Hiphop circa 2002 stands at a critical juncture. From Cee-Lo to Q-Tip to Saul Williams to Mos Def's rock band, Black Jack Johnson, artists are stretching the boundaries of the form, picking up instruments and abandoning the so-called hiphop nation for greener pastures. This might just be the point where the whitefolks take over rap like rock 'n' roll, while blackfolks create some brand-new shit (yet again); check back with me in 10 years. In any event, the old L-Boogie done gone. The woman who stands in her wake—the mother of three attempting to fill Marley's shoes with her own tales of heartache, redemption, and triumph—is adding layers to her artistry in full view of the public, whether critics think she can actually play that guitar (so far) or not.

Last Sunday night at Carnegie Hall, Lauryn spoke of screwfaces whose egos get upset by the truth, and her uncertainty over whether she'd be performing for a happy crowd or a lynch mob, while previewing even newer songs to the souled-out crowd: "Let Me Loose," "Damnable Heresies," and the title track to her next studio album, the as-of-today-entitled Social Drugs. Her efforts received a standing ovation, preceding an encore that included Marley's "Concrete Jungle." Her voice was stronger than the Unpluggedperformance, her confidence building. Lauryn seemed to take solace in the self-evident audience for her new direction. Stay tuned.

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