When most people think of Lauryn Hill they instantly recall the years spent supporting her chart-topping Miseducation album. This was an era in Hill’s career where her hip-hop influence took a bit of a back seat to her more soulful side, and to this day that record plays as well as the day it was released. “Consumerism,” however, could not have strayed further from that gentle, radio-ready sound. It’s a boisterous, high-speed rant on everything from greed to religion and politics that demands your full attention. You can stream the single on HipHopDX.
Fugees member Lauryn Hill returned to our headlines yesterday with the release of a brand new, albeit rushed track. Today she returns to our front page, but sadly the news is not as good for Ms. Hill.
Hill appeared in court yesterday to face charges stemming from a $900,000 tax debt she owed to the US Government. As a result of her offenses, Hill was sentenced to serve three months prison time starting in July.
Hill plead guilty to the charges last year, but had taken care of the outstanding debt prior to appearing in court. Nathan Hochman, Hill’s attorney, told Reuters that his client actually paid off her debt through a loan leveraged against two pieces of real estate. He said, “Ms Hill has not only now fully paid prior to sentencing her taxes, which are part of her criminal restitution, but she has additionally fully paid her federal and state personal taxes for the entire period under examination through 2009.”
Hochman asked for mercy because of Hill’s charity work and 6 kids, but the judge said no.
Hill was present during the hearing, and delivered a statement to the judge in which she compared her situation to slavery, stating “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.”
Fugees member Lauryn Hill has been relatively quiet on the new music front in recent years. Hill has never truly left the studio, but her output to the public has been slim to non-existent for the better part of the last decade. We still love her though, and last night a new track from Ms. Hill found its way online.
Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix) is a rushed final product that was admittedly released to please pre-existing agreements, but it’s not far from being a great entry into Hill’s catalog. The song has a spastic beat that knocks you off your feet from the start. Hill rides its intriguing structure with staccato precision and passionate lyricism. Further vocal mixes would have made a better final product, but for what it is there is not much one can complain about. You can stream the song below.
In a note to fans, Lauryn Hill described the song’s release, writing:
Here is a link to a piece that I was ˜required’ to release immediately, by virtue of the impending legal deadline. I love being able to reach people directly, but in an ideal scenario, I would not have to rush the release of new music¦ but the message is still there. In light of Wednesday’s tragic loss (of former label mate Chris Kelly), I am even more pressed to YELL this to a multitude that may not understand the cost of allowing today’s unhealthy paradigms to remain unchecked!
Pony Boy, the brainchild of Marchelle Bradanini, is a self-described “junkyard country” group that sounds like a dusty old Ford rumbling down a deserted road. Having already put in time as a member of the eclectic Bedtime for Toys, Bradanini channeled her rediscovered love of classic country, blues, and Americana into her latest project. We caught up with her to chat about her poetic past, her distaste for manicured pop, and what really separates her from R. Kelly.
OS: You’ve been involved in some eclectic musical projects in the past such as Bedtime for Toys or you DJing project Pony vs. Tiger. What got you interested in the aesthetic of your current band?
MB: I started out just as a girl with a guitar influenced by Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. Then, I ended up starting a band with some friends and that was about playing music that a group of people came up with collectively at a different point in my life. When that band broke up, I was trying to figure out what I was doing next. Oftentimes you get asked to DJ after playing a show, and I had a pretty decent vinyl collection. While I was working out exactly what the solo project would be, I started getting asked to DJ all over the place. The nice thing was that those gigs were for people who wanted rock ‘n’ roll or classic country, and it was a great opportunity to go back and rediscover all of these old, great artists that I love: John Prine, The Allman Brothers, and even Ram Jam [laughs]. There’s the electronic DJ scene, but then there are also people who want to hear actual songs that were initially released on vinyl. Getting into that scene was really great because I got to work on playlists all day. (more…)
If you’re a music lover of a certain age, too young to remember when contemporary R&B wasn’t joined at the hips with rap, or didn’t come dressed up in a shimmering electro-pop sheen, we’ll forgive you for asking.
Now let the history lesson begin! Flashback to 1995, back when 21-year-old D’Angelo (born Michael Eugene Archer) was quickly becoming one of the hottest things in music. Released that year, his debut album, Brown Sugar, helped usher in the era of neo soul, and with Voodoo, his long-delayed 2000 sophomore album, for whose “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” video he bared both body and soul (literally!), he became an R&B rarity: a sex symbol capable of seducing both fans and critics with his bulging talent.
The only way was up, it seemed. But instead of ascending, D’Angelo dropped out. In some ways, it wasn’t so surprising. When I met D’Angelo in the mid-˜90s before a taping of MTV Unplugged, I was immediately disarmed by his cheerful but low-key and unassuming manner. He easily could have passed as any guy in the audience who’d wandered into the performer’s circle by mistake”and I mean that as a compliment. Modesty in a hunky package, D’Angelo, unlike the egocentric superstars crowding the charts today, clearly wasn’t in it for the star trip. Whether sitting at the piano or plucking a guitar, he was playing for love of the game, not the “F.A.M.E.” and “Fortune” (to quote the crass titles of the two most recent albums by Chris Brown, D’Angelo’s modern-day antithesis).
After taking five years to release his sophomore effort, D’Angelo spent the next decade well outside of the spotlight, only making occasional scattered appearances on leaked songs and other people’s records (including Mark Ronson’s Record Collection). And like so many musical geniuses before and after, he was plagued by demons, which may or may not have shaken up his turbulent romance with fellow singer Angie Stone, the mother of his teenage son Michael, and which definitely led to several legal scrapes, including a 2005 arrest for drunk driving and drug possession, and another in 2010 for soliciting a female undercover police officer for sex in New York City. (more…)