clap clap blog: we have moved

Thursday, October 09, 2003
What the hell happened to Lauren Hill? Well, this Rolling Stone story gives a pretty damn good answer to that question. Here, for instance, is just one of the issues she's dealing with:

At the same time, Hill's love life began to get really complicated. For years she'd been clandestinely dating Jean. Their relationship started long before he married his current wife and continued afterward. But Pras says, "I think he was kinda, like, playing with her emotions."

But in the summer of '96, when the Fugees were on the Smoking Grooves Tour, she met Rohan Marley, who was on the tour with his brother Ziggy, both sons of Bob Marley. At first Hill was uninterested in Rohan -- a former University of Miami football player -- because she was still seeing Jean. "Honestly, she didn't even want the relationship," says a friend. "Everyone was pushing her towards [Marley] to get her out of the other thing. They pushed her towards him, like, 'Why don't you give him a chance, come on, go out on a date. Just do it,' not knowing that this man had all this other baggage and drama in his life."


For years, Hill claimed that she was married to Rohan Marley, but at some point after Zion was born, Hill got another surprise: Someone told her Marley already had a wife. On March 18th, 1993, when he was a sophomore at the University of Miami, Marley married an eighteen-year-old woman from New Jersey in a ceremony in Miami. "The reason [Hill and Marley] aren't married is because Ro is already married," says a friend. Sources say Marley has two children from the marriage.

Hill decided to ignore it. "I think she was kinda like, 'Put it in the closet and don't even pay attention to it,' " says a friend. Rolling Stone could find no record of the dissolution of Marley's marriage, and even now it's unclear whether Hill and Marley were ever married in a conventional sense. "She has her own rules about life," another friend says. "According to her, she's married. Marriage to her is not a piece of paper, and it's not part of some civilization -- civil-lies-ation. If you say to her, 'You're not married,' she'll say, 'What, do I have to get a government official to tell me I'm married?' "

Uh, yeah. And the Jean issues played out in other ways, too:

It was critical that on "Miseducation," Hill was credited as the sole auteur. "That was why she had to be seen as doing it all herself," says someone familiar with the sessions. "To show, 'I'm better than [Wyclef]. He's getting credit as the genius in the group. I'm the genius in the group.' "

But when musicians collaborate in the studio, it's often difficult to establish exactly who has written what. "It gets real gray in the studio," one artist says. At the time, people close to her suggested Hill needed documentation that would define everyone's role, but she was against the idea. "Lauryn said, 'We all love each other,' " a friend says. " 'This ain't about documents. This is blessed.' "

The album was released crediting Hill with having produced, written and arranged all the music except one track, and Hill was established as a self-contained musical genius. Then she was sued by four men who had worked on the record who alleged that she had claimed full credit for music that they'd been at least partly responsible for. Her label, Columbia, urged her to settle, but she wanted to fight. "She felt settling would've been an admission of guilt," says a friend. "She was very concerned about credit. It's what eluded her from the past success [with the Fugees]. She didn't wanna be just a pretty face and a pretty voice. She wanted people to know she knows what she's doing." But she had to go into depositions and discuss making her art with lawyers. "That fucked with her," another friend says.

Of course it did! But...argh. And then connect it with this:

A friend says Brother Anthony taught Hill that "she should be whoever she wants to be, because she doesn't owe her fans anything. God didn't create us to be beholden unto people and entertain them. God holds us to be the people that we want to be."

(Can someone send Lauren a copy of Candide, please?)

It is sad, in part because it's so typical, so expected an arc after the hardcore weirdness of dating your married bandmate and the married son of Bob Marley. But it's also sad because it's such a clear case of being unsatisfied with what's clearly a substantial amount of talent. What actual need was there for her to pretend like she made the whole album all by her lonesome? What point is there to not giving the musicians co-credit? (And who the hell doesn't know by now that you always watch out for that, because it'll come back to bite you on the ass?) It doesn't make the music any better. It's just a person who was blessed with beauty and a great voice and (according to many) great songwriting talent who somehow thinks this isn't enough, that she needs to be able to do everything. And it's sad that our critical standards are such that we value this kind of thing to the detriment of the actual music. Cause Brother Anthony is wrong--we're not just supposd to "be the people that we want to be." The person I want to be spends a lot of time sitting on the couch watching TV and eating pizza. But that's not what I'm working toward (except in some very vague long-term sense), partially because it would drive me a bit crazy, but partially, too, because I recognize that I, like everyone else, has certain talents and interests that can be of use to other people. So why not do that? The music, Lauren, the song: that's what matters. Fuck all your bullshit. And man, get yourself some help that doesn't involve people who've made up their own religion.

(discussion here.)