The Skillful Ms. Hill

Call me biased if you want to, but I am a straight up, die-hard fan of Ms. Lauryn Hill. Ms. Hill exudes the brilliance and wit of a modern day griot, while brandishing a ridiculous skill set of wordplay, artistry, and showmanship to back it up. As a young adult,  I remember loving Hip Hop undeniably, but sometimes feeling like that love wasn’t always fully reciprocated. In recognizing the verbally abusive nature of my relationship with Hip Hop at times, I really embraced the breath of fresh air that Ms. Hill brought to the table. Between the misogyny laced lyrics of the “It Ain’t No Fun” era to the capitalizing on sexuality for profit, sometimes it was really difficult to find pieces of the culture that resonated with me in healthy ways. During the late 90s and early 2000s, a new era of hip-hop emerged. We started to see more hyper-sexualized images of the Female MC. Lil Kim and Foxy Brown had the scene poppin’ with unquestionable skills on the mic to accompany their definitively sexy public personas. Then Ms. Lauryn Hill enters the scene as a solo artist (she had released music with the Fugees and other artists prior to her solo emergence) with the submission of her award-winning and critically acclaimed debut album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”. Ms. Hill represented the quintessential around the way girl, who made huge feats resemble light work because she approached her artistry and craft with all the right elements. Her seamless combination of Hip-hop, R &B, Soul, and Reggae is always a lesson in mastery because she excels and shines in all of those genres effortlessly.

As we journey through the month of April, we continue to honor and shine the spotlight on some amazing poets. In today’s post, we honor the contributions of Ms. Lauryn Hill.

In her combination of Manifest & Ex-Factor, she goes through the painstaking, self-reflective process of loving with reckless abandon while losing sight of self.

You see I loved hard once but the love wasn’t returned
I found out the man I’d die for he wasn’t even concerned
In time it turns he tried to burn like a perm
But my eyes saw the deception but ma’ heart couldn’t let me learn
From, um some dumb woman was I
Every time he lied he would cry and inside I’d die
My heart must have died a thousand deaths
Compare myself to Tony Braxton thought I’d never catch my breath
Nothing left he stole the heart beating from my chest
I tried to call the cops that type of thief they can’t arrest
Pain suppressed will lead to cardiac arrest
Diamonds deserve diamonds but he convinced me I was not worthless
When my people protest I told em mind they business cus’ ma s**t was complex
More than just the sex I was blessed but couldn’t feel it like when I was caressed
I spent nights clutching my breast overwhelmed by God’s test
I was God blessed contemplating death by a Gillette
But no man is ever worth the paradise manifest, no man is ever worth the paradise manifest, And no man has ever worth the paradise

Where were you when I needed you, when I needed you, when I needed you
Where were you when I needed you, when I needed you, when I needed you

This combination piece features that all too familiar self-inventory motivated by perpetual heartbreak. Ms. Hill asks some really hard questions and connects us to the harsh reality of loving while feeling unprotected.

On “I Gotta Find Peace of Mind” from her Unplugged album she asserts that true love is void of possession and grooms one with compassionate correction. Her voice ignites the promise of optimism and the hope of possibility and she repeats “He says it’s impossible…but I know its possible”.

“I Gotta Find Peace Of Mind”
I gotta find peace of mind, I gotta find peace of mind
He says it’s impossible, but I know it’s possible
He says it’s impossible, but I know it’s possible
He says there’s no me without him, please help me forget about him
He takes all my energy, trapped in my memory
Constantly holding me, constantly holding me
I need to tell you all, all the pain he’s caused, mmmm
I need to tell I’m, I’m undone because, mmmm
He says it’s impossible, but I know it’s possible
He says it’s impossible without him, but I know it’s possible
To finally be in love, and know the real meaning of
A lasting relationship, not based on ownership
I trust every part of you, cuz all that I… All that you say you do
You love me despite myself, sometimes I fight myself
I just can’t believe that you, would have anything to do
With someone so insecure, someone so immature
Oh you inspire me, to be the higher me
You made my desire pure, you made my desire pure
Just tell me what to say, I can’t find the words to say
Please don’t be mad with me, I have no identity
All that I’ve known is gone, all I was building on
I don’t wanna walk with you, how do I talk to you

The bottom-line is: If you think you can deny the mastery of Ms. Lauryn Hill and her poetic contribution to our musical lexicon…YOU JUST LOST ONE!

Posted in #nationbuilders, Arts in Education, Black Arts Movement, Music as text, PRIDE, We Honor You.

3 Comments

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