Will Lauryn Hill's New Album Be Any Good?

Lauryn Hill attending court in Newark, N.J., on April 22, 2013. (Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
Lauryn Hill attending court in Newark, N.J., on April 22, 2013. (Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

The press attention about Lauryn Hill's tax troubles has revealed one bright spot: She's preparing new music. But Aisha Harris wonders on Slate if 15 years after her debut album, will Hill be able to recreate the magic?

Referring to the "old conflict between art and commerce," she wrote:

This is about inequity, and the resulting disenfranchisement caused by it. I've been fighting for existential and economic freedom, which means the freedom to create and live without someone threatening, controlling, and/or manipulating the art and the artist, by tying the purse strings.

The details of her battles with record labels are muddy, but Hill may have a point. While many artists' claims to artistic integrity can come off as sanctimonious or ring false, Hill has always seemed like the type of performer who truly does take her own work seriously and who always has cherished freedom from corporate interference. (See "Superstar," from Miseducation: "Now tell me your philosophy/ On exactly what an artist should be/ Should they be someone with prosperity/ And no concept of reality?") In her Tumblr post, Hill provides only a vague description of what exactly she's been working against all these years: "a completely complicated set of traps, manipulations, and inequitable business arrangements" that have led her to her unfortunate financial situation. But if her frustrations with her label are anything like, for example, those of Lupe Fiasco while making Lasers, then it may not be right to label her as crazy just because she hasn't been giving her fans the new music that they want.


Read Aisha Harris' entire piece at Slate.

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