I never thought I’d say this, but, Thank You IRS.
While Lauryn Hill has downplayed the role her recent tax debt has in her grudged decision to release new music, her fans couldn’t be happier to welcome her return. The angst behind her new song, “Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix),” is its much-needed fuel.
In a letter posted on her MsLaurynHill Tumblr page over the weekend, the former Fugees front woman cited today’s unchecked unhealthy paradigms – in addition to last week’s tragic loss of her former label mate, Kris Kross member Chris Kelly – as the motivation for her fury.
Over a rumbling, easy-to-bob-to baseline with mystical, out-of-space sound effects, Ms. Hill opens a can of whoop ass on those who dismissed her as crazy over the years.
The “Killing Me Softly” singer criticizes the music business, the media, and the unassuming, naïve, public.
She gets right to the point, opening the song with “We’re living in a joke time, metaphorical coke time,” then proceeds to support her thesis.
Lauryn has so much trouble on her mind that her machine gun, rapid-fire flow, reminiscent of Chuck D at times, is necessary to cram all her arguments into the 4-miute song. It’s impossible to digest it all without multiple listens.
She believes the masses are being manipulated, rhyming, “Preying on human ignorance, popular immorality,” and “People stuck in dichotomies, pseudo sicko anxieties.”
Lauryn describes the perpetrators as “hypocrites on salary.” She adds that they employ “oppression, deceit, abuse and repeat” and “don’t feel complete unless they’re robbing the sheep.”
Lauryn scoffs at critics: “Opinions are like a—holes and most of them stink.”
On the song’s last line, she adds one word to the title that seems to hammer down the gavel, putting everything in context, and attributes the crux of the problem to the “Neurotic GODLESS Society.”
There’s no singing on this track. This is the post-Fugees, L-Boogie trajectory I was looking for when she offered us 1998's brilliant R&B album, “The Miseducation of Lauyrn Hill.” But, it was worth the 15-year wait.
Considering the current state of hip-hop – Lil Wayne disrespecting the legacy of Emmett Till, Rick Ross’ half-hearted apology about rapping about date rape – Lauryn’s return is right on time and appreciated.
To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here
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