So despite months of confusion and trepidation, Lauryn Hill really did play a full set at Governors Island Saturday as part of the Rock the Bells festival’s vintage hip-hop blowout — and our own Christopher R. Weingarten, for one, loved it, hailing it as a triumph of “majestic retro-future space-metal.” Which is apparently as polarizing as it sounds — it’s hard not to conclude that everyone else hated it. Tonight, she gets a chance to retort.
The Mis-Edification of Lauryn Hill, went the title of a typical reaction: “One girl next to me looked to be almost in tears, and most of the people I spoke to expressed disappointment.” Chief among the complaints is her habit of radically revising and rearranging all her old hits so they more closely resemble, well, space-metal: “We wish we could complain about Hill skipping her biggest solo hit in ‘Doo Wop (That Thing),'” wrote Vulture, “but we’re not actually sure that she did not, in fact, play ‘Doo Wop (That Thing).'”
This has been Hill’s thing for nearly a decade, though — her free 2007 show at Wingate Field was famously bruising and polarizing, raspy voice and basically unidentifiable arrangements and all. If you come expecting oldies (which, admittedly, Rock the Bells patrons are very specifically told to do), it can all be terrifically frustrating, but nobody wants to just parrot their old records, right?
To this end, tonight at 11 Hill will be interviewed on the Fuse network by Touré, one of the best interviewers in hip-hop journalism and, we suspect, someone sympathetic to whatever it is Hill’s trying to do these days. (The two have a history.) Required viewing for anyone dismissing her ongoing comeback as a total failure, if a comeback is even what she has in mind at all.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 1, 2010