Lauryn Hill has responded to accusations, leveled by the pianist Robert Glasper, that she "stole" music from other musicians to make her debut album and mistreated her band afterwards. In a lengthy, bullet-pointed post on Medium, published late last night, Hill wrote that Glasper was "not completely informed" when he spoke to Houston's 97.9 radio station earlier this month for an interview that ended up going viral.
"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. "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."
Glasper's interview with 97.9's Mad Hatta Morning Show centered on his week-long stint as Hill's pianist in the mid-2000s. He said that the band that week had been assembled for an event held by the jewelry designer Montblanc, a 20-minute performance for which Hill would be paid $500,000. Hill, Glasper said, was erratic in rehearsals, changing the setlist every day, demanding that everyone call her "Miss Hill" and insisting that nobody look her directly in the eye. Hill didn't show for the last session, according to Glasper, instead sending in her manager to inform the band that their pay had been cut in half because she was "not really feeling the way you guys have been learning the music."
He also said that 1998's seminal The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was not Hill's own work. The record was, he said, "made by great musicians and producers that I know, personally. So you got a big hand off of music that you didn’t even write."
Hill seemingly refuted that accusation completely, rejected parts of Glasper's rehearsal story, and tried to justify others. "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," she wrote early on.
She added that she had "never told anyone not to look me in the eye[...] However, I would understand why an artist would say that. It’s about reaching a level of vulnerability while making or playing your art, and not wanting to worry about being examined while you’re in that process." She had, however, insisted on being called Miss HIll. It was "absolutely a requirement. I was young, Black and female. Not everyone can work for and give the appropriate respect to a person in that package and in charge. It was important, especially then, for that to be revealed early."
Read the piece in full over at Medium. It is, by Hill's own admission, not exactly linear, but it's an interesting read from an artist who hasn't done an interview of her own in a decade.
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