Lauryn Hill and Nas were in Toronto earlier this month and it was the first time in 15 years that Lauryn was live in Toronto without me there in the crowd, crying and screaming along to every lyric. Every time she’s in town, I show up. I’ve written before about my allegiance to Ms. Hill. I’ve defended her habitual lateness and her affinity for changing up her songs on the fly. I will always defend Lauryn Hill. She is a living legend. In my opinion, if you are lucky enough to see Ms. Hill live, you should just bow down and be grateful. However, Nas is also a living legend and he shows up on time and does his hits the way he’s done them for years, in a way that you can sing along to. So, when the two are performing back-to-back, the comparisons are inevitable and even understandable.
My friend Denise was at the Toronto show. I didn’t go because I had just spent all my money on Kendrick Lamar tickets (are we still saying #firstworldproblems?). Denise reported back that Nas was amazing but Lauryn came off as a bit erratic and unpolished, her songs barely recognizable. If you’ve been to a Lauryn show in the last decade, you know this is pretty normal. I call it the Ms. Hill Roulette. She was also about 40 minutes late but if we’re grading Lauryn on a curve, that basically means she was on time. I saw both Lauryn and Nas in 2011 and she was two hours late. So, that’s better right? Due to Lauryn’s lateness and the fact that her shows can either be a breath of fresh air or a sporadic mess, depending on who you ask, the reviews for the tour have been mixed.
Over the weekend, Lauryn and Nas were in Miami. Lauryn told the crowd that she had a cold but showed up anyway because, she joked, “If Miami can come out after a hurricane...'" The reviews for the Miami show were solid, with the only critique being that Lauryn couldn’t quite hit the notes she used to in If I Ruled the World (Imagine That).
Last month was the 19th anniversary of my favourite album and one of the greatest of all time, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Other than making me feel old, the anniversary is a reminder of how long Ms. Hill has been doing this. Her voice might not be the same. The musical arrangements might not be the same but the iconic lyrics are. Ms. Hill is still an unparalleled artist touring and doing the damn thing two decades later. I will always defend her.
On that note, I dare you to say something about her outfit. I want the whole thing.