Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Lauryn Hilliotheraphy

Lauryn Hilliotheraphy

For those of you who've been keeping up with Lauryn Hill's career, over the last couple of years she's resurfaced and has begun to perform again. Sometime after dropping her critically acclaimed solo album the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill she virtually disappeared from public life and became a recluse; not performing, recording or conducting any interviews. In a Tumblr post around 2012 L-Boogie stated that she had withdrawn from society to protect her family’s safety amid a “climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism.” Although her catalog and accomplishments are not many, she is peerless when it comes to the impact of her presence and the quality of her creative contributions. One of the concerns she has publicly voiced on various occasions, that many of us have seen voiced by others such as Nina Simone, is the cultural contradiction that has come along with her making those contributions within the context of this society and Capitalistic economy. As she's done in the past when her eccentric behavior had people speculating mental health issues, Lauryn Hill has recently demonstrated some consistent challenges making her performances on time. In regards to one of her most recent performances in Atlanta Georgia where she was over two hours late, she has this to say, in part, about the great deal of criticism she's received, "I don't show up late to shows because I don't care. And I have nothing but Love and respect for my fans. The challenge is aligning my energy with the time, taking something that isn't easily classified or contained, and trying to make it available for others. I don't have an on/off switch. I am at my best when I am open, rested, sensitive and liberated to express myself as truthfully as possible.To read her full explanation go HERE.

Hazrat Inayat Khan

In any creative artist's defense, I think it's important to understand that in parts of the East, what Lauryn Hill is striving to communicate about aligning her "energy with the time, taking something that isn't easily classified or contained, and trying to make it available for others" and "accommodate the vitality, spontaneity, and spirit that make the performances" is commonly understood. In parts of the East artists play when and if they feel like it, for however long they desire, and their listeners understand the essence of that creativity. If an artist is scheduled to play, say at sundown, and they decide not to play or come hours later, the people aren't upset or critical of them. One such artist was Hazrat Inayat Khan; a renown veena player, author and founder of the Sufi Order in the West. Even within an orchestra, conductors in the East are musicians that play along with the other musicians in the orchestra. In the West, conductors are separate from their orchestra. Again, this exists in parts of the East, particularly among those who have held fast to traditions prior to colonialism and their influence from the western world. Here in the West we also see this Eastern influence prevalent within post 1945 improvisation Jazz music and the freestyle/creative dance, fashion, graffiti, deejay and rap elements within Hip Hop culture.

Now, if you are an actual performing artist such as Lauryn Hill, doing business within this or any country, signing contracts and making money from those performances, publishing rights and intellectual property, you are legally obligated. You are obligated to meet deadlines and be punctual because it's part of your financial lifeline. You're working on yours and others time. You, and those who you are doing business with, are required to contractually keep their word as bond because this economy is not based upon an honor system. There is no way around that in regards to business. Just as I am sure Lauryn Hill has some financial expectations from those whom she does business with for her family, those who do business with her have expectations too -like the record contract she did in 2013 with Sony that helped cover her tax debt. The closest one in modern times to what Lauryn Hill is striving to articulate about one's ability to "accommodate the vitality, spontaneity, and spirit that make the performances" was ODB [Ol Dirty Bastard]. He pretty much did whatever he wanted; showed up when he wanted, came late, left early, didn't do photo shoots or interviews that were scheduled, broke out of rehab and showed up at concerts to perform, didn't finish songs, interrupted the Grammy's, took MTV to the county office in a limo to pick up his welfare check, wore one shoe on an Arsenio Hall show performance, used his benefit card for his album cover and a host of other things. L-Boogie is not ODB.
ODB at the county office on MTV

Lauryn Hill, regardless if you'd like to call her a creative, performing artist or musician, is working within the context of a western society based upon Capitalism and governed by the business rules & regulations she enters into via contractual agreements. As for Lauryn Hill, if she is being paid by people to do something then she needs to do it. If there's a legitimate reason why she's not able to fulfill that obligation, like Beyonce had to reschedule her Nashville concert due to stadium construction, then Lauryn Hill needs to professionally address that. It's not that sophisticated, complicated or philosophical. It's fickle, temperamental and perhaps arrogant or Narcissistic to expect people to unquestionably do things for us yet expect them to "be understandable" if/when we consistently don't do things to reciprocate that. In any arena of life with relationships, whether its business, platonic, romantic or etc., it's important to have a sense of equality. It's unfair to expect otherwise. If Lauryn Hill chooses to continue performing and make music to financially support her family she has two options which should also include more speaking engagements to educate her audience. I emphasize the educational component because many Westerners, and even Easterners influenced by the West, have no clue what she often talks about in regards to cultural creative freedom. Many of us creative artists do. So her two options are: 1.) Figure out an effective way to equally honor her creativity and her contractual agreements. 2.) Disconnect from the entertainment industry and strive to make a living by further exploring some of the Eastern approaches towards artistic expression that I spoke of. Willfully she gets it together because the world needs more of what she has offered.

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