Lauryn Hill is defending her art after musician Robert Glasper claimed that she stole the music for her critically-acclaimed debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
On Monday (Aug. 27), the typically private Ms. Hill published a lengthy rebuttal to Glasper’s allegations, along with addressing other rumors that seem to have been weighing heavily on her mind. “I’ve remained patient and quiet for a very long time, allowing people to talk, speculate, and project, while keeping my nose to the grindstone fighting for freedoms many folks aren’t even aware matter,” Hill wrote in an essay published on Medium.
“The arrogance of presumption that allows someone to think that they could have all the facts about another person’s life and experience, is truly and remarkably… presumptuous.
“People can sometimes confuse kindness for weakness, and silence for weakness as well,” she continues. “When this happens, I have to speak up. 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.”
Earlier in the month, Glasper told a Houston radio station that Hill stole music from his “friends,” mistreated him and other band members, and refused to be addressed by anything other than “Ms. Hill.” For the record, this isn’t the first time that Hill has dealt with rumors about her music. Shortly after The Miseducation was released in 1998, a collective of musicians known as New Ark sued Hill and her record label for writing and production credits on 13 of the album’s 14 tracks. At the time Hill — then 23 years old — said that she felt “betrayed” by the lawsuit. The case was settled for an undisclosed amount in 2001, but as Hill made clear in her latest recusal, there is only one architect of her “creative expression.”
“You may be able to make suggestions, but you can’t write FOR me. I am the architect of my creative expression,” she proclaims in the essay. “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.”
Hill also explains that The Miseducation was her first time woking with “musicians outside of the Fugees and admits that she may not have “established necessary boundaries,” and may have been “mored inviting” that she should have been. To that end, Hill denies constantly firing band members and cutting their pay without “a legitimate reason.” Speaking directly to Glasper’s recollection of a hellish weeklong rehearsal, Hill likened the period to “readying myself for the battle I knew I was entering into for simply not allowing a system to pimp me. If I was on edge, I had good reason to be.”
“Perhaps my seriousness and militancy in the face of tremendous resistance was misinterpreted as meanness, or that I was unloving or uncaring, when my true intent was to protect,” Hill adds. “I wouldn’t be the first Black person accused of this. I don’t think of Harriet Tubman’s skills as those of a hostess, but rather her relentless dedication to helping people who wanted out of an oppressive paradigm. #IGETOUT.”
The mother of six also squashed what an “urban legend” about her disdain for white people. Hill said that she doesn’t “hate” white people, but she does despise “a system of entitlement and oppression” designed to “exploit” marginalized groups. “The lengthy history of unfairness and brutality towards people of color, especially Black people, has not been fully acknowledged or corrected.”
Hill’s essay may be framed around Glasper, but she goes even deeper in taking on personal issues like the praise that her debut LP receives. “The Miseducation was my only solo studio album, but it certainly wasn’t the only good thing I did.”
Click here to read the full essay.