It’s crazy to think about, but this coming August will mark 15 years since the incredible album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was released. Since then, the former Fugee has not released another studio album, instead busying herself by having kids (six in total, five with Bob Marley’s son Rohan), practicing her faith with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, pissing off the Vatican, and not paying her taxes. While she’s done a little bit of performing over the years — touring with Nas, an appearance at Coachella in 2011 — and a couple of new songs have been leaked, the clamor for a new Lauryn Hill album has seemingly fallen on deaf ears. Until now!
Hill recently announced that she had teamed up with Sony to release new material and this weekend, fans got a first taste when she released a new track, “Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix),” on her Tumblr blog. The note along with the song — also available for purchase on iTunes – suggests Hill wasn’t quite ready to release the song, saying she was “required” to release it “immediately, by virtue of the impending legal deadline.” She’s referring to the fact that she has until the end of this week to pay restitution, after pleading guilty to tax evasion.
She also gives the song further timely context, writing, ”In light of Wednesday’s tragic loss [of former label mate Chris Kelly, from the '90s act Kriss Kross], 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!”
Personally, I really like the song, while it does have a slightly “unfinished” vibe. The harp-like sounds remind of the instrumentalism in Alice Coltrane’s “Journey in Satchidananda,” only more sped up. And, despite her issues over the last decade-plus, it’s clear that Lauryn Hill remains one of the very best lyricists in hip-hop. While I suspect The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was a once in a lifetime emblem of brilliance, here’s hoping her much, much, much-anticipated followup manages to shock and awe. [Rolling Stone]