Lauryn Hill Addresses 'Stolen' Music Accusations
Lauryn Hill is confronting “common misconceptions” about her in a 3,000-word essay, in which she addresses claims that she mistreated her band and “stole” music for her classic album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Hill penned the lengthy statement on Medium two weeks after jazz musician Robert Glasper said Hill had “stolen all of [his] friends’ music” during the making of her 1998 album and claimed she threatened her band while on tour in 2008. The musicians who worked on Miseducation sued Hill over writing credits. The lawsuit was settled in 2001.
“I apologize for the delay in getting this posted, I was late in hearing about it,” wrote Ms. Hill. “I understand this is long, but my last interview was over a decade ago.”
I chose to wait until after the anniversary to post this. Thank you everyone for the Love! I’d like to clear a few things up.
Full statement available here: https://t.co/kbtvoOWD2R
— Ms. Lauryn Hill (@MsLaurynHill) August 28, 2018
The former Fugees frontwoman defended herself against Glasper’s accusations. “These are my songs, musicians are brought in because of the masterful way that they play their instruments,” she said. “You may be able to make suggestions, but you can’t write FOR me. I am the architect of my creative expression. No decisions are made without me.
“The Miseducation was my only solo studio album, but it certainly wasn’t the only good thing I did. … No matter how incredible the musicians who play with me are, MY name is on the marquee. The expectation to make it all come together is on me. The risk and the financial losses are on me,” she continued.
Glasper, who was briefly a member of Hill’s band in 2008, accused Hill of stealing music. “She took the credit for making the classic album. Those songs were written by other people and they did not get their credit,” he told “The Madd Hatta Morning Show” on Houston’s 97.9 The Box. “You’ve already stolen all of my friends’ music. Miseducation was made by great musicians and producers that I know personally. You got a big hand off of music you didn’t even write.”
Glasper also said Hill threatened to cut her touring band members’ pay in half. “Every day she comes in and changes the show, changes what she wants to do,” he added. “The last rehearsal, she doesn’t show up. Her manager comes in and says, ‘Lauryn’s not really feeling the way you guys have been learning the music, so we’re gonna cut your pay in half.'”
In response to the pay cut accusation, Hill said, “Don’t have the details or recollection of cutting the band’s pay in half. If fees had been negotiated and confirmed without my knowledge, I may have asked for them to be adjusted. But I would never just cut a musician’s pay arbitrarily unless I had a legitimate reason. There are artists who do cut pay though, James Brown was notorious for docking musicians if they did something he didn’t like, I’m sure there are others.”
Additionally, Hill addressed her notorious tardiness to shows. “Me being late to shows isn’t because I don’t respect my fans or their time, but the contrary, It can be argued that I care too much, and insist on things being right,” she explained. “I like to switch my show up regularly, change arrangements, add new songs, etc. This often leads to long sound checks, which leads to doors opening late, which leads to the show getting a late start. This element of perfectionism is about wanting the audience to experience the very best and most authentic musical experience they can from what I do.”
During her live shows, she often remixes her classic records, but according to Hill, there’s a reason for that. “I remix my songs live because I haven’t released an album in several years,” she said. “There’s a ton of backstory as to why, but there’s no way I could continue to play the same songs over and over as long as I’ve been performing them without some variation and exploration. I’m not a robot. If I’d had additional music out, perhaps I would have kept them as they were. I didn’t, so I revise and rearrange them according to what I’m feeling in that moment.”
In honor of the 20th anniversary of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Hill announced a tour, which runs through the end of 2018. The landmark album made history as the first hip-hop album to win Album of the Year at the 1999 Grammy Awards.
“The album inspired many people, from all walks of life, because of its radical(intense) will to live and to express Love. I appreciate everyone who was a part of it, in any and every capacity,” she wrote. “It wouldn’t have existed the way that it did without the involvement, skill, hard work, and talents of the artists/musicians and technicians who were a part of it, but it still required my vision, my passion, my faith, my will, my soul, my heart, and my story.”