The Femcee Letters: An Open Letter to Lauryn Hill (Pt. 2)Posted by Burmy on 11/19/10 | Filed under Features, The Femcee Letters, Lauryn Hill
Previously on "The Femcee Letters...
"Dear Lauryn, If this were a live-audience TV special, I'd have trouble starting this because of how loud the applause would be." "High school friend Prakazrel Michel (better known as "Pras) approached you about joining a group he was starting up, where his cousin Wyclef Jean was also a part. Immediately your group set it off, calling itself the Refugee Camp (or "Fugees" for short)...you three got together again to record what many consider to be hip-hop's greatest group album ever, 'The Score'." (For part 1 in its entirety, click here.)
And now, Part 2...
Then, on July 21, 2001, a small crowd was fortunate enough to be the group which heard your new material. Your quote during that performance filled in every blank we needed: "Fantasy is what people want, but reality is what they need. I've just retired from the fantasy part." Sure enough, music in its purest form prevailed, withmost songs featuring only your voice and acoustic guitar accompaniment. That performance became an album of its own: "MTV Unplugged No. 2.0". Whereas "Miseducation" was widely praised, "Unplugged"s reviews depended on the personal mindstate. Those who gave positive reviews would praise your guitarwork and the fitting nature of the raw, stripped-down sound, whereas the criticism came from its unfinished nature and vocal raspiness (if you ask me, I'm
just a fan of music just for music's sake-at least your heart's still in it). Nonetheless, it went platinum in four weeks, a testament to a fanbase's true devotion to any work by an artist they truly admire. In addition, "Mystery of Iniquity" was interpolated in Kanye West's '04 breakout single "All Falls Down," leaving another career launched to fruition thanks to your skills.
With this string of success, you know I was stoked for some more. Being a practicing Catholic (which I mentioned earlier in my letter to Foxy Brown), I was especially excited to hear you at the Christmas benefit concert at the Vatican on December 13, 2003. Yet when I tuned in, what I heard was more comparable to Sinead O'Connor's performance on Saturday Night Live than much else. While I myself take great sorrow that 4% of Catholic clergy (including my former archbishop) participate in the sex abuse crisis, I believe you set your target a bit too wide, since the 96% not involved took offense to your statement as well. Though I could go on and on defending my church, I need to stay on topic here, so all I will say is that it was likely something your spiritual advisor "Brother Anthony" (who those close to you say sounds more like a cult leader akin to Jones and Applewhite) told you to do. Therefore, let me draw the curtain of charity over the rest of this scene and move forward.
After that incident, I was lamenting your career's later decline. That is, until September 18, 2004 at Dave Chappelle's Block Party in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood (home to Aaliyah, Biggie, Hova, Norah Jones, Loso, Kim, GZA, Mos Def, Skyzoo, Kweli, Papoose, and Maino among numerous others), where you, Clef, and Pras reunited. Your a capella rendition of "Killing Me Softly" was the highlight, inspiring hope once again of a true reunion. From then until early 2006, slight hopes of reunion emerged, first at the 2005 BET Music Awards, then in a late '05 European tour, and finally at a Hollywood "Reunion Concert" exactly one week before I moved into my apartment. With the string of positivity, I was super-jazzed about a true reunion. Unfortunately, that soon fizzled as well, reportedly over your constant demands and chronic tardiness.
Various times in the last six years, you had flirted at a musical return, with not much progress stemming. From a $15 pay-per-view music video (which we could only view three times). Your recent tours often featured two-hour tardiness, exaggerated outfits, and unrecognizeable chants, with fans constantly booing, leaving early, and demanding their money back. At this point nobody knows whether or not you're still active, with you constantly writing and recording, but not much stemming from that. At this point I was (quite sadly) ready to write you off completely.
Until this year. Performing several of your earlier hits both in America and internationally, for the first time in several years we actually got a coherent comeback trail, with a June interview confirming your plans to truly make a full comeback. In late July, the previously-unreleased "Repercussions" leaked, the resulting buzz prompting your first Billboard release in ten years. Now that your life's back in order, imagine what an officially-sanctioned release track will chart nowadays! (I predict it will come very soon, toppling Dre's "Kush" from its future spot on the Billboard Hot 100).
So how do I sum it all up? Let me say this: While just about everyone hopes you'll start rapping again, even if your comeback is an all-sung set, we're still confident that truly good music we can enjoy will result (comparable to Cee-Lo Green's "The Lady Killer," only 10 times even better). As long as we continue to receive that straight-from-the-heart sound of making sure your life is your music, you'll always have a place in the hearts of us listeners. AMEN!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to decide what the future of this series is (if this is the end, you are truly a fitting way to go out!) Thank you so much for your time, and I wish you experience once again
all the joys this art provides!
P.S. To the fans: Well, this is the last installment before the original deadline of Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday" release. Now comes the big question: what should I do with this series? Should I keep going with the "Femcee Letters", or should I bow out and branch to other columns? Post your ideas either below or e-mail email@example.com.
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