Singer, rapper and musician, Lauryn Hill has experienced worldwide fame and success, but, unlike most of her contemporaries, has channeled her art into highlighting social issues and spreading a message of Truth and positivity. Now as she enters the third week of a three-month prison sentence for unpaid taxes, ‘Conspiro Media’ re-examines her life, and her efforts to be free from the “parasitic” music-industry in this lengthy retrospective…

Lauryn Hill - With or Without Strings Attached bannerHistory is strewn with the names of well-known and outspoken music-artists whose reputations have been destroyed or whose lives have met with an untimely end after they’d utilised their fame and popularity to promote peace, condemn injustice, highlight conspiracy, and/or unite and galvanise a generation. Former Beatle, John Lennon – the man who back in 1969 told us that “War is Over (If You Want It)” – was gunned down just weeks after he’d stepped back into public life following a five-year hiatus; Reggae legend and activist, Bob Marley, who succumbed to an alleged CIA-induced cancer in 1981, had previously survived an assassination attempt just days before his performance at the ‘Smile Jamaica’ concert of 1976 which was organised to bring an end to violent political clashes on the island; Rapper, Tupac was cut down in his prime in a hail of bullets in 1996, some believe in an FBI-sanctioned hit designed to take out a prominent, influential voice championing Black civil rights; In 2003, American female trio, The Dixie Chicks claimed they received death threats after speaking out in criticism of President George W. Bush and the upcoming invasion of Iraq, a move which led to a backlash against them by the media and general public, and a boycotting of their music. Now, in 2013, Lauryn Hill appears to be the latest name to add to this unfortunate list. Almost a year after issuing a statement in which she expressed her desire to live a life “without being manipulated and controlled by a media protected military industrial complex with a completely different agenda,” the reclusive singer/rapper was not only sentenced to three months imprisonment and three months home confinement for unpaid taxes, but reportedly told by a judge she must undergo counselling because of her ‘conspiracy theories.’

Having enjoyed phenomenal commercial and critical success – first as a member of the hugely popular Hip Hop trio, The Fugees during the 1990s and then later as a solo artist – Lauryn Hill is now almost as famous for her outspoken, often controversial views which have won particular praise amongst those within the Alternative ‘Truth-seeking’ community. In December 2003 for example, she criticised the Catholic Church at a Christmas concert at the Vatican where she’d been invited to perform. Addressing an audience of approximately 7,000 people, she reportedly said, “I am sorry if I am about to offend some of you. I did not accept my invitation to celebrate with you the birth of Christ. Instead I ask you why you are not in mourning for him in this place? I want to ask you, what have you got to say about the lives you have broken? What about the families who were expecting God and instead were cheated by the Devil? Who feels sorry for them, the men, women and children damaged psychologically, emotionally and mentally by the sexual perversions and abuse carried out by the people they believed in? Holy God is a witness to the corruption of your leadership, of the exploitation and abuses which are the minimum that can be said for the clergy. There is no acceptable excuse to defend the church.” The then-serving Pope, John Paul II didn’t attend the event that day, although a number of senior Church members were present including the head of the Italian Bishops Conference, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, who, it’s said, walked out in protest. Lauryn’s decision over a decade ago to withdraw from the inner hub of the music-industry machine has also earned her a significant degree of support and sympathy, especially amongst those of us who study the occult inner-workings of the entertainment world. She discussed her reasons behind this move in a 2010 interview for ‘USA Today.’ She said, “the support system that I needed was not necessarily in place. There were things about myself, personal-growth things, that I had to go through in order to feel like it was worth it. In fact, as musicians and artists, it’s important we have an environment – and I guess when I say environment, I really mean the (music) industry, that really nurtures these gifts. Oftentimes, the machine can overlook the need to take care of the people who produce the sounds that have a lot to do with the health and well-being of society, or at least some aspect of society. And it’s important that people be given the time that they need to go through, to grow, so that the consciousness level of the general public is properly affected. Oftentimes, I think people are forced to make decisions prematurely. And then that sound radiates.” The notoriously low profile that she’s managed to sustain since the late ‘90s/early 2000s, and initially sparked by her apparent refusal to play along with the music-industry fuelled publicity/mass-media game, was met with surprise and bewilderment, coming as it did not long after the release of her 1998 debut solo album, ’The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,’ which was a Grammy Award-winning critical and commercial triumph helping to elevate her already considerable star-status to even higher heights. Musically, it was a fusion of contemporary Urban genres of the time; A few Hip Hop beats here, a liberal dose of ‘90s Neo-Soul there, with an ever-so-subtle tinge of Reggae as well. The singer says she also wanted it to have “the warmth and integrity of all the old music I grew up listening to. Everything had to be live and I ordered every instrument I had ever heard on a record for the studio – guitars, drums, old keyboards, harps, harpsichords. I thought, I’m gonna make this a Hip Hop album that has the roots, integrity and the sound of an old record. And I want the street kids to be able to hear it, to appreciate the Hip Hop element and yet be exposed to the musicality of it. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.” This fusion of past and present was, according to Lauryn in a 2011 interview, “a bridge… between an older generation and a younger generation and how to put these two musical styles together – you know – to build a continuum so that there wasn’t so much of a disconnect between generations… I think that ’Miseducation’ was really what that was all about… I think it was about being a bridge, you know, between generations that could very well have drifted off in separate… directions.”

Lauryn at the 1999 Grammys where she picked up a total of five gongs.

Lauryn at the 1999 Grammys where she picked up a total of five gongs.

The album’s title is said to have been partially inspired by an autobiographical novel and movie about a prominent but controversial Black activist. Lauryn’s former manager, Jayson Jackson told ‘Rolling Stone‘ magazine, “for the album title, she wanted something like ‘The Education of Sonny Carson’ and we were like, why don’t you make it more self-deprecating, like ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill?’”

Carson was born in South Carolina in 1936 and grew up in Brooklyn, a New York borough that defined almost all his 66-year life. In the film, which dramatises his early years, we’re introduced to him as a 13-year old crawling on the floor of a locked-up convenience store in the dead of night, making his way with his young friends towards the cash-register only to be caught red-handed by the police as he makes his escape. Sentenced to three months incarceration as a result despite his young age, the remainder of the movie follows his journey after his subsequent release as he rises up the ranks of an inner-city gang known as ‘The Lords’ who frequently engage in violent clashes with rivals, ‘The Tomahawks.’ In a desperate attempt to find enough cash to pay for a floral tribute for a friend who’s been fatally stabbed in one such brawl, he steals money from a passer-by in the street but ends up getting caught and once again jailed in the process. When he’s freed, he returns to his old neighbourhood to discover that his former gang-mates are either in prison, dead, or on drugs, as is his girlfriend who’s become a junkie. The movie ends with Sonny reflecting on his past and seemingly making a conscious decision to start over and seek a better future, but no reference is made at all to his subsequent life. Co-written by Carson himself, the 1974 film is entirely focused on events and scenarios that occurred before he made his mark in the 1960s as an activist.sonny carson movie

He first came to widespread attention through his intimate involvement with the organisation, ’CORE’ (‘Congress of Racial Equality’) which, according to it’s official website, “seeks to establish, in practice, the inalienable right for all people to determine their own destiny – to decide for themselves what social and political organisations can operate in their best interest and to do so without gratuitous and inhibiting influence from those whose interest is diametrically opposed to theirs. CORE feels that the most important fundamental freedom for all people is the right to govern themselves. Once this simple ideal is realised, other necessary freedoms will automatically follow. In essence, CORE’s aim is to bring about equality for all people regardless of Race, creed, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion or ethnic background. In pursuing its aim, CORE seeks to identify and expose acts of discrimination in the public and private sectors of society. When such an act is uncovered, CORE, with its many multi-service departments, goes into action.” First launched in 1942 in Chicago, the six principle founders of CORE were a multi-ethnic mix of university students, pacifists, and civil rights campaigners/activists who embraced the idea of non-violent resistance as a tactic against the racial segregation of the time. One of the group, James L. Farmer, Jr., an African-American who eventually became the organisation’s first national director, was deeply influenced by the teachings of Ghandi who’d been engaging in peaceful civil disobedience against the occupying British empire that was still ruling over India during the period that CORE was formed and first began attracting attention – and which it did early on in its inception. In fact, it was staging non-confrontational direct-action protests such as sit-ins as far back as the 1940s, many years before the emergence of better known campaigners who adopted similar techniques such as Martin Luther King, Jr. (who was also an admirer of Ghandi). By the mid-1960s, these peaceful methods of resistance were being challenged by a growing number of disillusioned Black activists, many of whom were members of CORE, and when Farmer stepped down from his post as it’s national director in 1966, it was amidst this background of increasing ideological change. The pacifist ideals he’d championed were dismissed by Sonny Carson who became chairman of the organisation’s Brooklyn division during the 1960s. He‘s quoted as saying, “non-violence prevented me from joining many groups because I just didn’t believe in the concept. And at some of the (Brooklyn) Congress of Racial Equality’s sit-ins or programs that were challenged by the White folks, it became confrontational and some them fought back. That caused me to look longer at them… all those organisations that were talking about – when he hits you, don’t hit him back. I’m not one of those kinds of people because when he hits me I’m going to hit them back. So the only group that I’d seen that could stand the way I felt, more so than anybody else, was CORE. And I meant Brooklyn CORE… As I began to get more involved, the more I got involved, the more I began to see that there was room for new thought.”

Sonny Carson pictured during the 1970s.

Sonny Carson pictured during the 1970s.

