The Aftermath: Hill's Retreat
Jackson: It started to get strange, Bible study went from one day a week to three days a week to five days a week to I want you to come. I went to a couple of them but I was like, I completely understand if it's your calling, but it's not mine and I can't force it. As that picked up we drifted further and further apart.
Nobles: The type of pressure, selling 18 million records worldwide, winning all these Grammys and people love you and then you wanna be outside the box, change up your hairstyle, express yourself, and people say, "No, that's not you." She ain't the type of woman that you gonna box in. She's Ms. Hill, that's who she is. And there's nothing wrong with that. She wants to be called Ms. Hill, fine. Maybe she feels that society has disrespected her, maybe she feels like you're not entitled to call me Lauryn, you don't know me and don't pretend like you know me.
Pras: It's not that Lauryn is crazy — if it's not the orthodox way then people tend to say you're crazy. People said Einstein was crazy. Lauryn had whatever she was dealing with personally, and sometimes people don't know how to give you a break because she had such an impact.
Marley: They've been hating for too long, hatin' on her for no reason. You got a guy like Wyclef talking about her on the radio. What the fuck, brethren?! Relax! That's foolishness! Big man, what you doing? Let's move on. We got children too, ya know?
Hill: I think, in our own sweet time, we're gonna get into a room and talk to each other about all of our issues and make some music. But that can't happen too prematurely or I think it would damage things. We all sincerely loved each other. And we still do. But in any relationship there's ups and downs. People grow up, they grow apart. I have a huge amount of love for them, but I needed to learn some things about myself. I've found my sound, the sound which is distinctly me. I needed to become the woman that I'm becoming, and it was necessary for me to make this record. But I think, at the same time, this record may have revealed some insecurities in other people. And I think it made it a little difficult. I don't think that everybody was necessarily that happy that I decided to do a solo project. I think that they thought the worst as opposed to the best.
But I know that (a) time reveals truth. And (b) time heals wounds. So I'm not in any rush to rip any Band-Aids off. Actually, maybe I am. Maybe I do wanna rip the Band-Aid. I think this album definitely ripped the Band-Aid off, because it helped the wound to breathe as opposed to fester. But I'd rather let the healing process take its own natural time than rush into a situation. I definitely do [miss the Fugees]. We were a crazy bunch. We used to do some wild things. Not bad wild things — we had a lot of fun. But the funny thing about liberation is that once you get it, anything other feels awkward.
Commissioner Gordon: 'Clef got a bad rap because being the ex-boyfriend, that must be who caused all the problems. But when he spoke about her saying she's disturbed, it was more from a place of helping her than trying to hurt her because it was a long time after.
Jackson: One of the last things she said to me in a real conversation was, "How do I keep it so hot and good, Jayson?" And I was like, "I don't know if you can. The only thing you can do is as you grow, just make records." And if she wants to take the rest of her days and raise her family or write poetry or whatever she chooses, God bless her. And thank you for doing it when you did.
Commissioner Gordon: Lauryn was everybody's favorite singer and you can hear it in so many singers now. She gave the world something. And if that's all there is, maybe it was enough.
Legend: Lauryn had that blend of toughness and soulfulness, melody and swagger. She did it better than anybody still has done it. People are still trying to capture that moment. Jazmine Sullivan's song that's out now ["Need U Bad"] sounds eerily similar to Lauryn.
Nobles: [J Records A&R rep] Peter Edge called asking me to work on Jazmine Sullivan's record. She's a talented girl but I made a choice that I wasn't gonna do it. I don't wanna spend my life trying to reincarnate Lauryn through somebody else. Lauryn ain't dead, Lauryn is very much alive. That woman's alive.
Randolph: I sang with her until 2006. One of my last conversations with Ms. Hill was about her feeling like there's no room for her music and people biting and stealing the formula and making it into something dishonest. And my words for her were, "You changed my life in a day. Whoever you feel out there is mimicking you, the Lauryn I know would show these ho's how it's done."
Hill: I just can't do anything if I'm not inspired. I always sorta wait for the inspiration to come, and if the spirit doesn't drive me to do it, then I won't do it. 'Cause I definitely know that what I'm doin' is sorta bigger than me. It's somethin' that I've been assigned.
Cast of Characters
Candice Anderson: Backup singer, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album and tour
Ras Baraka: New Jersey poet, politician and teacher who served as Miseducation's narrator; Baraka speaks to a group of children about love during interludes throughout the album
Che Vicous (formerly Che Guevera): Producer who worked on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
D'Angelo: Featured on Miseducation duet "Nothing Even Matters"
Lauryn Hill: Singer/rapper/songwriter/producer
Jayson Jackson: Music industry exec who met Hill when she was a high school student and served as her manager until February 2001
John Legend: Played piano on "Everything Is Everything"
Rohan Marley: The son of Bob Marley and father of Hill's five children
Pras Michel: Hill's Fugees bandmate
Vada Nobles: Producer and programmer who sued Hill for not being properly credited on Miseducation
James Poyser: Songwriter, producer and keyboardist credited as a musician on Miseducation
Lenesha Randolph: Backup singer, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album and tour
Commissioner Gordon Williams: Engineer and project supervisor, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
All new interviews were conducted for this story with the exception of Lauryn Hill, whose quotes are from her 1999 Rolling Stone cover story by Touré.
To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here
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