Jean Sheds New Light On ‘The Score’
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
In the case of 13-year-old Zion, son of Lauryn Hill whose paternity has been publically questioned since his birth—Wyclef Jean: you are NOT the father.
Yes, it’s in turn both funny and desperately disappointing that Hill’s spotlight since the ’90s has become muddied with personal problems, ranging from financial issues (the odds are that she’s going to jail in November) to mental health concerns. The singer, once one of the country’s most promising voices, has now been reduced to a joke.
I began by talking about Zion because of allegations flung Hill’s way by Jean in his new book—released yesterday—titled Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story. In it, the wild-voiced former Fugees member claims, “I was married and Lauryn and I were having an affair, but she led me to believe that the baby was mine, and I couldn’t forgive that.”
Affairs of the heart have led to some of the most tumultuous relationships in music history, but almost equally as often, passionate musicians who find themselves embroiled in affairs with each other churn out incredibly deep and introspective albums. There’s something to be said about lust as a musical motivator.
Over the summer, my mom—to whom I credit my musical obsession through and through—pulled up a YouTube video of Fleetwood Mac performing on some late-night talk show in the months following the release of its most fiery record, Rumours. She told me to direct all of my attention to Stevie Nicks’ eyes as the band performed its plucky hit “Go Your Own Way.”
I have never seen anyone’s eyes more full of hatred in my entire life, and I once saw someone pull out a gun on the second floor of a New York City McDonald’s. Nicks’ eyes burn with unrivalled intensity as she glares throughout the entire song—and I kid you not, not once does she break eye contact for over three painfully uncomfortable minutes—at Mick Fleetwood, her former lover, whose public break-up inspired many of the songs on the exemplary album.
One gets the feeling that Rumours is the kind of album Taylor Swift is jonesing to make, a disc filled to the brim with “f— you” anthems. It exudes disdain from every fiber of its being, but brilliantly captures the intensity of a fizzled flame. If Fleetwood had tried to include a track on the album called “Dear Stevie,” I think he would’ve been critically maligned and completely ridiculed by his peers.
I think the most comparable modern-day counterpoint to Rumours is, especially in the light of Jean’s new remarks on his affair with Hill, The Fugees’ 1996 classic The Score.
“There was love in that music, too, the love between Lauryn and me,” Jean comments in the memoir. “We had become a real couple, even though I was with someone else at the time. It didn’t matter; she and I had our own musical and romantic language. That’s why [The Score] touched people; that’s why it’s so real.”
I can’t help but think that poor Pras—the often-unheralded third member of The Fugees—must’ve been so frazzled by the subsequent fallout after his band mates’ relationship collapsed. Nevertheless, the trio delivered one of the greatest albums of the decade, complete with hits like “How Many Mics,” “Ready or Not,” “Fu-Gee-La,” and probably most popularly, “Killing Me Softly.”
It’s an iconic group album that was fueled entirely by the passion of two of the most original voices in hip-hop at the time, and I think there’s something to be said about the fact that Jean’s revelations about The Score have surfaced on the same day as Kanye West’s new G.O.O.D. music release Cruel Summer.
Many critics find an inherent fault in Summer in that it seems to lack any sort of heart. Technically it’s a masterpiece, with warped beats and production up to par with the best rap albums of our days, but it’s difficult to find any relevant, relatable emotion in any of the songs. The Score has always been a sort of spiritually inspiring album for legions of fans, heralding the future of the medium as well as the deliverance of Lauryn Hill unto the people. All Summer has to offer is some quirky 2 Chainz raps and a surprisingly strong Big Sean showing.
It’s a shame, then, that The Fugees crumpled into nothingness following The Score’s release. Hill has recently seemed to get her act back together. In the face of a Cruel reign, let’s say our prayers for a Fugees family reunion.