Dear Ms. Lauryn Hill:
Did you really say to a judge about your refusal to file tax returns that, “I was put into a system I didn't know the nature of. … I'm a child of former slaves. I got into an economic paradigm and had that imposed on me.”
And: “I sold 50 million units …now I'm up here paying a tax debt. If that's not likened to slavery, I don't know what is.”
With a Gucci bag in tow at that! Lauryn, you are about as much a slave as I am a Xena, Warrior Princess. Frankly, if everyone had to pay taxes on the copy of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill when they bought it, you may just need to get over yourself and pay taxes on all of the fortune you’ve earned as a result.
Now, as you spend the next three months in prison, and after that, three more on house arrest, I imagine you’ll have all the time in the world to put a lot of things into perspective. I say this with love (if you don't know, WE LOVE YOU) particularly when it comes to your new music you are contractually obligated to deliver in due time: Please don’t come back singing to us as if you were sent to Guantanamo Bay.
As a matter of fact, before you even get back to music, take some time to truly reflect on the last decade of your life and where some of your actions have brought you. No, you didn’t choose to enter America’s “economic paradigm,” and yes, it was “imposed” on you—as it is on all of us. We all have to deal with life as it is versus the way we want it to be.
Even if your label has screwed you in the past (hello, music industry), you’ve still managed to attain more fortune and fame than most could ever imagine. That has afforded you the kind of access to people who could’ve easily aided you in giving Uncle a swift kick in the crotch. Households pulling in $50,000 a year aren’t as lucky.
Again, you are nobody’s Harriet Tubman with harmony. To the outsider looking in, it appears that your own negligence has now resulted in you leaving behind six kids for three months.
Please, stop blaming everyone else for your problems. Your fans gave you the success you sought. No one told you to hire a bunch of musicians and later deny them proper credit for their contributions to your work. No one told you to show up late to your shows and frustrate fans with your seeming entitlement. It was your decision to run your catalog in a washing machine full of Adderall, Red Bull, and regret–alienating your fan base and soiling your tour in the process.
The world could stand for the sort of social commentary your music used to be celebrated for. Still. Absolutely. What we don’t need, though, is another self-righteous person howling at the moon about everyone else’s misgivings without any acknowledgment of your own. Say, your latest single, which you explained was “required” to be released per your contract. The track sounds lovely, but your spoken word on speed delivery, not so much.
You sound so joyless. Bitter. Angry. That has its place, but why not on beat?
Before you come back, might I advise that you do yourself a solid and find a Frasier. As in a medically trained professional who can help you sort out whatever it is you’re going through. Iyanla is great, and maybe she can sing the My Life album with you and be your prayer partner, but me thinks if she can’t get Sheree Whitfield to admit stunting is a habit, I’m not sure she can “fix” you. And shout out to everybody’s God. Maybe they can all congregate and lay hands on you.
As much as we all miss your music, your passion, your beauty gracing the covers of magazines like EBONY, Rolling Stone and Harper’s Bazaar, if “Neurotic Society” and “taxation equal enslavement” talking points is going to be your deal, no thank you.
Michael Arceneaux is the author of the “The Weekly Read,” where on the surface the shade might make the culprit want to curse, but trust, it comes from a place of concern. Tweet him at @youngsinick.