Tag Archives: Lauryn Hill

The Rise Of Beyoncé, The Fall Of Lauryn Hill: A Tale Of Two Icons

By Guest Contributor Janell Hobson; originally published at The Feminist Wire

Lauryn HillFifteen years ago, the stardom of then-23-year-old Lauryn Hill had peaked when she released what would become her defining musical legacy.  After rising to popularity as part of the hip-hop trio The Fugees, with fellow members Wyclef Jean and Pras, she later released her solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which went on to garner multiplatinum sales and five Grammy Awards for the recognizably brilliant singer-rapper.  Such accomplishments made her the first female artist to be nominated for and to win the most Grammys in a single night and her album the first hip-hop-themed work to win the Grammy’s top prize of Album of the Year.

Interestingly, the same year of Lauryn’s solo album debut, a 16-year-old who would later be known only by her first name – Beyoncé – also emerged on the pop scene when Destiny’s Child released their self-titled debut album.  And in a curious one-degree-of-separation of the two icons, Destiny’s Child’s collaboration with Wyclef on their song “No No No” led to the group’s first successfully released single, which topped R&B charts.

In retrospect, it seems easy to trace what would become a commingled narrative: one star rises while another one declines.  One star (Ms. Hill) presumably declined a starring role in the Hollywood faux-feminist blockbuster, Charlie’s Angels, while the other star (Beyoncé), along with fellow group members, provided the necessary “girl power” anthem – “Independent Women, Part I” – for the movie’s soundtrack.  One star virtually disappeared from the mainstream media while the other star appeared ubiquitously, covering every magazine from Sports Illustratedto Vogue to GQ to the feminist publication Ms.

One star proved a lyrical genius – rapping and crooning on politics, love, religion, and the resistance of corporate media – while the other preferred more superficial fanfare concerning clubbing, looking fabulous, and having her own money to spend as she fends off heartaches and trifling lovers, while occasionally championing women’s empowerment.  One star refused the pop-culture make-over, preferring instead to rock her natural hair and bask in her dark-skinned beauty, while the other has made a signature look out of blond weaves and other variations on white beauty standards that her light-skinned beauty can more easily appropriate.

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The Friday MixTape–6.8.12 Edition

We start this week’s mix with Lauryn Hill, who had, to say the least, an up-and-down week: on Sunday she made a surprise appearance at Hot 97′s Summer Jam and it looked like Hill was poised to embark on the full-on comeback fans have been waiting for for years.

Then, on Thursday Hill was charged with failing to file three years’ worth of federal income taxes, sending her to a prospective court date later this month. According to Reuters, Hill could face a year in jail if convicted. Here she is in happier times with “Everything Is Everything.”

Next up is a group whose summer is starting on the right foot: not only has Canada’s A Tribe Called Red has scored an opening slot for Major Lazer in Montreal on June 29, but one of the group’s members, DJ Shub, just won the country’s Red Bull Thre3style DJ competition, meaning he’ll represent Canada in a worldwide battle in Chicago this coming September. Get a taste of their style here with “Redskin Girl,” then check out their album Electric Pow-Wow here:

Next up is a young man who’s started drawing attention to himself–the kind that leads to the label “Mexico’s Johnny Cash.” Mexicali-born Juan Cirerol has taken a talent for punky riffs and welded it to what’s become his genre of choice, norteño music. But, even while his style has changed, his approach hasn’t.

“I like to think and do things in a DIY way. That’s how I consider myself punk,” he told San Diego CityBeat. “I haven’t left my ideologies that can be considered dominated by punk. I just decided to do it the way it’s done in my country.”

A good example is this track, “El Corrido De Roberto.”

Here’s a staggering factoid: Japan’s POLYSICS have been around for 15 years(!) and they’re celebrating the occasion with a new album, 15th P, which features not only a cover of “Mecha Mania Boy” by one of their bigger influences, Devo, with vocals from Devo’s own Mark Mothersbaugh. And, if you’re up for a little bopping around your house or desk today, here’s another track off the album, “Electric Surfin’ Go Go.”