Carson’s tough, aggressive and sometimes intimidating reputation for dealing with community projects in Brooklyn is well documented – whether unfounded or not. For example, back in the 1980s, a long-time friend and associate of his, Ali Lamont, was arrested on assault charges in connection with an incident at an elementary school in the Bedford-Stuyvestant section of the New York borough. Sonny’s trusted old comrade spoke about the controversial event during a 2009 video-interview saying he’d been sent there by the activist to investigate allegations made by a number of concerned parents that students were being locked out of classes by the principal whose behaviour was, claimed Lamont, “so arrogant” and had “upset” him to the point that “a fist fight broke out” between the two of them during his visit. A differing version of events was given by the under-fire head who told Press at the time that Ali had entered his office and punched and kicked him. He also said, “what’s been going on at this school has nothing to do with education,“ accusing Carson and his supporters of “trying to take the school over as a political base for themselves.” Sonny reportedly denied the principal‘s claims and also defended his old friend. He was quoted as saying, “the alleged assault was a dispute in a closed room with no witnesses.” In another example of the lengths that he was seemingly prepared to go, he purportedly said, “I remember this mother and her three, four kids, their housing was taken away from them and they were put out of their place, and I went up directly to the landlord and I said, you know what, if you don’t give those people back their place in 24 hours I will come and run you out of business personally, physically. You understand that. I looked him right in his eye. I will run you out of business personally. And while I’m running you, I will break your legs.” Never ever far from controversy, some time during the mid 1970s, Carson was jailed for up to seven years for his supposed role in an incident connected to a pair of shootings that left one man dead and another wounded. It’s claimed the two men had been targeted by the activist and a number of his associates for stealing African artefacts from a Brooklyn hotel. Sonny, who later testified in court that he’d ordered a “citizen’s arrest” of the alleged thieves, denied any involvement in the shootings. He was eventually acquitted of murder charges and attempted murder charges but found guilty of kidnapping. Another area of Carson’s life and work which attracted a significant degree of suspicion and criticism was his attitude towards racial integration. For example, during a decidedly tense moment in New York City history during the late 1960s, he literally took a stand against White teachers being allowed entry into one particular school. Back then, Blacks in certain sections of NYC, most notably in the heavily African-American populated Ocean Hill-Brownsville neighbourhood of Brooklyn, were so dissatisfied with the high drop-out rates and low scores of students that they began calling for greater community control of their children’s education. In response, city officials unveiled an experimental decentralisation program in 1967 that granted the district’s residents the opportunity to play an active role in the affairs of their schools under a new inter-racial community-elected governing board. As a consequence, Black students in Brownsville were introduced to a new curriculum that expanded the role of subjects that were either previously ignored or rarely highlighted, but perhaps relevant nevertheless. Karima Johnson was an eighth-grader at the time. She recalls, “what the Black teachers did do was to broaden us, our perspective of looking at things. We were no longer members of a small community called ‘Ocean Hill-Brownsville,’ we were broadened to WEB Dubois, his readings, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, H. Rap Brown, Mao Tse-tung, the Red Book. I mean, we became international. And it was a good thing because Black people are the Third World, the Third World is much larger than European history.” However, tensions began to rise in 1968 after the board decided to request the transfer of 13 White teachers from Brownsville’s Junior High School 271. There were concerns they didn’t have the children’s best interests at heart. They were also accused of sabotaging classes, undermining the decentralisation program, and inciting racial conflict amongst Black and Puerto Rican students. When they attempted to return to work in defiance of the decision, their entry into the school was blocked by community members who refused to allow them in. The teachers union, which had rejected the governing board’s moves to dismiss them, staged a series of strikes across New York City a few months later in protest at their exclusion. As a result, education for an estimated one million children was stopped for a total of 36 days. However, Junior High School 271 in Brownsville remained open for classes, and there, standing next to the picket-lines was Sonny Carson. A TV-reporter at the scene approached him and asked him if the Brownsville community members were preventing the union-teachers from entering because they were White. He replied, “I don’t know, you’d have to ask the governing board. If it was left up to me, they wouldn’t be let in simply because they’re White, right. I certainly would.“ He added, “I don’t think that any White person is interested in giving Black children an education. That’s my particular feeling… by whatever means necessary, they’re going to be kept out.” It was comments such as this which earned Carson the “racist” tag from his critics throughout his activist years and well beyond his death in 2002. Responding to the accusations, fellow Black Brooklyn campaigner, Elombe Brath opined, “it was perhaps from these encounters (Ocean Hill-Brownsville) that so much about Sonny was distorted by the media through selective quotes, the charges of him being anti-Semitic and anti-White. What we can say for certain is that he was an institution; a Black Nationalist who truly loved his people.” The pastor and activist, Reverend Herbert Daughtry knew Carson for 42 years. He said, “he was always vigilant, protecting the rights of the people. He said things that other people were afraid to say. When he spoke all that guff, he was just being protective. He really was a tender dude.” When an attempt to name a Brooklyn street after him was rejected by local government officials in 2007, the issue of Race was reportedly a factor. Not surprisingly, Charles Barron, a Democrat New York councilman and former Black Panther who helped spearhead the campaign for the local tribute, slammed the decision and also highlighted Sonny’s positive role in the community saying he’d “got more Crack houses closed than the entire Police Department.” He was referring to the ’Black Men’s Movement Against Crack,’ which Carson founded in the 1980s when there was a surge in the use of the drug across the US. The activist’s son, Lumumba – perhaps better known to music fans as, Professor X of the Hip Hop group, X-Clan, which first began to make waves in the early 1990s with albums such as, ’To the East, Blackwards’ – was inspired enough to voice his own thoughts on the issue. In 1993, he teamed up with legendary rappers including, Big Daddy Kane, Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers, Public Enemy’s Chuck D, and Digital Underground’s Humpty Hump to record the track, ‘Close the Crack House Down.’ Lumumba was renowned for addressing political and social topics in his music as well as African ideology, history and Black pride. Apparently, his father influenced this direction. “My lyrical content wasn’t as positive until my father interjected himself into my life by showing me what was happening in the streets of the city,” he reportedly said. “He’d say: ‘Don’t always just walk by a drunk guy and ignore him. Maybe buy him a meal and have a conversation with him, because you could learn something.’ Walking the streets… started me writing the poetry that turned into the lyrics on ‘To the East, Blackwards.’”

Professor X.

Professor X.

Sonny Carson has also been acknowledged for his contribution to the founding of New York’s Medgar Evers College which, according to it’s official website, “was established in 1969 and named in 1970, with a mandate to meet the educational and social needs of the Central Brooklyn community.” Malcolm X’s widow, Betty Shabazz began teaching there in 1976, and remained as a valued staff-member until her death in 1997. Hailed a seminal figure in the struggle for self-determination and empowerment of Blacks in America, Sonny acknowledged his African roots and acquired the name, Mwlina Imiri Abubadika. In 1998, he took the bones of his slave ancestor, Samuel Carson, to his final resting place in Ghana after the remains had been found with hundreds of others in an old cemetery in Lower Manhattan which had been built over, and at a Navy yard in Brooklyn. He’d died in 1845 aged just 28 whilst fighting in the US war against Mexico, and had previously escaped from the plantations of South Carolina. Through his active involvement in the ‘African Burial Ground’ project, the activist also assisted other families who sought to do the same for their ancestors. A long-time colleague of his, Tarik Haskins, reportedly said, “he dropped his slave name, took a free African name, and made himself emotionally and educationally mature. Abubadika significantly contributed to our efforts to be free. All of us are going to have to go down that same road.”

Sonny with rapper, KRS-ONE (left).

Sonny with rapper, KRS-ONE (left).

As has perhaps been demonstrated above, the issue of education was of particular interest to Sonny because the US school system was, as far as he was concerned, “the most dangerous period for Black people, because this is when it starts – the mechanism for submission to the most sophisticated type of oppression that victimises Black people… I began to perceive of this as the most magnificent kind of programming that’s ever been devised by any system in the history of mankind. For then it begins. White, White, White, White… White, White, White, all through the years… this was then the beginning of my mis-education.”

The idea that African-Americans in the classroom have been manipulated and controlled through a diet of propaganda that devalues their Race, restricts their aspirations, and prevents them from achieving their full potential later in adult life is by no means a new one. Decades before Carson made his mark as an activist, the celebrated Black historian, author and one-time school-teacher, Dr. Carter G. Woodson examined this issue in a book which is also said to have been another inspiration behind the title of Lauryn Hill’s best-selling album. Published in 1933, ‘The Mis-Education of the Negro’ questions the US school curriculum’s over-emphasis on “Caucasian” aspects of history, science, literature, language, and the arts. The author claims the achievements and exploits of Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, and later France and Britain take precedence in these subjects over the rarely if ever mentioned contributions made by “African kingdoms, the Songhay empire, and Ethiopia, which through Egypt decidedly influenced the civilisation of the Mediterranean world.” Furthermore, in the realms of business and commerce, Woodson argues that Blacks have suffered due to a lack of investment or support from their own Race who’ve been conditioned to believe that they are either too dishonest or lacking in ability to succeed. In religion, meanwhile, they seek solace and spiritual enlightenment from a theology handed down to them by their former slave masters and which is based on paganism and “Caucasian dogma“ delivered to them by preachers who “keep up the medieval hell-fire scare which the Whites have long since abandoned” and punctuated by “Praise the Lord,” “Hallelujah” worship. He doubts whether this oppressive and restrictive paradigm would be any different or undergo rapid change under the control of the “mis-educated Negro” who’s been schooled and conditioned to be a product of the very system he/she seeks to take charge of unless, Wilson proposes, they dedicate equal attention to African history, philosophy, literature, and anthropology alongside the study of “real facts” behind other cultures and civilisations of importance that already form the staple of a Caucasian-influenced curriculum – only then, he believes, will Blacks begin to understand the needs and concerns of their community and what they can do to bring about a positive change. Published during the era of racial segregation, and only some 60-plus years after the formal abolishment of slavery, it was a product of its time although many of the issues raised in it are still deemed relevant by numerous scholars, teachers, lecturers and campaigners of today.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson.

When Lauryn was asked about the meaning behind the title of her debut solo album during an interview for the ‘Chicago Tribune‘ in 1999, she said, “it started out as me wanting to talk about how organised education gives us general information, but there are things we have to learn by ourselves, outside that education that we are given. We have to figure out the world for ourselves in addition to the schooling we get – understanding your relationship with people, with yourself, with God.” A year later she commented, “… ’Mis-education,‘ every day it means something more to me, actually. People automatically thought, ’maybe her teachers didn’t teach anything.’ But that wasn’t it. The meaning behind it was really sort of a catch in me, learning that when I thought I was my most wise, was really not wise at all, and when my humility and innermost places that most people wouldn’t expect a lesson to come from – that’s where I learned so much. I term the phrase ‘mis-education,’ not because it was a mis-education per se, but just because it was sort of contrary to what the world says is education. This education that came from life and experience, and not necessarily all academic but related to living.” The album begins with the sound of a ringing school-bell followed by the voice of Black activist, poet, politician and teacher, Ras Baraka reading out from what sounds like a classroom register. When he gets to Lauryn’s name there’s no response. He told ’Rolling Stone’ magazine, “I was running for councilman in Newark and was also an eighth grade teacher. I was just about to take two of my students home and Lauryn called and asked if I could come up to her house… There were chairs set up in the living-room and a bunch of kids were there. She told me she wanted to discuss the concept of love. There was a blackboard and I wrote the letters ‘LOVE’ and we just went into the whole discussion.” This “discussion” is interspersed in-between the album’s tracks providing it with a thematic framework. Incidentally, Ras is the son of the outspoken Socialist poet, author, and activist, Amiri Baraka who, in 2002 sparked mainstream media controversy with his poem, ‘Somebody Blew Up America’ which features the lines, “who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed? Who told 4,000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers to stay home that day? Why did Sharon stay away? Who know why five Israelis was filming the explosion and cracking they sides at the notion?” He later elaborated on this at a Press conference telling those present that the Israeli government and President George W. Bush had advance knowledge of the September 11th attacks. Born, Everett Leroy Jones, he changed his name to Amiri Baraka in 1968 during the height of the Black civil rights era. In 2011, he composed the poem, ‘The New Invasion of Africa,’ which was an attack on US foreign policy in Libya: “So it wd be this way / That they wd get a Negro / To bomb his own home / To join with the actual colonial / Powers, Britain, France, add Poison Hillary / With Israeli and Saudi to make certain / That revolution in Africa must have a stopper.” However, like fellow activist Sonny Carson, Baraka has often been labelled a racist and anti-Semite by his fiercest critics. A number of detractors point towards an essay first published in 1965 titled, ’American Sexual Reference: Black Male’ as proof of this. In it he states, “most American White men are trained to be fags. For this reason it is no wonder their faces are weak and blank.…The average ofay (White person) thinks of the Black man as potentially raping every White lady in sight. Which is true, in the sense that the Black man should want to rob the White man of everything he has. But for most Whites the guilt of the robbery is the guilt of rape. That is, they know in their deepest hearts that they should be robbed, and the White woman understands that only in the rape sequence is she likely to get cleanly, viciously popped.” Defending this in 2009, he said, “those quotes are from the essays in ‘Home,’ a book written almost 50 years ago. The anger was part of the mindset created by, first, the assassination of John Kennedy, followed by the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, followed by the assassination of Malcolm X amidst the lynching, and national oppression. A few years later, the assassination of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.” He’s also dismissed the ‘anti-Semite’ accusations insisting that he’s opposed to Zionists, not Jews.

A bird's-eye view of a school-desk forms the basis of Lauryn's 'Miseducation' album-cover.

A bird’s-eye view of a school-desk forms the basis of Lauryn’s ‘Miseducation’ album-cover.

