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Lauryn Hill is a living legend, so when Robert Glasper alleged she stole most of the music on her critically acclaimed album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, fans needed answers. In an interview with a Houston radio station last month, the jazz musician claimed Hill took friends’ music while creating her most famous project.
You’ll recall the musicians who contributed eventually sued Hill for writing credit and the case was settled in 2001—but clearly some folks don’t feel justice was served. Glasper, a member of Hills’ band back in 2008, also accused the icon of not showing up to rehearsals and cutting the band’s pay in half if she didn’t “feel the way” they’d been learning the music. Glasper pointed to artists such as Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, and Herbie Hancock as a basis for how Hill should behave, telling the radio station “If those three people can be cool, Lauryn Hill should be able to be cool. You haven’t done enough to be the way you are. You just have not.”
Now, Ms. Lauryn Hill has officially responded. “I apologize for the delay in getting this posted, I was late in hearing about it. I understand this is long, but my last interview was over a decade ago,” she begins in the letter posted to Medium.com. As for whether or not her music is stolen, she writes:
“You may be able to make suggestions, but you can’t write FOR me. I am the architect of my creative expression. No decisions are made without me. I hire master builders and masterful artisans and technicians who play beautifully, lend their technical expertise, and who translate the language that I provide into beautifully realized music. These are my songs, musicians are brought in because of the masterful way that they play their instruments. I’m definitely looking for something specific in musicians, and I absolutely do hire the best musicians I can find. Not every band had that particular ‘something’ I was looking for. That doesn’t make them bad musicians, just different than what I needed in that particular moment. The Miseducation was the first time I worked with musicians outside of the Fugees who’s report and working relationship was clear. In an effort to create the same level of comfort, I may not have established the necessary boundaries and may have been more inviting than I should have been. In hindsight, I would have handled it differently for the removal of any confusion. And I have handled it differently since, I’m clear and I make clear before someone walks in the door what I am and am not looking for. I may have been inclusive, but these are my songs.”
In regard to being compared to Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, and Herbie Hancock, Lauryn wrote “I adore Stevie, and honor Herbie and Quincy, who are our forebears, but they’re not women. Men often can say ‘I want it done like this’ and not be challenged. The same rules don’t always apply for women who may be met with resistance. When this happens you replace that player with someone who respects you and the office you hold.”
Read Hill’s response in full here.
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