Our last video is under the cut, seeing as how it’s mildly NSFW, both for language and (ahem) aesthetic reasons. But, since we haven’t checked in on John Cho in awhile, enjoy this deleted scene from Harold & Kumar Go To Amsterdam–it’s actually an alternate opening for the film–that Racebending turned us on to.
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Culturelicious Open Thread: Lauryn Hill and Fan Expectations In A Down Economy

We do the best we can with what we have. All those who aren’t happy, you’re always to go back and ask for a refund … I apologize for being late, but there’s a lot that goes on to get this out to you.
- Lauryn Hill, Dec. 28 performance in Brooklyn

By Arturo R. García

While not being race-centric per se, I did want to hear from the Lauryn Hill fans among us – especially if you went to the Dec. 28 show that started more than three hours late.

After some fans booed Hill when she finally took the stage – On The Red Carpet has video here – she said, “I spent my entire 20s sacrificing my life to give you love. So when I hear people complain, I don’t know what to tell you.”

But the question that’s been sticking in my mind since reading about that show is this: given that people went to see her in the wake of the snowstorm that hit New York over Christmas weekend, and the economy being what it is, when does fan expectation become entitlement? And when does showmanship cross over into self-indulgence?

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My Mic Sounds Nice, Check One, Think Two

by Latoya Peterson

“Male rappers have such an amazing amount of power and influence. If they spend their time dissing African American women, then what’s expected of the people that are buying their records; its not much to be said for them to want to spend money to hear an African American woman speak her mind.”  — MC Lyte

Reader Tatisha sent in a request for us to cover BET’s My Mic Sounds Nice, saying “If that network could revamp it’s current negative image with one show, that was it.”

And was she ever correct. Over the long weekend, I caught up with my backlogged programming and found that in just one hour, the documentary managed to outshine all of the panels and conversations on hip hop and present a truly engaging conversation about the role of women and the evolution of hip-hop culture.

Ava DuVernay’s amazingly smart documentary relies on first hand testimony from those in the industry to provide the narrative, cutting between interviews with people like Eve, Trina, Joan Morgan, Chuck D, Roxane Shante, MC Lyte, Missy Elliot, Salt N Pepa, Rah Digga, Jermaine Dupri, Swizz Beatz, and Smokey Fontaine.

“Females don’t get as much exposure as men in hip-hop.” Eve provides a strong start, as the documentary begins to frame some of the challenges for women in the hip hop space. Continue reading

Quoted: Menda Francois on Nicki Minaj and Feminist Contradictions in Hardcore Female Rap

Nicki Minaj w Champange Bottle

As much potential as there is for female empowerment in hardcore rap through women rappers’ embrace of the erotic, given the restrictive conventions of the genre, which force female artists to straddle identities of heterosexist sexiness and simultaneous masculinity, its full potential is rarely ever realized. In Minaj’s embrace of Lil Kim’s pussy power politics, she is also inevitably embracing, regardless of her actual intent and/or acceptance of rejection of the label, a controversial and rather contradictory ideology of feminism. [...]

Implicit in Minaj’s Signification onto the male narrative is a strategic process of identity construction, relying primarily on the male narrative and male voice to help shape the hardcore female rapper’s public image. Essentially, by engaging in dialogue with the male narrative, Minaj is aligning herself with male rappers and creating her identity as one of (pseudo)masculinity, an asset valuable to her role as a hardcore female rapper. It is within this genre that femcees operate as performers of gender and are most harshly judged by an injurious rubric of masculinity. These women are forced to negotiate “androgynous” identities as visually feminine, yet rhetorically masculine artists. [...]
In hardcore female rap, femcees are constant performers of masculinity who, between their Signifyin(g) on male [sexual] discourse and (re) appropriating sexist and misogynistic language, negotiate a treacherous space where a thin line exists between the subversion of male dominance via gender performance and affirmation of its patriarchal norms. [...]

If Minaj were genuinely interested in ascribing true power to her role as a woman and rejecting female rappers’ traditional dependence on the male voice for expression and validation, she would have drawn parallels between herself and powerful public female figures to construct her version of the new-age around the way girl. Continue reading