Although the album’s overall sound is easy to the ear, some of the lyrical content is confrontational, resolute, and exceptionally candid for an artist who was a major mainstream act at the time. On, ‘Forgive Them Father’ Lauryn sings, “beware the false motives of others. Be careful of those who pretend to be brothers. And you never suppose it’s those who are closest to you, to you. They say all the right things to gain their position. Then use your kindness as their ammunition. To shoot you down in the name of ambition, they do / Get yours in this capitalistic system. So many caught or got bought you can’t list them. How you gonna idolise the missing? To survive is to stay alive in the face of opposition. Even when they comin’ gunnin’. I stand position / Let’s free the people from deception. If you looking for the answers. Then you gotta ask the questions / Why Black people always be the ones to settle. March through these streets like Soweto. Like Cain and Abel, Caesar and Brutus, Jesus and Judas, backstabbers do this. Forgive them father for they know not what they do. Forgive them father for they know not what they do.” The song, ‘To Zion’ was named after Lauryn’s baby son born in 1997. According to the lyrics, it would appear that she was facing pressure during her pregnancy to have him aborted for the sake of her career. The child’s father and the singer’s boyfriend at the time, Rohan Marley, son of Bob Marley, told ‘Rolling Stone,’ “she ended up having a child from myself and ones telling her she need to abort the child. Those songs, it’s all her experience.”

Unsure of what the balance held
I touched my belly overwhelmed
By what I had been chosen to perform
But then an angel came one day
Told me to kneel down and pray
For unto me a man child would be born
Woe this crazy circumstance
I knew his life deserved a chance
But everybody told me to be smart
Look at your career they said,
“Lauryn, baby use your head”
But instead I chose to use my heart

Now the joy of my world is in Zion
Now the joy of my world is in Zion

How beautiful if nothing more
Than to wait at Zion’s door
I’ve never been in love like this before
Now let me pray to keep you from
The perils that will surely come
See life for you my prince has just begun
And I thank you for choosing me
To come through unto life to be
A beautiful reflection of his grace
For I know that a gift so great
Is only one God could create
And I’m reminded every time I see your face

That the joy of my world is in Zion
Now the joy of my world is in Zion
Now the joy of my world is in Zion
Now the joy of my world is in Zion

Marching, marching, marching to Zion
Marching, marching
Marching, marching, marching to Zion
Beautiful, beautiful Zion


Lauryn told the ‘Chicago Tribune,’ “when you’re pregnant, you’re very emotional. I think that was a huge benefit in making this album. I wrote most of the songs prior to giving birth. The events in my life that became the basis for this album were unclear to me – I was in this cycle of disillusionment – but when I got pregnant, everything became very real and very clear and I was able to see everything that I had experienced for what it was. It’s hard to tell a story when you’re unsure how it’s going to turn out, but after having my son, there was an ending to the story, an ending to a certain period of my life, and everything was very clear.”
One perhaps shouldn’t dismiss the possibility that Lauryn Hill’s decision to retreat from the Music Media Machine and all its bright lights was a conscious step towards correcting the mistakes of her own mis-education? During an interview in 2000, she said the record-industry was full of “pitfalls, snares,” and “traps, and they don’t stop. They keep coming, they don’t stop, they keep coming. They don’t stop. I think that because I grew up in such a loving family structure, I thought that everybody did. Therefore I thought that everybody reaped the benefit of that love. Pretty naïve way to think. And so I learned very important lessons about people and their voids, and how when you have voids – like a black hole just sucks and consumes everything into it. And I met a lot of those people. Here I was this ship, I just want to love, but a lot of black holes, a lot of people with a lot of deep, deep painful voids who found it easy to take advantage, and to manipulate and to deceive someone. With me who just – all I want to do is love.” She told ‘Essence’ magazine in 2009, “people need to understand that the Lauryn Hill they were exposed to in the beginning was all that was allowed in that arena at that time. There was much more strength, spirit and passion, desire, curiosity, ambition and opinion that was not allowed in a small space designed for consumer mass appeal and dictated by very limited standards. I had to step away when I realised that for the sake of the machine, I was being way too compromised. I felt uncomfortable about having to smile in someone’s face when I really didn’t like them or even know them well enough to like them. I thought it was okay for me to write a song about something complicated if I was going through something complicated. But I discovered people could only acknowledge red and blue and I was somewhere between. I was purple. I had to fight for an identity that doesn’t fit in one of their boxes. I’m a whole woman. And when I can’t be whole, I have a problem. By the end I was like, ‘I’ve got to get out of here.’”

Lauryn back in the day.

Lauryn back in the day.

She continued, “for two or three years I was away from all social interaction. There was no music. There was no television. It was a very introspective and complicated time because I had to really confront my fears and master every demonic thought about inferiority, about insecurity or the fear of being Black, young and gifted in this Western culture. It took a considerable amount of courage, faith and risk to gain the confidence to be myself. I had to deal with folks who weren’t happy about that. I was a young woman with an evolved mind who was not afraid of her beauty or her sexuality. For some people that’s uncomfortable. They didn’t understand how female and strong work together. Or young and wise. Or Black and divine.”

She returned to the glare of the mainstream spotlight, albeit briefly, in 2001 for an ‘MTV Unplugged’ special, but, unlike the majority of artists who’d performed on the show before her, there were no stripped-down versions of past hits, and comparatively, very few covers (just two). Instead, her set was a showcase of never-before-heard brand new material. Any one who turned up to the event expecting to see the mini-skirted Fugee Rap-queen of old busting through a repertoire of predictable crowd-pleasers would have perhaps discovered almost all at once that this wasn’t going to happen. Hill told her audience, “fantasy is what people want but reality is what they need. And I’ve just retired from the fantasy part.” Dressed in a head-scarf, baseball cap, jumper, and jeans, and with her acoustic guitar on her lap, she waxed lyrical on topics ranging from the personal to the societal, such as on the song, ‘I Find it Hard to Say (Rebel)’ which was initially written about the death of Amadou Diallo, a West African immigrant in New York who was gunned down in 1999 by four plain-clothes police officers. Supposedly mistaking him for a rape suspect, they approached him as he stood outside his apartment block and began to shoot as he retreated inside firing a total of 41 shots, 19 of which hit him. When it later transpired he had no criminal record and that the gun they claimed to have seen him pull out was in fact a wallet, protests reportedly broke out in the city on a daily basis, and when the subsequent murder trial led to the acquittal of all four officers, thousands took to the streets to demonstrate. Lauryn says she eventually came to realise that the song she wrote in response to Amadou’s tragic death was essentially about “freedom… we could look at, you know, one human-being, but it’s about the spirit of freedom being taken out, and how it’s taken out in all of us.”

I find it hard to say, that everything is alright
Don’t look at me that way, like everything is alright
Cuz my own eyes can see, through all your false pretences
But what you fail to see, is all the consequences
You think our lives are cheap, and easy to be wasted
As history repeats, so foul you can taste it
And while the people sleep, too comfortable to face it
His life so incomplete, and nothing can replace it
And while the people sleep, too comfortable to face it
Your lives so incomplete, and nothing can replace it
Fret not thyself I say, against these laws of man
Cuz like the Bible says, His blood is on their hands
And what I gotta say, and what I gotta say, is rebel
While today is still today, choose well
And what I gotta say, is rebel, it can’t go down this way
Choose well, choose well, choose well…
…choose well, choose well, choose well
And while the people sleep, too comfortable to face it
Your lives are so incomplete, and nothing, and no one, can replace it
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no
And what I gotta say, and what I gotta say
And what I gotta say, and what I gotta say
And what I gotta say, and what I gotta say
And what I gotta say, and what I gotta say
Is rebel… rebel, rebel, rebel, rebel, rebel, rebel
Rebel, rebel, rebel, rebel, rebel
Repent, the day is far too spent, rebel… rebel!
Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up…
Wake up and rebel
We must destroy in order to rebuild
Wake up, you might as well
Oh are you… oh are you satisfied
Oh are you satisfied
Rebel… ohhh rebel
Why don’t you rebel, why don’t you rebel?
Why don’t you rebel?


Another song from the ‘Unplugged’ special worth noting is…

Everybody knows that they’re guilty
Everybody knows that they’ve lied
Everybody knows that they’re guilty
Resting on their conscience eating their inside
It’s freedom, said it’s freedom time now
It’s freedom, said it’s freedom time now
Time to get free, oh give us yourselves up now
It’s freedom, said it’s freedom time

Yo, there’s a war in the mind, over territory
For the dominion
Who will dominate the opinion
Skisms and isms, keepin’ us in forms of religion
Conformin’ our vision
To the world churches decision
Trapped in a section
Submitted to committee election
Moral infection
Epidemic lies and deception
Of the highest possible order
Destortin’ our tape recorders
From hearin’ like under water
Beyond the borders
Fond of sin and disorder
Bound by the strategy
It’s systematic depravity
Heavy as gravity
Head first in the cavity
Without a bottom
A faith, worse than Saddam
Once got him
Drunk of the spirits
Truth comes, we can’t hear it
When you’ve been, programmed to fear it
I had a vision
I was fallin’ in indecision
Apollin’, callin’ religion
Some program on television
How can dominant wisdom
Be recognized in the system
Of Anti-Christ, the majority rules
Intelligent fools
PhD’s in illusion
Masters of mass confusion
Bacholors in past illusion
Now who you choosin’
The head or the tail
The bloodshed of male
More confidence in the tale
Conference is in Yale
Discussin’ doctrines of Baal
Causin’ people to fail
Keepin’ the third in jail
His word is nale
Everything to the tree
Severing all of me from all that I used to be
Formless and void
Totally paranoid
Enjoy darkness as the Lord
Keepin’ me from the sword
Block for mercy
Bitter than purgatory
Hungry and thirsty
For good meat we would eat
And still, dined at the table of deceit
How incomplete
From confrontation to retreat
We prolong the true enemy’s defeat
Death to the ascendancy
Causin’ desperation to get the best of me
Punishment ’til there was nothing left of me
Realizin’ the unescapable death of me
No options in the valley of decision
The only doctrine, supernatural circumcision
Inwardly, only water can purge the heart
From words that fiery darts
Thrown by the workers of the arts
Iniquity, shapen in
There’re no escapin’ when
You’re whole philosophy is paper thin
In vanity
The wide road is insanity
Could it be all of humanity
Picture that
Scripture that
The origin of a man’s heart is black
How can we show up for
An invisible war
Preoccupied with a shadow, makin’ love with a whore
Achin’ in sores
Babylon, the great mystery
Mother of human history
System of social sorcery
Our present condition
Needs serious recognition
Where there’s no repentance there can be no remission
And that sentence, more serious than Vietnam
The atom bomb is Saddam and Minister Farakkhan
What’s goin’ on, what’s the priority to you
What authority do we do
When the majority hasn’t a clue
We majored in curses
Search the chapters, check the verses
Recapture the land
Remove the mark from off of our hands
So we can stand
In agreement with his command
Everything else is damned
Let them what is understand
Everything else is damned, let them with ears understand

It’s freedom, said it’s freedom time now
It’s freedom, said it’s freedom time now
It’s freedom, I’ma be who I am
It’s freedom time, said it’s freedom time
Everybody knows that they’ve lied
Everybody knows that they’ve perpetrated inside
Everybody knows that they’re guilty, yes
Resting on their conscience eating their insides
Get free, be who you’re supposed to be
Freedom, said it’s freedom time now
Freedom, said it’s freedom time
Freedom, freedom time now


If there’s any one song from the MTV set, or indeed Lauryn’s entire catalogue, that has attracted the most attention amongst those of us who make a point of scrutinising the highly suspect machinations of the entertainment industry then it’s, ‘I Get Out.’ What with it’s references to an unspecified person or entity that’s “promotin’ mass deception,” and Hill’s first-person delivery that refers to being “a slave” whose “eternal soul” is being stolen, many interested onlookers believe it to be the singer’s own true-life inside observations of the Illuminati-backed music-business and her bid to break free from its grip…

I get out, I get out of all your boxes
I get out, you can’t hold me in these chains
I’ll get out
Father free me from this bondage
Knowin’ my condition
Is the reason I must change

Your stinkin’ resolution
Is no type of solution
Preventin’ me from freedom
Maintainin’ your pollution
I won’t support your lie no more
I won’t even try no more
If I have to die, oh Lord
That’s how I choose to live
I won’t be compromised no more
I can’t be victimised no more
I just don’t sympathise no more
Cause now I understand
You just wanna use me
You say “love” then abuse me
You never thought you’d lose me
But how quickly we forget
That nothin’ is for certain
You thought I’d stay here hurtin’
Your guilt trip’s just not workin’
Repressin’ me to death
Cause now I’m choosin’ life, yo
I take the sacrifice, yo
If everything must go, then go
That’s how I choose to live

