Lauryn Hill confronts claims of ‘stealing music’

Lauryn Hill is known for many things but the most well known of those things is perhaps her role as feisty Rita Watson in Sister Act 2 and the hullabaloo caused over her so called “racist” letter a day before she was due to serve a three month prison sentence for tax evasion.

Yet again Lauryn has hit the headlines. She was accused of stealing music used by Robert Glaspers for her debut album and for cutting the pay of band members. He said she took credit for making the classic album using songs written by other people.

In response she posted on her website Medium answering all the backlash in one long letter.  She starts by addressing the rumours with an introduction and title which explains the content of her letter: “Addressing Robert Glasper and other common misconceptions about me (in no particular order)”. Lauryn starts off with a bullet point paragraph backing herself up against every allegation thrown at her which takes effect throughout the whole letter. Some of the most interesting points are mentioned at the beginning:

“-It’s not completely informed, but he’s entitled to his perception. Context certainly helps though.

-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.”

The letter is definitely worth a read which you can find in full on Medium. Robert answered her post on saying: “Every day she comes in and changes the show, changes what she wants to do. Completely. The last rehearsal, she doesn’t show up. Her manager comes in and says, ‘Lauryn’s not really feeling the way you guys have been learning the music, so we’re gonna cut your pay in half.’ The last rehearsal. The day before the show. ‘We’re gonna cut your pay in half.’ First of all, we weren’t getting paid that much anyway, but understand she’s getting half-a-million dollars. So, seriously? You’re gonna take these five musicians and cut their pay in half?”

Whose side you are on depends on how you see the story and you’d need to see both sides of the story to decipher this one.

As a freelance journalist, I love having the freedom to go out and find new talent to write about. Music has always been a huge part of my life (along with food) and it's always exciting finding new artists to listen to.

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