Talib Kweli and Lauryn Hill were peers in the late-’90s conscious-rap boom, but even before either one of them ever got on as a rapper, they were college
This essay was written in response to this article: It is Finally Time to Stop Caring About Lauryn Hill
Before, I critique Schumacher I will be completely open with my bias. I respect Lauryn Hill as an artist for her lyrics, her talent & her vision. I admire Hill’s live performances for not merely regurgitating the same version of a song, but allowing for the unique and genuine transformation of live music. Essentially, I think she is the bees knees and there isn’t a person out there who could convince me otherwise. I am also fully willing to understand when other people do not agree with me. However, this article, because of all the buzz, stuck to my brain and I could not get it out of my mind.
And so begins my own [informal] essay.
Schumacher writes an article delineating the reasons why he “no longer cares” about Lauryn Hill’s music. Ironic, considering he spent the time to write this article which begins with an entire section dedicated to what her music meant to him. That is, before he criticizes her in a personal and unacceptable fashion.
At one point Schumacher states, ” More importantly, her most dedicated fans (myself included) have wondered when she will produce another great piece of art?” Considering the title of his article, this man is truly a walking contradiction. Talib Kweli concisely responds to this mentality in his defense of Lauryn Hill, stating ” Lauryn’s greatness does not diminish because of lack of commercial output. A “dedicated” fan would never suggest something so disrespectful.”
I understand that Schumacher is entitled to his own opinion. However, his opinion and critique of Lauryn Hill’s music blurred lines and turned into a personal attack on Lauryn Hill. He is completely out of line questioning Hill’s relationship and family life as a reason for her career not living up to his standards. He writes “Some have blamed Lauryn’s relationship and family life…” as if the opinion is not one shared by himself and randomly stumbled into his article. Semantics aside, it is entirely inappropriate to base unsolicited criticism of a person’s professional life on their personal life.
First of all, it is more than unsettling that women are regularly placed under fire for their family lives effecting their career. It is a standard practically never held to men, a standard which needs to be torn down from its unfounded origins. It is absolutely none of his, or to be more specific, any fans business what the state of her personal relationships or family life is. The only thing of concern should be her art. HER ART. Which brings me to my second point. It blows my mind, that fans believe they have some kind of copyright ownership on an artist, just because the artist’s music resonated within them.. It is a beautiful thing to be touched by art, but it does not mean you own the artist and can dictate the means or direction of their art: present, past or future. This kind of treatment in another context would be considered harassment and abusive.
At the end of the article, he cites public statements and erratic behavior meant to undermine Lauryn Hill’s mental state and provide a reason for the lack of “great art” production on her end. I am again blown away by this man’s audacity. We are human fucking beings, and to publicly and disrespectfully question a person’s mental stability in a childish rant about how her music isn’t what he wants it to be is UNBELIEVABLE. I would hope he gains some semblance of humanity and retracts these statements and issues an equally as public article apologizing for his insensitivity. He claims, “I really don’t care about her public statements or even her indiscretions with the law (certainly other artists are guilty of far worse). I just want the music.” A statement, I find hard to believe after reading an article that utilized an entire section to dissect her public image, statements and personal life.
On a side note, something which annoys me personally and beyond: Schumacher whines about paying $88 for a ticket to see Lauryn Hill at the beginning of his article. It is a pet peeve of mine to hear of fans complaining about the price of a ticket. No one is holding a gun to your head to force you to see your “favorite” artist. If you pay the money, you could afford it/ thought it was worth it. If you don’t pay the money, you either couldn’t afford it/ thought it wasn’t worth it. At the end of the day it was YOUR decision, so quit your whining. I am also very stubborn about this rule and believe it applies to AFTER a show too. I don’t want to hear about how you wasted your money on a terrible show. You knew the risk.
And lastly.. this is why complaining about ticket prices truly bothers me. I realize that my phrasing will come off as a huge wide spread generality, however in my experience (which may be skewed), I find this to be pretty much true. People complain about paying $10-20 to go see a local band and literally stab the local music scene in the back with their frugality. People complain about paying $88 to see an artist of substance, because apparently it is only worth it to shell out money for “a band they really want to see.” What does that even mean Schumacher, I thought you were one of her most “dedicated fans”? People literally will complain about EVERY COST except paying hundreds of dollars to see the next pop sensation or the old pop sensation, which boils down to what is “hot right now.” A concept applicable to most aspects of our consumer driven lives.
So. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I am with Talib Kweli. Leave Lauryn Hill alone. She owes you nothing. It is something to be grateful for that she shared her art with the world.