That’s how I choose to live…

No more compromises
I see past your disguises
Blindin’ through mind control
Stealin’ my eternal soul
Appealin’ through material
To keep me as your slave

But I get out
Oh, I get out of all your boxes
I get out
Oh, you can’t hold me in these chains
I’ll get out
Oh, I want out of social bondage
Knowin’ my condition
Oh, is the reason I must change

See, what you see is what you get
Oh, and you ain’t seen nothin’ yet
Oh, I don’t care if you’re upset
I could care less if you’re upset
See it don’t change the truth
And your hurt feeling’s no excuse
To keep me in this box
Psychological locks
Repressin’ true expression
Cementin’ this repression
Promotin’ mass deception
So that no one can be healed
I don’t respect your system
I won’t protect your system
When you talk I don’t listen
Oh, let my Father’s will be done

And just get out
Oh, just get out of all these bondage
Just get out
Oh, you can’t hold me in chains
Just get out
All these traditions killin’ freedom
Knowin’ my condition
Is the reason I must change

I’ve just accepted what you said
Keepin’ me among the dead
The only way to know
Is to walk then learn and grow
But faith is not your speed
Oh, you’ve had everyone believed
That you’re the sole authority
Just follow the majority
Afraid to face reality
The system is a joke
Oh, you’d be smart to save your soul
Oh, when escape is mind control
You spent your life in sacrifice
To a system for the dead
Oh, are you sure…
Where is the passion in this living
Are you sure it’s God you servin’
Obligated to a system
Getting less then you’re deserving
Who made up these schools, I say
Who made up these rules, I say
Animal conditioning
Oh, just to keep us as a slave

Oh, just get out
Of this social purgatory
Just get out
All these traditions are a lie
Just get out
Superstition killing freedom
Knowin’ my condition
Is the reason I must die
Just get out
Just get out
Just get out
Let’s get out
Let’s get out
Knowin’ my condition
Is the reason I must die
Just get out


In between songs during her ‘Unplugged’ appearance, Lauryn spoke at length to the audience about some of the “life lessons” she’d been learning. For example, she said, “I came to terms with the fact that I had created this public persona, this public illusion and… it held me hostage – I couldn’t be a real person because you’re too afraid of – you know – of what your public will say, and at that point… I just had to do some dying and really accept the fact that – look – this is who I am and I have to be who I am and all of us have the right to be who we are. And whenever we submit our will – because our will is a gift that’s given to us – whenever we submit our will to someone else’s opinion – you know, I mean – a part of us dies.” It couldn’t have come across any clearer. Lauryn was done with her past. She told her audience that the days of “dressing up” were over. What interested her now was Reality and Truth. She said, “the Truth is from the inside out – you know – and the way we’ve been trying to heal and be healed is with these topical, surface, superficial, temporary solutions and I’m telling you true healing is from the inside out. You know, we’ve been told to protect our outer-man, while our inner-man is dying.”

Lauryn at MTV 'Unplugged' special, 2001

Lauryn at MTV ‘Unplugged’ special, 2001

She also discussed emotional issues. “I’m a mess,” she said. “God is dealing with me every day. Every day I’m trying to learn – you know – how I can be less of a mess. He showed me… ‘Look, Lauryn… you’re the problem… I’mma show you how you’re causing the problem, and now I just want you to be the solution.’ And that’s what all of these songs are about is, Problem, Cause and Solution. Free your mind.” Comments such as this undoubtedly did little to quell the rumour-mongering and speculation of the mainstream media commentators who’d been discussing the so-called ‘state’ of Lauryn’s mental stability for some time. Indeed, when the ‘Unplugged’ set was released as an album in 2002, music critics who analysed it dedicated almost as much attention to the sections where Hill was talking to the audience as they did to the songs. Some journalists were more scathing than others, perhaps no more so than ’The Guardian’s,’ Alex Petridis. In a review titled, ’Songs from La-La Land,’ he dedicates just one out of a total of eight paragraphs to the actual musical content whilst the remainder of the article is largely focused on attacking her personality (he implies that she’s ‘selfish’), her behaviour during the show (unjustly labels her “facetious” and “condescending”), and her state of mind (he refers to her as “barking mad”). Most striking of all is where he writes, “as you reach for the Off button, however, there’s a gripping diversion: Hill starts holding a discussion with ‘the people in my head.’ Uh-oh.” What Petridis doesn’t inform the reader is, the “people” in Lauryn’s “head” are most likely one or more members of the MTV studio-crew talking to the singer through an earpiece – as can be clearly seen in the video-version of the show. Why he stops short of clarifying this important point is any ones’ guess.

You can read Petridis’s article here:

Purported “reviews” such as the one put forward by Petridis and ‘The Guardian’ are grossly unfair if not downright offensive. There’s very little if any indication throughout the ’Unplugged’ show of a woman experiencing any serious mental or emotional issues. Fear? Maybe. Uncertainty? Perhaps, but no more or less than any one of us who’s seeking Enlightenment, Purity, Truth, and Love – subjects she talks about during her live set coherently, articulately and quite profoundly. But, of course, it’s what we’ve come to expect from the Mainstream-Media Complex, isn’t it? Is it surprising that journalists who work for it are seemingly so willing to launch unwarranted personal attacks on artists such as Hill who promote positivity and enlightenment in their music? Perhaps Lauryn should count herself lucky that she’s being given any attention at all? Petridis’s “review” is – at best – the work of a left-brainer with no concept of life beyond what he can physically see in front of him, or, at worst, a deliberate attempt to discredit.

If there are clues worth examining that might shed some light of truth on the endless rumours and doubts regarding the alleged fragility of Lauryn Hill’s mental health, then they won’t be found in her ’Unplugged’ show or in the irrelevant musings of blinkered music critics such as Alex Petridis. Instead, we ought to look to other sources, and where better than in the direction of her fellow Fugees, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel? In 2005, they both teamed-up with the singer/rapper and began to work on new material. This was the first time they’d fully collaborated in the studio together since the late 1990s when they were riding high off the global success of, ‘The Score,‘ the 1996 album that spawned four hit singles, the majority of which are still popular today, such as, ’Ready or Not,’ and their cover of the Roberta Flack classic, ’Killing Me Softly.’

Lauryn with her fellow Fugees, Wyclef Jean (left), and Pras Michel (right) in 1996.

Lauryn with her fellow Fugees, Wyclef Jean (left), and Pras Michel (right) in 1996.

Their comeback, however, was brief. After completing a live tour of Europe, the group went their separate ways again in 2006. Pras reportedly blamed Lauryn for the short-lived reunion. He said, “before I work with Lauryn Hill again, you will have a better chance of seeing Osama Bin Laden and (George W.) Bush in ‘Starbucks’ having a latte, discussing foreign policies, before there will be a Fugees reunion.“ He continued, “at this point I really think it will take an act of God to change her, because she is that far out there.” He’s also been quoted as saying, “Lauryn Hill is like to me the greatest artist in the last 25 or 30 years, but – still – if you mentally ill, you mentally ill. I’m not no expert, but based on my professional opinion, she needs medication. I think it’s bi-polar.” In a 2007 interview for ‘,’ Wyclef said the same, “I think Lauryn is Bi-Polar. At this point I really think it will take an act of God to change her.” In 2009, he told ‘Blues & Soul’ magazine, “I think she needs a psychiatrist, just to sit with and talk. Because, with the state that she`s in, no-one should be letting her do shows. I think it`s more a case of getting her to hospital and talking about what the problem is. Like, in my personal opinion, those Fugees reunion shows shouldn`t have been done, because we wasn’t ready. I really felt we shoulda first all gone into a room with Lauryn and a psychiatrist. So that, when we left the room, everybody was hugging. But, you know, I do believe Lauryn can get help. And, once she does work things out, hopefully a proper and enduring Fugees reunion will happen.” Hill’s supposed fragile mental health is often said to be the reason why her reputation as a live performer has dwindled over the years. Reports of her turning up late to concerts only then to sing incoherently and well below-par have dogged her. Wyclef raised this issue during his 2007 interview with ‘’ He said, “I mean I think the people who were booking her for these shows… need to be questioned. Why were they booking her when she’s in this state? Why is she keeping everyone waiting 2-3 hours before she comes out to perform? Why has she got blue eye shadow on one side of the face and green eye shadow on the other? She looks like a clown. I mean come on, you’ve seen the pictures, right?”

"CLOWN"?... Lauryn performing in Oakland, California, 2007.

“CLOWN”?… Lauryn performing in Oakland, California, 2007.

At one concert in Oakland, California in August 2007, some of the audience reportedly began to boo when Hill sang unrecognisable new “scatting” arrangements of old favourites, and a significant number walked out demanding refunds after having waited a number of hours for her to appear. One disgruntled fan who attended the show posted this on the ‘net: “Man, I went and seen Lauryn Hill last night. Broad is crazy. She had that make-up on like a bag lady, like cake face with reds and blues. She wasn’t even performing songs, she was chanting and walking around.” A lot of attention was also focused on a moment during the concert when she fell over. Depending where you look, no one website describes it exactly the same way. One blogger who was there implied that she was perhaps under the influence of alcohol or something stronger. He then claims she “stumbled about the stage and, at one point, actually fell flat on her back.” She “blamed her stage fall on her high heels and, later in the show, took the time to assure the crowd that she was sober.” A review by the ‘San Francisco Chronicle’ isn’t quite so colourful. It makes no reference to ‘stumbling’ or the partaking of substances (legal or otherwise) and merely states that she “tripped and fell, landing flat on her backside” and blamed it on her high-heels. Meanwhile another fan who attended the show posted on an internet forum, “the carpet tripped her up. Shortly after, the prop guys came up and rolled it up and took it off stage.” Depending on which one of these three accounts of the live gig you read, you’re very likely to be left with a completely different impression of Lauryn Hill. Where one might leave you thinking she was stupid or clumsy for wearing inappropriate shoes or for tripping over a carpet, another perhaps reinforces that niggling feeling you’ve had at the back of your head for a while that she’s mentally unstable and heading for a meltdown. Whilst it’d be unwise to ignore Pras Michel’s and Wyclef Jean’s first-hand observations about what happened during their aborted Fugees reunion, the three varying descriptions above of the Oakland performance illustrate how easily a person’s reputation can be potentially tarnished (deliberately or otherwise) by falsehoods and/or exaggeration. In 2000, Lauryn said, “whenever you stand for something and you stand for goodness and truth, you will always get resistance – that’s period. Whether you’re in pharmaceutical – the pharmaceutical industry, the record industry, or whatever. Whenever you stand for truth and for the service, you know, the service of others…because there are people who have not reached that point in their walk. You know, yes, there‘s a little anger, there‘s a little resentment because you raise a standard, you know – especially when you do it and you make some noise. You know, and you do it and people are actually listening to what you have to say and like your record is bumpin‘ on the radio and you‘re saying something that holds a mirror up to a lot of the negativity and self indulgent things…” She told MTV, “I don’t know anybody that’s not emotionally unstable or schizophrenic. People wake up, they have one mood, they have another mood. The only reason why it’s looked at as crazy is because we have these images, these icons before us that are not reality. I’m saying, ‘who told you that was the standard?’” One person’s idea of madness is another’s idea of genius, so, despite that fact that wearing different shades of make-up on your face and looking “like a clown” isn’t considered a conventional image, it doesn’t necessarily signify mental illness either.

