On Ms Hill
Post by Duana
Yesterday wasn't supposed to be anything special - except for recovering from a laaaaaaate post-Smut-Soiree night. When I've stayed up too late I feel fine in the morning - it's 3 PM that absolutely kills me. I feel like my face might never form an expression other than 'vaguely undead' again. But yesterday at 3 PM I found myself grinning. An NPR interview with Lauryn Hill found its way to my twitter feed.
No, read it again. An interview with Lauryn. Hill.
My Lauryn Hill love comes from really humble beginnings. I loved her in 'Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit', as Rita Watson, the misunderstood tough girl who just wanted to sing. When that movie came out in 1993, 14-year-old me was a desperately out-of-touch choir geek (thus my love for it endures - Lainey's documented it more than once). But the movie did the improbable - it primed me to believe Lauryn's music was for me. For everyone.
And lord, was it. Remember 1998? That album being played front-to-back in every dorm room, road trip, basement hangout? It just made so much sense. Guys, she was singing about choosing to keep her baby and 'every ghetto, every city' and it spoke to all of us somehow. She did the thing you hope every star will do, that so few do - she became my smart, no-bullsh*t best friend.
And then she went away. First I missed her - and then I was mad. Where was she? I needed her to sing more, to guide me as I ran into more problems. I still play 'Miseducation' constantly but I wondered whether there were more messages she had for me. Some 12 years later, everyone of our generation, as pointed out in the NPR article, is waiting on the return of Ms. Hill. And it took me a while to figure out why. She's honest, sure. But more than that, she had all this stuff - this voice, this success, these stories of growing up in New Jerusalem - and she was so hopeful. She believed people were better, stronger, sweeter than they seemed. When she lectures on "Doo Wop", you wanted to turn to everyone around you and say 'She's right. Why are we acting this way?' Her songs were like a promise - things are going to get better.
So. The interview. Before I'd even heard it, I sent an all-call email out. Dean wrote back "Is it gonna make me sad"?
It doesn't. It can't. She sounds lucid, erudite - and excited. Though the interviewer admits she prefers to be called 'Ms. Hill', there's no trace of the rumours we all heard over the years. That she was crazy. That her voice, like Whitney's, was gone. That her many children had made her stop caring. But no. She says the time for recording again has now come.
So. A get-together with a long-lost friend. Always awkward and trepidatious. I want to believe but I don't want to put my trust in her because ...what if? What if it never happens? What if it does, and the gap between her and I is too big? We haven't hung out in awhile. I've pedestal-ized her, for sure. And if I was her? And people were writing like me, hoping the next album was going to be near-lifechanging, a second time? I'd hide.
But maybe. Maybe it can happen. I want to believe. Do you?
The NPR article is here...
NB. For those new to the site, Duana is a very good friend of mine and contributes often to the site, though not as often as I hope because there’s the matter of her proper writing job. From time to time though she takes a break from her proper writing job to muse on pop culture, usually when I beg her or sometimes when a particular story has moved her.
Photos from Dimitrios Kambouris/Gettyimages.com