I had to see it for myself. Although I’m not sure I can say I’m glad that I did. Sure I’ve read all of the scandalous stories so my expectations weren’t incredibly high. But last night, Lauryn Hill did the unthinkable; she dissed Brooklyn.
The evening show, held in Wingate Park, started with a late opening set by a feeble Sean Kingston. Seriously, how did this kid get a record contract? Please don’t let the young ones sing unless they have talent, they will indeed get their feelings hurt. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but Stevie Wonder was a phenom. I know it’s a tough act to follow, but it is possible.
Almost two hours passed before Lauryn’s back up band made it onto the stage to jam. That’s right, her back-up band; they played for a good fifteen minutes before Lauryn decided to grace us with her presence. I’m sorry but you are no James Brown, what do you need a theme song for? When Lauryn finally appeared, it was to sing an unrecognizable song that was practically inaudible. Nobody had a clue as to what she was saying. She was also sweating profusely a la Whitney Houston, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt in regards to any illegal substance use. She was wearing what appeared to be layers of extraneous fabric in the middle of August.
She paused to speak to us. “I wanna see if any of you remember meeee!” Well, let’s see, you have filled a stadium to capacity, with people hanging onto the bordering fence to get a glimpse of you – ah yes, I think we remember you. Who do you think we’re here for, Sean Kingston?!
People in the audience began to talk.
“Crack hits hard.”
“She’s completely lost her voice.”
“She’s gone crazy.”
Chunks of the crowd started to leave. After staying for three songs or so, I felt sad for her. My friends and I left as she struggled to sing “When It Hurts So Bad.” It was beyond painful. Before I turned my back on Lauryn, I heard her croak, “I tried, and I tried, and I tried/ to keep him in my life.” We were near the gate, when I began to hear a pathetic rendition of “Sinnerman.” Nina Simone she is not.
Truth be told, I don’t think it is drugs. I think it’s a false sense of grandeur and unwarranted diva antics, the idea that she can live off of one CD and still be a legend like Bob Marley. Sometimes this works. But when you disrespect your fans like this, I have nothing to say.
I still have a picture of Lauryn up in my bedroom at my parents’ house. I still enjoy listening to Miseducation and The Score. I also believe that Ms. Hill has indeed lost her voice, in which case perhaps this is all any of us can do, remember the Lauryn from back when, a woman who lived for her children and was crazy in love.
This is one of my favorites.
Lauryn Hill – To Zion
Here's a recent interview