During the Oakland show, Lauryn paused for a while and spoke to the audience about her bid to prise herself away from “the Powers That Be.” If this is what passes for ‘madness’ these days, then count me in:

Lauryn’s former Fugee-mate, Pras, has also spoken out about a mysterious individual named ’Brother Anthony’ who’s said to have been a dominant influence on Hill’s life for over a decade. Little is known about him, although he’s generally regarded by most sources to be some sort of religious figure of undetermined denomination or church. In a 2003 ‘Rolling Stone’ article titled, ‘The Mystery of Lauryn Hill,’ Michel is quoted as saying, “Brother Anthony was definitely on some other s**t. I had a tape of (his teachings). That s**t is ill. F****d me up. I can’t really explain it. It was some weird s**t, man. It was some real cult s**t. When I heard the tape, I couldn’t believe that this dude was really serious. He was sayin‘, ‘give up all your money.’ I don’t know if that meant ’give it to me’ or whatever, but on the tape he said, ‘money doesn’t mean anything.’” According to the article, which is mostly based on the claims of anonymous “friends” and “associates” of Hill’s, the mysterious guru-type figure met the singer/rapper shortly before she made the decision to quit the music-industry and revaluate her life. Within months of their first meeting, she was attending Bible classes with him “two or three times a week.” Indeed, during an MTV interview, Lauryn did say she had “met somebody” who “had an understanding of the Bible,” although she didn‘t exactly specify who. She said she “just sat at their feet and ingested pure scripture for about a year. I started to see I was my worst enemy. I was the problem, my own self-image, who I thought I should be, as opposed to who I really was. I just ate it up. I started to see that my concept of spirituality was totally wrong. Real religion is no religion at all. Truth is the true covering, and when I started to see that, two things happened. My creativity came back in an overflowing abundance, and I got into direct confrontation with everybody I love.” When asked who this unidentified individual was, she replied, “it’s a brother. I don’t speak about him publicly, because he is a good friend of mine. He’s not an ambitious person. He just shares, and people want truth. I believe God will make a way and He is going to identify (the man).” If this unnamed “brother” is indeed Anthony, her description of his personality is at odds with those of her ‘friends’ quoted in the ‘Rolling Stone’ article. “His whole demeanour was real possessive, aggressive and crooked to me,” one says. “You know how people are slick? He’s a quick talker.” Another is reported as saying that it was like Hill was “being brainwashed by this man, believing everything he was saying and telling’ her what to do.” In an interview published in September last year, her former long-time boyfriend, Rohan Marley, appeared to be blaming their break-up on this individual, although – yet again – no name was given. He said, “I didn’t agree with what the (Bible studies) guy was saying and you can’t live under the same roof (as your partner) if she’s taking talk from someone else.”
So, who is this ’Brother Anthony’ who’s described in the 2003 ‘Rolling Stone’ article as “a tall Black man in his forties”? To what extent has his alleged influence impacted on Lauryn Hill and her life decisions? We’ll investigate this further in just a while.

————————————————————————————————————————— TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT?

Just how close Lauryn Hill actually was to the dark undercurrent of sickening depravity that’s seemingly all pervasive in the entertainment industry can be illustrated by the stomach-churning activities of Aswad Ayinde, the man who directed the music-video for the Fugees’ hit ’Ready or Not.’ Just last week (July 26th 2013), he was handed a 50-year prison sentence after being convicted of impregnating his daughter a total of four times from the age of 8 to 22 in what his ex-wife reportedly told a court back in 2010 was a bid to create “pure” family bloodlines. Beverly Ayinde was quoted as saying, “he said the world was going to end and it was just going to be him and his offspring and that he was chosen.”

Aswad Ayinde.

Aswad Ayinde.

Beverly and Aswad separated in 2002, and he was finally arrested in 2006 after she reported him to the police. He’s already serving a 40-year term after a jury in 2011 convicted him of sexual assault on another of his daughters who, it’s said, he’d begun to molest when she was 8 and who would later go on to give birth to his child when she was a teenager. She’s purportedly said of her father, “he felt that I was of his own creation. He felt he was above the law.” Furthermore, “if he has a child with one of his own children, then it will be a supreme being.” Beverly is reported to have recalled, “as time went on, he was god-like. I had to call him, ‘my god.’ He equated himself to Jesus Christ… He would sit us all down and lecture us about his greatness and his power… At another point, he equated himself to Prince and Michael Jackson.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. Apparently, he faces three more trials – one for each of the remaining daughters he’s accused of assaulting. His former wife, who had a total of nine children with Aswad during their 32-year marriage, is reported to have said, “he was having regular relationships with all the girls. I wasn’t fighting back. I was afraid to fight back. I was afraid to ever accuse him of being demented or being a paedophile. I knew the word, but I wouldn’t dare use it because it would result in a beating. I’m sure my not standing up to him didn’t help the kids. They felt dis-empowered also. There was just a lot of fear. Everybody was threatened.” During the first trial, one of his daughters described what a “beating” might consist of, claiming she was both a witness to and victim of these attacks which were administered with wooden boards and steel-toed boots. Most of his children were born at home and didn’t even have birth certificates. Indeed, his wife and one of her children reportedly testified in court that Aswad would often tell them how easily he could kill them without repercussions because there was no documentation to prove they even existed. Prosecutors argued that he used this as a tactic to keep his family from informing anyone of their secret life. During one period, Aswad forced them to live in an abandoned and dilapidated funeral home he’d bought, and where the raping continued. This old building, with no heating apparently, was situated in the city of Lauryn Hill‘s birth; East Orange in New Jersey, a US State regularly frequented by the Ayindes during their never-ending moves from one location to another, and often sparked by a necessity to escape the ever-growing suspicious glare of the police and child welfare.

‘Conspiro Media’ has been unable to determine what the precise nature of Aswad’s relationship was with the Fugees either prior to or after the making of the ‘Ready or Not‘ film, although it has been reported he was born in New Jersey, which isn’t only the place of Lauryn’s birth, but where Wyclef Jean grew up too. It’s entirely possible then, that Ayinde knew one or more of the Hip Hop group personally in some shape or form through this local connection. What is certain is his children would’ve been suffering under the grip of his torture and terror whilst he was working with the Fugees on their video back in ‘96.


With the obvious exception of the MTV ‘Unplugged’ set in 2001, Lauryn has showcased just a handful of new material over the years since. One of those worth noting is 2012’s ‘Black Rage,’ a socially conscious commentary that refers to ’poisoned water,’ greed and “spiritual treason” and rapped out over a Jazz-Funky (and infectious) reworking of the Rogers and Hammerstein song made famous in the ‘Sound of Music’; ‘My Favourite Things.’ Although many of the issues addressed in the lyrics could be applied to the majority of us who live in this upside-down world, the emphasis – perhaps – is on the injustices and tribulations of Blacks? Also, with its references to a Race of people being “fed” on a diet of “self hatred,” it leaves behind echoes of the issues highlighted by Lauryn’s purported ‘Miseducation’ fore-bearers, Sonny Carson and Carter G. Woodson.
Lauryn showcased ‘Black Rage’ during her concert-tour with fellow Rap legend, Nas in late 2012. In the video below, she performs it during a gig in Atlanta in November of that year…

I simply remember all these kinds of things
And then I don’t fear so bad…

Black rage is founded who fed us self hatred
Lies and abuse while we waited and waited
Spiritual treason
This grid and it’s cages
Black rage was founded on these kinds of things

Black rage is founded on dreaming and draining
Threatening your freedom
To stop your complaining
Poisoning your water
While they say it’s raining
Then call you mad
For complaining, complaining
Old time bureaucracy
Drugging the youth
Black rage is founded on blocking the truth
Murder and crime
Compromise and distortion
Sacrifice, sacrifice
Who makes this fortune?
Greed, falsely called progress
Such human contortion
Black rage is founded on these kinds of things

So when the dog bites
And the ceilings
And I’m feeling mad
I simply remember all these kinds of things
And then I don’t fear so bad

Free enterprise
Is it myth or illusion
Forcing you back into purposed confusion
Black human trafficking
Or blood transfusion
Black rage is founded on these kinds of things
Victims of violence
Both psyche and body
Life out of context IS living ungodly
Politics, politics
Greed falsely called wealth
Black rage is founded on denying of self
Black human packages
Tied and subsistence
Having to justify your very existence
Try if you must
But you can’t have my soul
Black rage is founded on ungodly control
So when the dog bites
And the beatings
And I’m feeling so sad
I simply remember all these kinds of things
And then I don’t feel so bad

TAKEN FROM LAURYN'S OWN 'TUMBLR' PAGES, the poster promoting her brief concert-tour with Nas - complete with 'Illuminati' symbols. *(CLICK TO ENLARGE FOR A CLOSER LOOK)

TAKEN FROM LAURYN’S OWN ‘TUMBLR’ PAGES, the poster promoting her brief concert-tour with Nas – complete with ‘Illuminati’ symbols.


As well as music, there’s been poetry. In 2005, Lauryn appeared at the ‘Def Poetry Jam,’ a regular event organised by the Hip Hop label, ‘Def Jam,’ and read, ‘Motives and Thoughts’:

Rotating bodies, confusion of sound
Negative imagery, holding us down
Social delusion, clearly constructed
Human condition, morals corrupted
Trapped in reaction, lawlessness war
Dissatisfaction from bowels to core
Devil’s technology, strategy for
Human mythologies, urban folklore
Sick of psychology, counterfeit cure
Wicked theology, robbing the poor
Scheme demonology mislead the pure
Strictly strategically studying war
Light shown in darkness, image exposed
Few can see through the new emperor’s clothes
Lustful this hustle turn humans to hoes
When the blind lead the blind
Just more trouble and woes
It’s the mind that they chose
Its designed to stay closed
Standard of jokers, court just a logic
Sick looking cosmics, from schoolyards to college

Primitive man with civilise knowledge
System collapse and he still won’t acknowledge

God is the saviour, studies behaviour
Trying to fix the mix mind that he gave ya
Stiff-necked scholars on prescription meds
Wishing their problems were all in their heads
Morale dilemma, pride is the root
Misguided from youth, heart divided from truth
Egyptians and Grecians, spiritually dead
Imperially led, by the gods in their heads

Motives and thoughts

Industrial wealth
Global economy, in it for self
Heart full of madness, covered with kind
Pleasure designed to take over your mind
Furnished in godliness, painted in good
This tainted priesthood got real saints misunderstood
While classes in government, set up the veil
And cultivate minds for more mythical tales
Typical Hollywood follies good girl
While vice and corruption take over the world

Motives and thoughts
Check your motives and thoughts

Blind with the wickedness, deep in your heart
Modern day wickedness is all you’ve been taught
Lied to your neighbours, so you get ahead
Modern day trickery is all you’ve been fed

Motives and thoughts
Check your motives and thoughts


Lauryn’s most recent track, ‘Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix),’ has caused a great deal of controversy since its release in May this year for its supposed ’anti-gay’ lyrics. Monica Miller, Ph.D., the author of the book, ‘Religion and Hip Hop,’ was at the forefront of the storm. In an article for BET (Black Music Entertainment), she wrote, “’Neurotic Society’ proclaims again that Babylon is falling – thanks in part to tricksters like ‘girl men,’ ’drag queens,’ and the lies of ‘social transvestism.’ Whether or not Hill is merely using these comments as examples of the smokescreens and sleight of hands that pervade this ‘Neurotic Society’ is unclear. Beyond intention, these sorts of statements suggest that society is in a shambles because it’s been taking too many cues from the LGBTQ community, acting like ‘girl men,’ ‘drag queens’ and ‘transvestites’… why does she think it’s cool to critique society by using stereotypes about a community that suggest the community isn’t as valuable as another?”

