This is one of those performances that leaves me utterly speechless. But, really, what can I say? Lauryn Hill was completely barenaked in this piece, exposed and open for the world to see. She wasn’t the pop star or R&B starlet that sold over a million copies of her debut. She was simply Lauryn, a woman with a guitar and a voice, creaking and rocking with heartache and honesty.
The performance was so powerful, her emotion so raw, it prompted Kanye West to actually sample a never before released song, “The Mystery of Iniquity.” With words as mighty as weapons, Lauryn Hill went on an emotional tirade and released her soul on to the audience, providing them an experience I’m sure they’d never had before… and probably not ever since. Truly, this is one of the most incredible performances it’s ever been my pleasure to witness.
No one can deny the influence Ms. Lauryn Hill has had on the music world. Her debut solo effort, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was more than just a brilliant introduction to the woman’s depth. It was a sparkling moment in time when music held an earnest sincerity. However, even then Ms. Hill had a spirit that seemed to fly higher than most.
First single “Doo Wop (That Thing)” is probably one of the most enchanting pieces of music to come out of the 90s, the album itself surpassing even the first and only from her iconic group the Fugees. The video therein is even more fantastic, the audience able to compare and contrast differing styles of musical excellence in order to take in one profound lesson: be very careful with your heart and your body. The vulnerability and honesty in the lyrics are illustrated with simple profundity in the split-screen MV. Another facet of the video that most don’t notice or care to comment on is the fact that Hill was six months pregnant while shooting this video — more just a coincidence of timing, but the poignancy of the lyrics and her state at the time shouldn’t be swept aside.
No matter what the circumstances surrounding the video, it is a brilliantly artistic piece that stands as one of the most interesting to come at the tail end of the 90s.
What does one say about Lauryn Hill without becoming redundant? Indeed, the list of superlatives to describe this woman range from simple respect to exorbitant idol worship. It’s not hard to understand why. But I believe the highest show of respect is when words fail to readily come to mind.
That’s how I feel about “Ex-Factor”, an ode to the loss and painful recovery of one falling out of love with the addiction that took her autonomy over her feelings and stripped it away as if it were papier-mâché. There’s nothing left to say. Just listen and feel.