Dreams Of An L-Boogie Revival

It's amazing that people are still waiting on Lauryn Hill's return. Of course it's gone awry. Again:


The show reviews from the West Coast gigs had already reported that she was speeding up the tempos on all her old cuts. This is, it turns out, not a good thing! While the manic energy Hill and her band was pouring out was appreciated, it meant most of the set list was more or less incomprehensible. (As in: we wish we could complain about Hill skipping her biggest solo hit in "Doo Wop (That Thing)," but we're not actually sure that she did not, in fact, play "Doo Wop (That Thing)"). No complaints about her rapping, but where was the singing? Either unable or unwilling to reprise her past vocal showcases, the choppy live renditions mostly had Lauryn chanting her way through choruses and letting the back-up singers do the rest. 

 The admirably game crowd mostly went with it, and was eventually treated to an amusing, set-ending cavalcade-of-stars from the backstage area, all presumably as curious as any other rap fan to see Lauryn Hill in the flesh. Dragged out, in quick succession, to do nothing more than wave: John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, and, of course, Chris Rock. (Also spotted backstage: Ed Westwick, Jessica Szhor, Bokeeem Woodbine, and Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah. God bless you, Rock the Bells.)

More interesting than the possibility of Hill's return, is the reasons why people are still pining for one. It's been a decade. Art is something people do. It's very hard for me to believe that she still has the chops, or has done the work to get her chops back.
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

The Blacksmith: A Short Film About Art Forged From Metal

"I'm exploiting the maximum of what you can ask a piece of metal to do."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In