We’re living in a joke time, metaphorical coke time
Commerce and girl men, run the whole world men
bold, drunken debauchery, old world brutality
Cold world killed softly, whole world run savagely
Greedy men and pride fiends, program TV screens
Quick scam and drag queens, real life’s been blasphemed
Think twice its past dream, crime if you ask clean
Quick fast the poison has entered the blood stream
Psychological massacre, consequences of tragedy
Mythological characters, men and women as parody
Superficial the vanity, borderline the insanity
Out of order humanity, crime committed so passively/randomly
Desperadoes and casualties, corporations want batteries
Explanations and strategies, domination and mastery
Own jonesing and bankrupt grown people, so corrupt
Vice lords and yellow men, junkies of popularity
Culture so in dependence, vultures scavenge reality
Past, feeling, depravity, decaying social cavity
Preying on human ignorance, popular immorality
Symptoms of diseased head, population misled
Self indulgent past dead, absence of the God head
Pimps, pushers and, harlotry
Nepotism, no artistry
Despotism and piracy
Desperation, dishonesty
Business decision policy, more money, less equality
Inflated global ego, imitating reality
Pseudo psycho new pharaoh
Poisonous bows and arrows
Hypo critics on salary, idle hands Devil’s agency
Predisposed to complacency, jealousy, and audacity
Contagious social gluttony, stages of mass malignancy
Epidemic deception, generation in atrophy
Glam life in debt, scam life and editors
Bi-products of neglect, children hiding from creditors
Absence of self respect, phony scared of competitors
Lifestyle of luxury at someone’s expense
Sensitive children used up as a sacrifice
Blinded to consequence, smoked up in dope pipes
Ecstasy, fast life, recklessly pass life
Narcotics and cash fight in this neurotic society
Benefactors turned actors, addiction’s crippled captives
Experience manufactured in this neurotic, toxic society
It’s like post-war, they looking for the Communists or who the Marxist is
10,000 pictures on Facebook, that’s the pot calling the kettle narcissist
Come on really, saying the devil but you’re the chief arsonist
Hypocrites can’t even see their own part in this
No reflection, vampire paradigm
No introspection
This star that star rants has a breakdown 3 months before, pure obsession, picture
can’t take down
Children it’s a shake down
They’re just looking for a sacrifice
They’ve been doing this since before Bobby Darrin sang Mack the Knife
Before James Dean’s car did a jack knife
Perhaps because they lack life or lack guts
Never confuse the head with the butt
Opinions are like a**holes and most of ‘them stink
I was told by a woman so rethink
Don’t let these motherf*****s ever lead you to drink, lead you to doubt, lead you to fall
Get up stand up (and) cast Lucifer out
Shake it up baby, watch them twist it and then shout
Insecure a**holes just looking for a ticket
To ride on somebody like the Pick It It’s f*****g wicked
Shame on ‘nuh’
This neurotic, toxic society!
Sick psycho psychology in desperate need of psychiatry
Exorcisms, sobriety, forcing social lobotomies
People stuck in dichotomies, pseudo sicko anxieties
Serial criminals dressed in variety
Social transvestism, subliminal dressed up as piety
Transference, projections, like Cartesian images
Robbing innocence, stealing away inheritance
Quiet victims with no defence, betrayed over dollars and cents
Maladjusted and ignorant mal addiction and dissonance
Too much addiction no consciousness
Don’t trust it, the cosmology’s busted, broken
It returns to the dust
It stinks of corruption
Oppression, deceit, abuse in repeat
They don’t feel complete unless they’re misleading/robbing the sheep
Man is not a product if you call it that then stop it!
In this neurotic, Godless society

Lauryn reacted to the ‘anti-gay’ claims in a statement posted on her ‘tumblr’ page:

‘Neurotic Society’ is a song about people not being, or not being able to be, who and what they truly are, due to the current social construct. I am not targeting any particular group of people, but rather targeting everyone in our society who hides behind neurotic behaviour, rather than deal with it.
The world we live in now is, in many ways, an abhorrent distortion, an accumulation of generations and generations of response to negative stimuli. Many don’t even have a concept of what normal is, by virtue of having lived afraid, ashamed, as victims of abuse, or inadequately handled for so long. I believe in coming up from under that fear and allowing the psyche/soul to truly heal. I understand that healing is a process, but I also believe that it is our responsibility to seriously care for ourselves, so that we can extend that level of concern for others and positively affect our environment.
I want what is best for Humanity. Humanity, aligned with the Spiritual principles, that help each individual conquer fear, and transcend limited circumstance. I believe in healing and dealing with the traumatising events of our lives, both in this lifetime, as well as those passed down to us, or inherited, so we can live as fully as possible.
The whole world suffers from a lack of honest dialogue. Character and integrity have suffered at the hands of political correctness and corporate agenda, while our society moves further and further towards un-healthiness and breakdown. I oppose these trends.
Everyone has a right to their own beliefs. Although I do not necessarily agree with what everyone says or does, I do believe in everyone’s right to protest.
The overarching message of my music is to get up and stop compromising! And hopefully it will stimulate and motivate the changes that our society needs.
Artists are constantly under media and public scrutiny. This is not a one-way street. Those of us with the charge of putting out faithful vibrations, have a responsibility to report what we see, and to write about what we know. I have seen some of the best and also some of the worst representations of human behaviour. The same way that I exalt that which is high, is the same way I expose that which is abusive, in order to motivate and remind if not all of us, than as many as possible, of the Higher Calling.


Back in 1996, Lauryn was attacked for making alleged “racist” comments with the Fugees on an MTV programme. The claim was made by a caller to Howard Stern’s radio-show who told the DJ he heard the singer/rapper say she’d rather her family “starve” than have White people buy her albums. She’s also reported to have made such statements as, “I would rather die than have a White person buy one of my albums,” and “if I’d known White people were going to buy my last album, I never would have recorded it.” Hill called in to Stern’s radio-show to deny the allegations. You can hear a segment of that in the clip below in which she and Wyclef Jean field questions and observations from listeners, one of whom claims the Hip Hop group said, “we make music for Black people,“ and “we want the White people off the dance-floor.” Hill denies this (“I never said that”). She also refutes the ‘starvation’ accusations, saying, “first of all, my family will never starve” declaring that she’ll “do anything that I possibly have to do to” to keep them fed. Stern asks her if she’s “anti-White.” She replies, “no. I’m anti-destructive social situations that cause hostility and anger in the ghetto.” It soon becomes apparent that some of the callers aren’t reacting to what they themselves heard on the MTV interview, but, as one says, “a vibe going around the street” that people were “perceiving.” It gets even murkier when another listener calls in to say his son told him that the rumour was, the Fugees had said they wouldn’t “mind” if only Black people bought their music. As Stern himself says, “that’s a little different than sayin’, ‘we only want Black people to buy our music.’” Furthermore, according to the DJ, the caller who originally contacted him with the claims actually “wasn’t sure” if Hill had said any of what he’d initially accused her of saying. Lauryn steps in to clarify, “what happens is, is that a lot of times record companies only – you know – equate you with successful when you make cross-over success… what we’re saying is that we’re happy to sell – you know – 500,000, a million records in the Black community… you understand what I’m saying? We don’t have to be spread all over the Pop charts, because we make music and we feel music and we’re motivated by young kids who come from the communities that we come from…” A cloud of mystery still hangs over this old rumour even though MTV have reportedly denied any such comments were made by Lauryn or her fellow Fugee members. As far as ’Conspiro Media’ is aware, the music-channel has never re-screened the interview featuring the alleged remarks. It would have been a sensible move, would it not, to have done so when the allegations were at their height in order to quash them? So, if it wasn’t, why not?

Lauryn approached the issue of Race quite recently in relation to her tax issues and her subsequent court appearances that eventually led to her imprisonment. In yet another ‘tumblr’ post, she stated:

The concept of reverse racism is flawed, if not absolutely ridiculous. Most, if not all of the negative responses from people of colour toward White people, are reactions to the hatred, violence, cruelty and brutality that they were shown by White people for centuries. Much of the foundation of the modern world was built on the forced free labour of Black peoples. The African Slave Trade, the institution of slavery, colonialism, its derivative systems, and the multiple holocausts throughout history, where Whites used race as the defining reason to justify their oppression, conquest, and brutal treatment of non-White peoples, are how race became such a factor to begin with.

The initial claim by the oppressors, followed a moral imperative (so they said) that people outside of Occidental and European birth were in savage and cursed conditions, and that God justified the captivity of these people, and the rape and pillage of their lands.

Ironically, these oppressors would try to discard this same God, who supposedly justified this brutality, in the name of Darwin, whose famous line ‘survival of the fittest’ was used to justify criminal behaviour once the Bible could no longer be used as a hiding place for economic domination and evil intention.

Spirituality and morality were replaced by capitalism, and with it a conscious shift of focus toward the exploitation of the vulnerable.

In order to justify reverse racism one would have to first create an even playing field, undo the generations of torture, terror, and brutality, and then judge whether or not a non-white person is in fact a racist. This approach would require people to examine the need/addiction to feel superior to someone else for no justifiable reason, and the myriad policies: Spiritual, political and social, that it bore. True dominion is self evident and not the result of sabotaging another in order to achieve it. That would be an illegitimate as well as a fleeting position. The Universe, will eventually seek to right/balance itself.

Of course there are White people who live transcendent lives, not exploiting ill-gotten privilege or perpetuating the sins of their ancestors who used violence and deceit as a means to gain advantage over others. Humanity in proper order is obligated to acknowledge the Truth, whoever it comes from, be they Black, White or other. Righteous indignation is simply a response to long-standing evil.

Much of the world is still reeling from the abuses of Imperialist selfishness, misunderstanding, ignorance and greed. Black people remain in many ways a shattered community, disenfranchised, forcefully removed from context and still caged in, denied from making truly independent choices and experiencing existential freedom. Their natural homes, just like their natural selves, raped and pillaged of the resources and gifts God has given to them. Interpreted through someone else’s slanted lens and filter, they remain in many ways, misrepresented. Taxation without proper representation, might I remind you, was the very platform of protest that began the Revolutionary War, which gained this country its independence from England. Anger is not only the natural response to the abuse of power, but is also appropriate when there is no real acknowledgment of these abuses, or deep, meaningful and profound change.

If we took all of what we deem horrible regarding the criminal abuses that Black people have committed over this country’s history, and add it all up, it still does not compare to the hundreds of years of terrorism, violent domination, theft, rape, abuse, captivity, and beyond that Black people have suffered under the ideologies and systems of White supremacy, racism, and slave based paradigms. I say this only to say that abuse unresolved begets or creates abuse. How then does the chief offender become the judge? Might does not necessarily mean right. Right is right. People forcibly reduced to sub-human existences, so that they behave in sub-human ways, helps a system to justify itself or feel less guilty about its blood saturated foundation and gross crimes against humanity. People, like plants, grow where the light is. When you enclose a plant and limit its light source, it will bend itself toward the light, for the light is necessary for its survival. This same thing happens to people locked in communities where little light and little opportunity is allowed them, survival then forces them to twist and/or bend toward the only way of escape.

There is good. And I both acknowledge and encourage the good. Instead of throwing out the Baby with the bath water, we do well to expose the intentionally poisoned water the Baby has been forced to soak in since its origin in these lands. America’s particular brand of hypocrisy is gross (double entendre).

I shuddered during sentencing when I kept hearing the term ‘make the IRS whole’… make the IRS whole, knowing that I got into these very circumstances having to deal with the very energies of inequity and resistance that created and perpetuated these savage inequalities. The entire time, I thought, who has made Black people whole?! Who has made recompense for stealing, imposing, lying, murdering, criminalizing the traumatised, taking them against their wills, destroying their homes, dividing their communities, ‘trying’ to steal their destinies, their time, stagnating their development, I could go on and on. Has America, or any of the nations of the world guilty of these atrocities, ever made Black people or Africa whole or do they continue to sit on them, control them, manipulate them, cage them, rob them, brutalise them, subject them to rules that don’t apply to all? Use language, veiled coercion, and psychological torment like invisible fences to keep them locked into a pattern of limitation and therefore control by others. You have to remain  focused to cease from rage.

