A Tale of Two Lauryns: Why We Feel Entitled to Lauryn Hill.

Note: I wrote this post last week, before she announced her pregnancy. #allcity.

One of the reason’s why I think we are incapable of letting Lauryn go, or understanding why she has chosen her family work over her artistic work is that we do not see parenting as work.

I have friends whose parents provided for their material means, they had food clothes and shelter, gadgets and toys, but moms and pops were always at work.

And they hate their parents for always being away.

I am not doing that, and I can see Lauryn Hill’s desire to give her children some sense of stability and protection.

People always say to me, girl, when you gonna have a baby- blahzey, blah? I look them dead in they face and say, listen, a child requires you to reorganize your entire life, and I believe that that child should be your priority, because as parents we bring them into the world. I also believe that women are hyper criticized for parenting choices, AND also given little support to be parents. So until those conditions change, I am cool. This is not to say that I don’t struggle with it. Because I do. AND, I am still cool.

How we think about Lauryn and what we feel that we expect from her is interesting.

I began thinking about this as I watched two videos of her. Once when she was twenty-five, the other from last year when she first started really touring again.

@:34 she says “I wanted them to have normalcy and privacy…I wanted a real life as well.”

@1:24 They are really not my accomplishments to be proud of.

@2:58 On missing her high school graduation.

@5:54 The music industry is a microcosm of the world.

@10:49 Lauryn Hill makes me look up the word ethereal.

I noticed in watching these two videos that she says twice “I didn’t have any new experiences to write about.”

A lot of my blog posts are based on a mixture of experiences and things that I have read, so I can see her point.

I read a biography of Billie Holiday last fall, “If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery” and the author Farah Griffin explores why we know what we know about Billie Holiday. She also forces us to think why Black men Jazz artists can suffer from drug addictions  and still be seen as a genius, but Billie Holiday’s addictions seem to always overshadow her genius, her knowledge production.

I am thinking about how we know what we know about Lauryn Hill.

How the demands for her to come back don’t take into consideration that parenting is work. That making music is work.

And that it was particularly challenging for her to be a petite Black girl with natural hair in a music industry premised on approximating blond, white beauty ideals.

The ability to accept Lauryn for who she is may be a barometer of freedom for Black women in this country.

Why the investment in Lauryn Hill?

If we acknowledged that parenting and being an artist was work, would we view Lauryn differently?

Can Black women breathe?

Me & Lauryn Hill: An Evolution

The first time I heard Lauryn Hill, was probably a single from
the Blunted on Reality album and I hated it. At that time
it appeared to be crazy gimmicky.
I didn’t like The Fugees and I didn’t like The Score. The Score took an L
because in many ways, it was accessible, cross over Boom Bap.
Many folks who knew how much I liked rap, and hip hop heads in general
felt that it should get a pass. I was like, eehhhhnnn no. I can also admit
now that I was lightweight hating. She was fly, fresh and a B-girl. It was
perhaps a knee jerk, “There can only be one of us” reaction.
In addition, as a teenager I was heavily influenced by Islam and subsequently,
I felt that Lauryn should?wear more clothes. I know, hard to believe,?
Ms. M.dot actually had something?to say about the clothing of that a?
woman wears. But it was true.
The fact that I used to believe that back in the day goes to the notion
that we don’t become who we are over night.
While I was certainly familiar with feminist politics then, I didn’t have
a historical understanding that would allow me to question WHY it?
was any of my business how scantily clad L was in the first place.
Remember when Dave said on Stakes is High, ” The underground is about
not being exposed, so you better take ya naked ass and put on some clothes”?
Well, In my mind that was directed towards over exposed rappers in general
but could be applied to Lauryn as well. In fact, when De La came to ‘Frisco to?
perform, I asked Dave whether he meant that line for L and he looked at me
and was like, “nah, uhhhh, nah”.
When she came out with Miseducation, I warmed up. From beginning
to end, the album was what she was going through in her life.
Not entirely self destructive, a little heavy handed, and perhaps most?
importantly, really human.?
As I have gotten older my thinking about clothes, presentation
and human beings has changed over time. I now realize that?
not only do I not want?anyone talking about how short or tight my?
skirt is, I have also?come to realize that it is none of my business?
what L wears as well.
I also realize that, and Erykahs recent pregnancy certainly underscores this,
that as Black women, ?many folks feel that they have say so in what
we choose to do with our bodies. I find this intriguing given
the unbelievable pass given to Black men such as Puffy, R.Kelly, Akon given
their relationship and or sexual practices.
Which brings me back to Lauryn.?I miss her. As I think about these?
Hip Hop and feminism study groups?I wonder what her music
would?sound like today.?I wonder what the beats ?would sound
like, who she would be collaborating?with and how much?being
a mom would play into her music.
Recently there were complaints about the fact the neither VH1’s?
Hip Hop Honors and BET’s Hip Hop awards nominated a single
woman.?An anonymous source?said that the reason why
there were fewer women emcees being launched on major labels
their hair and make up costs are expensive.?You and I both know
that this is a lie, as record companies will?invest millions into an?
artist if they believe that the return on investment.?So I am suppose?
to believe hair weaves and mac eye shadow run into?the tens of thousands
for female emcees? Besides grooming costs are irrelevant as?artists are
responsible for paying back?the labels for money?that they spend on an artist.
The fact that there are no women were nominated for BET Awards or for a
Hip Hop Honors award?underscores the significance of seeing Lauryn’s
image?in pop culture. There she was, petite, chocolate brown and
a mane of natural hair. Then and now, we are not allowed to be?
represented like that in pop culture.
That being said, Lauryn if you are out there, we are waiting for you.
To the young woman who sees her self as the next Lauryn Hill, we
are waiting?for you as well.