Lauryn Hill has shut down the accusation that she “stole” the music on her multiple-Grammy-winning 1998 album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” as well as accusations that she mistreated her musicians.
The claims were made by pianist Robert Glasper who based his claims on his friendship with musicians who worked on the album, as well as his own experience as a member of her touring band in 2008.
Glasper told Houston radio station 97.9 The Box that Hill had “stolen all of [his] friends’ music” during the making of the album. “Every day she comes in and changes the show, changes what she wants to do,” he continued. “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.’”
It is also worthy to note that a group of musicians who worked on “Miseducation” sued over songwriting credits, and that suit was settled in 2001.
“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,” said Hill in her 3,000-word post on Medium titled “Addressing Robert Glasper and other common misconceptions about me (in no particular order), By Ms. Lauryn Hill.”
Hill began by saying:
“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. 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.
[Musicians] 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.”
She continued, noting that she did collaborate with other artists. “’The Miseducation’ was the first time I worked with musicians outside of the Fugees [whose] 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,” she wrote, adding, “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.”
Addressing claims that she was unreasonably tough on her musicians and even cutting their pay, Hill said: “Don’t have the details or recollection of cutting the band’s pay in half. If fees had been negotiated and confirmed without my knowledge, I may have asked for them to be adjusted. But I would never just cut a musician’s pay arbitrarily unless I had a legitimate reason.”
She also took a dig at Glasper, saying: “I’m confused as to why such a principled musician, who thought I ‘stole’ from his friends, would show up to work for me anyway. 🤔 If that was hypocrisy or opportunism instead of genuine interest, it would further explain why an artist would feel the need to put his or her guard up.”
She further addresses broader issues of racism, sexism, and many other slights she had endured, and also took a dig at the radio station that hosted Glasper’s interview.
“And just to clear up an old urban legend that somehow people still believe, I do not hate white people. I do, however, despise a system of entitlement and oppression set up to exploit people who are different. I do loathe the promotion and preservation of said system at the expense of other people, and the racist and entitled attitudes it gives rise to,” she wrote.