The prosecutor, who was a woman, made a statement during sentencing about me not doing any charity work for a number of years during my ‘exile.’ A) Charity work is not a requirement, but something done because someone wants to. I was clearly doing charitable works way before other people were even thinking about it. And B) Even the judge had to comment that she, meaning I, was both having and raising children during this period. As if that was not challenging enough to do. She sounded like the echo of the grotesque slave master, who expected women to give birth while in the field, scoop the Baby up, and then continue to work. Disgusting.

When you are beaten and penalised for being independent, or truly self reliant, then you develop a dysfunctional relationship with self-reliance, and a fear of true independence. When you are beaten or threatened with death for trying to read a book, then you develop a dysfunctional relationship with education. When families are broken up by force and threat of violence, then the family structure becomes dysfunctional. When men who would naturally defend their women and families are threatened with castration and death, then this natural response also becomes dysfunctional. When looking at the oppressor is punishable by violence, then examination of him and his system becomes a difficult and taboo thing to do, despite every bone in your body demanding it. When questioning or opposing oppression is punishable by death, imprisonment, or economic assassination, then opposing systemic wrong in any or all of its meta manifestations is a terrifying concept. Anyone forced to live so incredibly diametrically opposed to that which is natural to themselves, will end up in crisis if they don’t successfully find a way to improve or transcend these circumstances! All of which require healing. It is only by the Grace of God and the resilience of the people that things haven’t been worse.

Much of my music, if not all of it, is about Love, a therapeutic resolve created in response to the lack of messages encouraging people like me toward free moral agency. Helping to ameliorate this condition has never been addressed through the political arena alone. It is a sacrificial work that doesn’t simply happen between the hours of 9 to 5 or Monday through Friday, but when inspiration leads us to avail ourselves for the Truth that needs to be said. Unlike the system too often contrarily demonstrates, we believe that people can be and should be helped, and that trauma should not be criminalised but acknowledged, healed and dealt with. This takes awareness, sensitivity and a level of freedom in my opinion the system lacks. And if we don’t know or understand how to do it, then we humbly refer to a higher authority.

We have no desire to create humanoids, turn people into machines, or dumb them down so that they remain dependent longer than necessary to an antiquated system in denial of its many inadequacies and need to evolve. Instead we seek to educate and shed light on the snares, traps, and enticements that people set up in the name of business that are intended only to catch the sleeping and/or uninformed.

Why would a system, ‘well intentioned’, wait until breakdown or incarceration to consider rehabilitation, after generations of institutionally inflicted trauma and abuse on a people? To me it is obvious that the accumulation of generational trauma and abuse have created the very behaviours the system tries to punish, by providing no sufficient outlets for the victims of institutional terror. Clearly, the institution seeks to hide its own criminal history at the expense and wholeness of the abused, who ‘acting out’ from years of abuse and mistreatment, reflect the very aggression that they were exposed to.


A day after it was reported that Lauryn was charged with three counts of misdemeanour for failure to file taxes between 2005-2007, she posted yet another statement on her page in which she (now famously) refers to “a media protected military industrial complex.” She states that artists are being prevented from “knowing their true value” due to people who “promote” “media bullying,” “sabotage,” “addiction,” and “black listing”:

For the past several years, I have remained what others would consider underground.  I did this in order to build a community of people, like-minded in their desire for freedom and the right to pursue their goals and lives without being manipulated and controlled by a media protected military industrial complex with a completely different agenda. Having put the lives and needs of other people before my own for multiple years, and having made hundreds of millions of dollars for certain institutions, under complex and sometimes severe circumstances, I began to require growth and more equitable treatment, but was met with resistance. I entered into my craft full of optimism (which I still possess), but immediately saw the suppressive force with which the system attempts to maintain it’s control over a given paradigm. I’ve seen people promote addiction, use sabotage, black listing, media bullying and any other coercion technique they could, to prevent artists from knowing their true value, or exercising their full power. These devices of control, no matter how well intentioned (or not), can have a devastating outcome on the lives of people, especially creative types who must grow and exist within a certain environment and according to a certain pace, in order to live and create optimally.
I kept my life relatively simple, even after huge successes, but it became increasingly obvious that certain indulgences and privileges were expected to come at the expense of my free soul, free mind, and therefore my health and integrity. So I left a more mainstream and public life, in order to wean both myself, and my family, away from a lifestyle that required distortion and compromise as a means for maintaining it. During this critical healing time, there were very few people accessible to me who had not already been seduced or affected by this machine, and therefore who could be trusted to not try and influence or coerce me back into a dynamic of compromise. Individual growth was expected to take place unnaturally, or stagnated outright, subject to marketing and politics. Addressing critical issues like pop culture cannibalism or its manipulation of the young at the expense of everything, was frowned upon and discouraged by limiting funding, or denying it outright. When one has a prolific creative output like I did/do, and is then forced to stop, the effects can be dangerous both emotionally and psychologically, both for the artist and those in need of that resource. It was critically important that I find a suitable pathway within which to exist, without being distorted or economically strong-armed.
During this period of crisis, much was said about me, both slanted and inaccurate, by those who had become dependent on my creative force, yet unwilling to fully acknowledge the importance of my contribution, nor compensate me equitably for it.  This was done in an effort to smear my public image, in order to directly affect my ability to earn independently of this system.  It took a long time to locate and nurture a community of people strong enough to resist the incredibly unhealthy tide, and more importantly see through it.  If I had not been able to make contact with, and establish this community, my life, safety and freedom, would have been directly affected as well as the lives, safety and freedom of my family.  Failure to create a non toxic, non exploitative environment was not an option.
As my potential to work, and therefore earn freely, was being threatened, I did whatever needed to be done in order to insulate my family from the climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism that I was surrounded by.  This was absolutely critical while trying to find and establish a new and very necessary community of healthy people, and also heal and detoxify myself and my family while raising my young children.
There were no exotic trips, no fleet of cars, just an all out war for safety, integrity, wholeness and health, without mistreatment denial, and/or exploitation.  In order to liberate myself from those who found it ok to oppose my wholeness, free speech and integral growth by inflicting different forms of punitive action against it, I used my resources to sustain our safety and survival until I was able to restore my ability to earn outside of it!
When artists experience danger and crisis under the effects of this kind of insidious manipulation, everyone easily accepts that there was something either dysfunctional or defective with the artist, rather than look at, and fully examine, the system and its means and policies of exploiting/’doing business’.  Not only is this unrealistic, it is very dark in its motivation, conveniently targeting the object of their hero worship by removing any evidence that they ‘needed’ or celebrated this very same resource just years, months or moments before.  Since those who believe they need a hero/celebrity outnumber the actual heroes/celebrities, people feel safe and comfortably justified in numbers, committing egregious crimes in the name of the greater social ego.  Ironically diminishing their own true hero-celebrity nature in the process.
It was this schism and the hypocrisy, violence and social cannibalism it enabled, that I wanted and needed to be freed from, not from art or music, but the suppression/repression and reduction of that art and music to a bottom line alone, without regard for anything else.  Over-commercialisation and its resulting restrictions and limitations can be very damaging and distorting to the inherent nature of the individual.  I Love making art, I Love making music, these are as natural and necessary for me almost as breathing or talking.  To be denied the right to pursue it according to my ability, as well as be properly acknowledged and compensated for it, in an attempt to control, is manipulation directed at my most basic rights!  These forms of expression, along with others, effectively comprise my free speech!  Defending, preserving, and protecting these rights are critically important, especially in a paradigm where veiled racism, sexism, ageism, nepotism, and deliberate economic control are still blatant realities!!!
Learning from the past, insulating friends and family from the influence of external manipulation and corruption, is far more important to me than being misunderstood for a season!  I did not deliberately abandon my fans, nor did I deliberately abandon any responsibilities, but I did however put my safety, health and freedom and the freedom, safety and health of my family first over all other material concerns!  I also embraced my right to resist a system intentionally opposing my right to whole and integral survival.
I conveyed all of this when questioned as to why I did not file taxes during this time period.  Obviously, the danger I faced was not accepted as reasonable grounds for deferring my tax payments, as authorities, who despite being told all of this, still chose to pursue action against me, as opposed to finding an alternative solution.
My intention has always been to get this situation rectified.  When I was working consistently without being affected by the interferences mentioned above, I filed and paid my taxes.  This only stopped when it was necessary to withdraw from society, in order to guarantee the safety and well-being of myself and my family.
As this, and other areas of issue are resolved and set straight, I am able to get back to doing what I should be doing, the way it should be done.  This is part of that process.  To those supporters who were told that I abandoned them, that is untrue.  I abandoned greed, corruption, and compromise, never you, and never the artistic gifts and abilities that sustained me.


Lauryn’s statement is striking – not only for it’s first-hand observations on the dark inner-workings of the music-industry that re-enforce what’s already been uncovered, discussed, and theorised in the Alternative media – but because of the reasons she gives for not paying taxes between 2005-2007. She claims she was ‘resisting’ “a system” – “a media protected military industrial complex” that existed within a climate of “manipulation,” hence her reason for initially bowing out of the glare of the mainstream back in the late ‘90s / early 2000s. At her sentencing in May this year where she was eventually slapped with a three-month prison term for failing to pay around $1 million to the IRS, she told the court, “I am a child of former slaves who had a system imposed on them. I had an economic system imposed on me. There were veiled threats, there was blacklisting. I was told, ‘that’s how it goes, it comes with the territory.’ I came to be perceived as a cash cow and not a person.” So. Why is this particularly striking? Because it brings us right back to our old friend, Brother Anthony, and clues as to his alleged hold over Hill as well as his possible identity which has remained largely under wraps. After a little bit of digging, ‘Conspiro Media’ has managed to discover that his actual name might be, Anthony McGugan, or – according to popular Italian newspaper, ’La Repubblica’ – Anthony Wayne McGugan Senior.
Now… this is where it gets interesting.
On further investigation, it transpires that an individual going by the same name was involved in a bid to excuse himself from paying taxes. Official documents from the US District Court District of New Jersey states that, “(Anthony Wayne) McGugan, on February 8th 2008, brought an action in this Court against Michael MacGillivray, Revenue Officer for the United States Internal Revenue Service (‘IRS‘), which appeared to seek (1) a declaration holding McGugan exempt from taxation by the IRS, and (2) to enjoin the IRS from seeking tax payments from McGugan.” The papers go on to document his reasons for seeking exemption, leaving little doubt in their description that McGugan was exercising his rights as a ‘freeman’:

The documents submitted by McGugan include: (1) “Legal Notice and Demand,” appearing to give notice to all public officials that, inter alia, (a) defendant is “a Private People of Posterity; a Sovereign Personam Sojourn; by fact; not a 14th amendment citizen or surety within; or subject for; or allegiance to; your corporate UNITED STATES,” (b) the “silence of Corporate Office ‘Secretary of State’ ratifies severance(s) of any nexus or relationship to de facto corporate commercial state office(s),” and (c) lists the “billing costs” to be assessed for violations of McGugan’s rights; (2) “Act of State,” purporting to be (a) a “Reaffirmation of Character,” and (b) “renounc[ing] and declar[ing] void, ab initio, any and all attempts . . . of any changes in [McGugan’s] lawful Citizenship Status to that of Corporate Statutory/ Military/ Maritime/ Admiralty/ Fictitious Democracy UNITED STATES, U.S., STATE OF NEW JERSEY, COUNTY OF OCEAN, TOWNSHIP OF BARNEGAT, “ANTHONY WAYNE MCGUGAN” AND ALL ITS VARIATIONS”; (3) “Declaration of Political Status,” appearing to make various demands to all public officials, and to declare, inter alia, (a) “Anthony Wayne: McGugan is not a United States citizen, subject, vessel or ‘person,'” (b) “Anthony Wayne: McGugan is foreign to the United States and retains official authority within His chosen jurisdiction,” and (c) “Anthony Wayne: McGugan has the absolute unalienable Divine Right to keep and bear arms of any kind for protection of Self, Family, and Neighbors, by His Own Will and this DECLARATION”; (4) a letter purporting to be from the Authentications Office of the United States Department of State, regarding service number 08037888, stating “[n]o further authentication of your document is required because the country in which you intend to use it is a party to the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents”

Is the ‘Anthony Wayne McGugan’ cited above Lauryn’s ‘Brother Anthony,’ a man who’s said to have been a powerful influence on the singer/rapper’s life for over a decade? It’s been claimed that Hill’s withdrawal from the music-industry machine, and her controversial Vatican speech were both inspired by him. If true – and taking into account the court-document above – was her decision not to pay taxes to “a system” and “society” she withdrew from, in any way motivated by McGugan’s / Brother Anthony’s own stand against the IRS and his declaration that he was (and, presumably, still believes is), “a Private People of Posterity; a Sovereign Personam Sojourn; by fact; not a 14th amendment citizen or surety within; or subject for; or allegiance to; your corporate UNITED STATES”?
That a music-artist of Lauryn Hill’s influence and stature might be attracted to, and indeed inspired by the principles of sovereign citizenship is a deliciously intriguing thought to consider. Be that as it may though, the fact is, she succumbed to the courts days before her sentencing and reportedly coughed-up approximately $900,000 to satisfy unpaid tax bills and penalties.

