We praise our favorite artist for their gifts, and tear them down for being human!!
This blog was inspired by a conversation that I had with a few friends, all of us being music enthusiast, as well as all being fans of the Great Lauryn Hill... Purposely adding the affirmation to her title while knowing full well that everyone doesn't share my since of love, loyalty, and respect for her as an artist. In fact, during our conversation it was brought up that she had only the one solo album, and shouldn't be considered as one of the greats. My question is, do we judge greatness, specifically in music by the volume that the artist creates, or by the content!
For me to properly lay out my case, I'd ask that you remember how much good music we had in 1998. Besides DMX tearing it up consistently with Ruff Ryders, Jay Z was Hard Knock Lifing it, Outkast was doing there thing, Puffy was rocking hard with the Lox and their single "Money Cash Hoes" featuring LiL Kim and DMX, Juvenile forged hard as an scout for Cash Money, we had Terror Squad featuring Big Pun, Busta Rhymes was making noise with Extinction Level Event, Black Star, Princess Aaliyah, Destiny's Child, and Redman all topping Billboard in the same year. In the midst of Hip Hop's elite, Lauryn Hill stood as tall as a first time solo artist could've expected to stand.
If I could take a song that best represented the lifestyle that Hip Hop was personifying at the time, it would be Money, Cash, Hoes, hands down! The Misunderstanding of Lauryn Hill not only changed the narrative for women, it made young men take a real look at who we were becoming, especially in "The Culture." Songs like "That Thing", which referred to both women and men only being after the opposite sex for the purpose of having sex, or getting that thing up out the other, spoke to both male and female as to what to look out for. "Everything is Everything," gave youth a perspective to be patient, not to rush, what is meant to be will be, no matter if you're chasing a dream or a relationship, be careful to avoid the pitfalls of being too anxious. The overall theme of the album is Love, love given, love that you receive from a significant other, even the way you love yourself! I would say that would be the most important message, but sista Hill took it further with one of my favorite songs on the album, titled "Tell Him!"
Sometimes we find it difficult to completely give ourselves to someone else, although many of us who's been blessed to have (seeds) or children, have a better aspect of being unselfish. No-one had expressed the love and vulnerability, not to mention the sacrifice that it takes to be a good parent, the way it was done in "Tell Him." "Tell Him I Need Him, Tell Him I Love Him," these were the lyrics pleaded throughout the song, even praying to the Lord of who she would become for her firstborn son Zion. No-one seemed to understand when Lauryn Hill decided to let music take a backseat to raising a family, as tho they thought the songs so perfectly crafted on the album were only done for entertainment purposes.
Throughout the album she blueprinted what was important to her, but I guess we see and hear what we choose. Being a sincere fan, as I'm sure you can tell, I would've loved nothing more than to get two to three more albums from L Boogie. Even the most recent offering "Guarding the Gates," a single created for movie soundtrack "Queen and Slim," is enough to give hope that she's ready to return for a full album. The argument that an artist shouldn't be considered in such high regards because they don't have a thousand song catalog is understandable, but not valid in my opinion! Rarely is an artist like Notorious BIG thought of as anything less than one of the greatest M.C.'s ever, and he only had "Ready to Die," as an album that he's earned that reputation for. I'm aware of his second album, but when it was released BIG had already passed, and although it was a good double album, he will always be remembered for "I love it when they call me Big Poppa," a song off of his debut album, "Ready to Die."