what he considers to be her failures. Schumacher's argument is made in spite of Hill's massive and historically groundbreaking successes. Talib Kweli - a longtime friend and contemporary of Ms. Hill's - gives a bit of insight into their friendship and her musical evolution in his piece, which counters Schumacher's piece and questions his motives. Kweli also offers a closer examination of the fine line between constructive criticism of musicians and the trend of habitual line-stepping that has occasionally found writers and critics wading deep into the realm of disrespect and presumptive conjecture in order to ease the pain of thwarted nostalgia by firing shots at the artists that once sat atop their list of favorites.

Around the early 2000s Lauryn Hill stepped away from the limelight to focus on spirituality and family. That, to me, is a respectable decision. When the Fugees reunited briefly to perform at Dave Chappelle’s Block Party in 2004, someone in the crowd yelled out “Lauryn where you been?” Ms. Hill responded by pointing at one of her children and saying “that’s where I been.”

It also seemed like the pressure of being so famous was weighing on her. The Lauryn Hill I knew at 19 was never into the hype of being a celebrity. She was an artist, and it seems like the celebrity worship she was surrounded by pulled her away from being an artist. When she did show up for shows during this period, she was heavily criticized for her appearance, her performance choices and for sometimes arriving late. Fans who claimed to love Lauryn during the Miseducation era turned their back on her. This mass abandonment of one of our heroes allowed a white, male writer named Stefan Schumacher to think it was OK to pen an article titled “It’s Finally Time To Stop Caring About Lauryn Hill: I Used To Love Her. I Don’t Anymore.”

When you pay for a Lauryn Hill concert you are not paying for her to do what you want, you are paying for her to do what she wants. She is not an iPod nor is she a trained monkey. She doesn’t have to do her hits and she doesn’t have to do the songs the way you want to hear them. She doesn’t owe you that. The world does not revolve around you, and you ain’t gotta like it. Get over yourself. If you have a negative experience at her concert, go home, put on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and the next time she does come through your town, don’t go to her concert. Problem solved. Just because you had a negative experience at a Lauryn Hill show doesn’t mean her contribution to the world is invalid or deserves to be disrespected.

Read Talib Kweli's full response via medium.com. Read Stefan Schumacher's article via medium.com. Keep up with Lauryn Hill via mslaurynhill.com.