Lauryn's mug-shot from 2012.

Lauryn’s mug-shot from 2012.

As large as that sum might appear to the majority of us, it fell short. The singer still owed interest according to the US Attorney‘s Office. Indeed, it’s said her recent new deal with ’Sony’ – the company she’s been contracted to her entire recording career – was in order to help settle these debts. It was claimed the agreement between Hill and the music-giant would earn her $1 million for five new songs and additional money for an album’s worth of material.
Lauryn took to ‘tumblr’ once again in response to the reports:

It has been reported that I signed a new record deal, and that I did this to pay taxes. Yes, I have recently entered into an agreement with Sony Worldwide Entertainment, to launch a new label, on which my new music will be released. And yes, I am working on new music.

I’ve remained silent, after an extensive healing process. This has been a 10+ year battle, for a long time played out behind closed doors, but now in front of the public eye. This is an old conflict between art and commerce… free minds, and minds that are perhaps overly tethered to structure. This is about inequity, and the resulting disenfranchisement caused by it. I’ve been fighting for existential and economic freedom, which means the freedom to create and live without someone threatening, controlling, and/or manipulating the art and the artist, by tying the purse strings.

It took years for me to get out of the ‘parasitic’ dynamic of my youth, and into a deal that better reflects my true contribution as an artist, and (purportedly) gives me the control necessary to create a paradigm suitable for my needs. I have been working towards this for a long time, not just because of my current legal situation, but because I am an artist, I love to create, and I need the proper platform to do so.

The nature of my new business venture, as well as the dollar amount reported, was inaccurate, only a portion of the overall deal. Keep in mind, my past recordings have sold over 50,000,000 units worldwide, earning the label a tremendous amount of money (a fraction of which actually came to me).

Only a completely complicated set of traps, manipulations, and inequitable business arrangements could put someone who has accomplished the things that I have, financially in need of anything. I am one artist who finds value in openly discussing the dynamics within this industry that force artists to compromise or distort themselves and what they do, rather than allowing them to make the music that people need. There are volumes that could (and will) be said.


It’s somewhat disconcerting that Lauryn has re-established a pro-active relationship with the very music-company she was working under when she withdrew from the spotlight in disillusionment over a decade ago. Indeed, she herself expresses doubt in her ’tumblr’ statement, pointing out that her new ’Sony’ deal “purportedly” hands her “the control necessary to create a paradigm suitable for my needs.” Given the urgent nature of her recent financial troubles, is there reason to believe she was pressured into accepting an arrangement by the recording-giant against her better judgement, an arrangement that pulls her back into “the machine” where she’s required to relinquish her integrity, her art, and her character? So far, ‘Sony’ has apparently allowed Lauryn the freedom to air her powerful views. Her first release for the company under the newly signed deal was the controversial track, ‘Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix),’ which of course pulled no punches in its lyrical message. Hopefully, this is a taste of what we’ll be getting from Hill when she finally leaves jail and embarks on the next phase of her music career – but that’s assuming she comes out of prison the same person she went in as. You see, there’s been very little information available in the public domain that might shed further light on the reports of her having to undergo “counselling” for her ‘conspiracy theories.‘ The lack of any details inevitably leads to questions and speculation, especially amongst those of us with a suspicious mind. For example, why exactly did US District Judge Michael Shipp place such an order on Hill? Was he genuinely concerned for her mental health – after all, let’s not forget – both Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel have previously suggested she should seek psychiatric help?… Or, is there a darker agenda at play?… Or more to the point; What’s the precise nature of the “counselling” that she’s been instructed to undergo? Is there hypnosis involved, and if so, why and what kind? Is this less about providing therapy and more about ‘RE-education‘ – with or without the singer/rapper’s knowledge or consent? On the other hand, perhaps the whole exercise is designed at intimidating her for daring to question the “military industrial complex”? The Western-based Powers That Be (most notably in Britain and the US) have always led us to believe that such drastic measures were either consigned to history’s dustbin following the fall of the USSR and the Berlin Wall or are the preferred tactics of Communist dictatorships in China, North Korea or Cuba where people with an opposing view of the evil paradigm are victimised and made an example of. How lucky we are, we’re told in the so-called ‘West,’ to live in a society of ‘free speech’ and ‘democracy’ where no man or woman is bullied or persecuted for speaking Truth as they see it. That wouldn’t happen in the good ole U.S. of A or in dear ole Blighty, would it? Of course it would, and it does. More often than you might imagine as it goes, which is why the reports of Lauryn Hill‘s “counselling“ are of significance to us all (assuming they‘re actually true of course). This isn’t merely a regrettable episode in the sad, sorry tale of yet another put-upon singer attempting to cope with the stresses and strains of a life-style far removed from our own and who has lived in a world that that the majority of us never have or never will experience. This is much closer to home than most of us realise. Judge Shipp’s decision hasn’t set a precedent, but it does act as a warning to any one of us, no matter how rich or poor, famous or unknown who some time in future sees fit to utilise the power of social-media, as Hill did, to criticise the Powers That Be. We too could find ourselves being ‘counselled.’
Lauryn’s been in jail for three weeks now and, according to her most recent ‘tumblr’ post, is doing well. She states, “I have known since very young to look for the purpose and lesson in everything, including the trials. Although it has taken some adjustment, I cannot deny the favour I have encountered while in here, and general warm reception from a community of people who despite their circumstances, have found unique ways to make the best of them.” Here’s hoping she leaves prison in less than three-month’s time unharmed, untouched, and free of any mental / psychological manipulation. What she does thereon in is anybody’s guess but, if her words are anything to go by, then the future is potentially very bright. She has of course promised to remain as outspoken as ever, which in itself is a positive enough sign for the future, but perhaps most exciting of all, is the very real possibility her message of Truth might be utilised, not only through the power of her music, but her very own label too. Whatever happens, it’s important to remember that, it isn’t only the bars of a jail cell she must be free of in order to continue on her path of pure expression, but also the “chains” and “bondage” she sang about over a decade ago on ‘I Get Out.’ It’d be tragic to see her having to re-acquaint herself with those “boxes” that she’d fought so hard to escape from.



“I use the performance platform as an opportunity to express the energy of that moment, and the intention behind it. I’ve been a long standing rebel against the stale, over commoditisation. As artists we have opportunity to help the public evolve, raise consciousness and awareness, teach, heal, enlighten and inspire in ways the democratic process may not be able to touch. So we keep it moving.”

“I don’t have an American Dream. I have a dream, because my dream relates to the entire world, to be honest with you. That is that the entire world find – have – salvation. That the entire world have joy. That the entire world know God, and have peace, and have His rest and His happiness. For me to limit that and say that’s an American Dream, that would be far too limiting. That’s a dream for this entire world, that we really all have the presence of God in our lives, because I can’t give anyone anything more. God showed me I can sing songs about love. I can sing songs about me, and there are people that enjoy those songs. But when they’re desperately, desperately in need of help, what will my music do? How will it help them? Will it redeem them? Will it save them? Will it fight that battle for them? It’s just a song.”

“Our podium, what we have to speak from, is the music. It’s really important that we stay focused, because things become misconstrued in the media. So we have to stick firm to who we are, and stand our ground musically. We have to make sure the music and the message and the words and all the elements come through in our songs and every time we appear in public.”

“I just know now that the only way to get out is through confrontation, see? We always thought it was retreat, you know?”
From ‘MTV Unplugged’ – 2001

“Don’t let them tell you who you are. Sometimes you are ahead of the curve. They don’t know what to do with you when you are ahead of the curve.”

“Love is my food. Truth is my oxygen.”
‘Essence’ magazine interview – 2006

“The funny thing about liberation is that once you get it, anything other feels awkward.”
‘Rolling Stone’ magazine interview – 2008

“I understand now that the battlefield and that the war is so much greater than what we see before us. You know, I live in this physical body – this is like my address… This is where I live, you know, but there’s something much deeper. Who I am, you know, has nothing to do with, you know, the hair and the shoes and stuff… I find there‘s a lot of power in prayer, so I pray for the people who don‘t understand me… I pray more now to… understand than to be understood. I pray now to learn how to love than to be loved. ’Matrix’ was banging movie to me. And the reason why I appreciated it so much was because – do you remember at the end when Neo, like, realised his potential? He started to see the binary code?… The whole world? Well… that’s where I’m trying to be spiritually. I’m trying to see the word of God… so, every time that agent throws a punch, I’m like, ‘I see you’… you know, I’m just catching his punches. You know, so… I’m not afraid… ‘cos I’m starting to see that. You know… situations materialise themselves and, ’uh, he’s an agent,’ you know, but here’s the trick… is that you have to remember, as sometimes you can be an agent. You can be an agent to yourself. You can be an agent against someone else and not even realise that you’re being used, you know? That’s The Matrix.”
Speaking at ‘Academy of Achievement’ – 2000

“We look at Bob Marley and we say, ‘okay, let’s just grow locks and wear the clothes, and have the band,’ and we have no idea how many years of struggle and pain and suffering that made that content. You see what I’m saying? You can’t get it from the outside in. Truth is from the inside out.”
From ‘MTV Unplugged’ – 2001

“In the past, I have been guilty of diluting the expression that God gave me to make it palatable… How will consciousness ever be raised if we keep on diluting?”

“The whole concept of success, to me, is a little bit warped, because what are you being successful at in your house trapped? That’s not successfully living. I don’t buy into that whole concept of success that I have this mountain with this moat around it and then I get into my big car and drive to my destination and never see people. That’s not my concept of success. My concept of successful living is escaping the matrix, as we’ve talked about. It has very little to do with what people think success is. I actually feel successful right now, even though I don’t have an album out, or a video or a song on the radio, because I’m trying to be obedient to His will. I’m trying to be a loving and caring mother, a loving and caring wife-to-be, a loving and caring daughter, a loving and caring friend, a responsible person. And every day is another opportunity for me to be successful at that. The other stuff, I think it will come.”

EVERYTHING IS EVERYTHING (song from ‘Miseducation’ album)
Sometimes it seems
We’ll touch that dream
But things come slow or not at all
And the ones on top, won’t make it stop
So convinced that they might fall
Let’s love ourselves then we can’t fail
To make a better situation
Tomorrow, our seeds will grow
All we need is dedication

Let me tell ya that,
Everything is everything
Everything is everything
After winter, must come spring
Everything is everything

Everything is everything
What is meant to be, will be
After winter, must come spring
Change, it comes eventually

REFERENCE LINKS:,,561547,00.html,_Jr.,650474’_strike_of_1968,_Blackwards–87496212.html‘Il-mio-era-un-invito-al-pentimento’&prev=/search%3Fq%3DAnthony%2BWayne%2BMcGugan%2Blauryn%2Bhill%26newwindow%3D1%26safe%3Doff%26biw%3D1280%26bih%3D862


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s