Listen to What Lauryn Hill Says on Why She Sometimes Come Late For Shows
Talib Kweli, in the fall of 2014, wrote an open letter titled In Defence Of Ms. Hill, and in the letter he put forth his feelings on the negative press surrounding Lauryn Hill. It is a well known phenomenon that Ms. Hill has earned her fair share of contempt from fans for showing up late to her shows or otherwise performing in ways felt to be below expectation. This happens again in 2014 as Ms. Hill began to perform infrequently after a break – both of personal choice and related to legal matters – from extensive touring. It is obvious that fans fanatically helped sell out shows to see the former Fugee in person, but as Kweli observed, some fans just as ardently criticized Ms. Hill’s repeated lateness. “When you pay for a Lauryn Hill concert you are not paying for her to do what you want, you are paying for her to do what she wants,” he argued. In his ever direct way of addressing issues on his mind, he continued with “[s]he is not an iPod nor is she a trained monkey. She doesn’t have to do her hits and she doesn’t have to do the songs the way you want to hear them. She doesn’t owe you that.”
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On this day (May 9) – a year and a half later – Ms. Hill’s reputation has again become the center of much argument in Hip-Hop. Following a report of her showing up in show in Atlanta, Georgia two hours late, the MC and singer performed for only 40 minutes before leaving the stage, consequently annoying the fans who spent the money and time to support her career. The backlash was so strong that Ms. Hill took to her Facebook page to issue a statement, where she explain her perspective, expresses regret, and perhaps more importantly opens up the space for a discussion about where an artist’s creative license begins and where a fan’s right to a product ends.
She began by stating decisively that she has “nothing but love and respect” for her fans, Ms. Hill explains further that there exists “a challenge in aligning my energy with the time” to explain why she is often late to some of her shows. In some allegorical terms, she says that what she is providing her fans “isn’t easily classified or contained,” and as such it becomes difficult at times to “make it available for others.” This fall in line with what Kweli wrote back in 2014 – an artist is creating something intangible, therefore, fans should understand they should not behave as consumers and stipulate that artists perform and behave as they wish.
As Kweli pointed out in his piece, artists may “have very different philosophies when it comes to stage performing,” thus, if fans are going to pay to see an artist, they should have some level of anticipation of what they are getting in return for their money. In many ways, by giving full clearness into her process and challenges in planning to perform, Ms. Hill has given fans awareness as to what to expect from her shows.
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