Tuesday, January 18, 2011

School's Out Lauryn


*Warning. This is a lengthy post. But I've highlighted the important points in red for my skimmers.*

I tried. We all tried. We waited patiently year after year for a follow up to your classic album (a term that gets thrown around too loosely these days) The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Slowly one year turned to two, then five. But we fans stayed strong. We suffered through erractic MTV Unplugged performances, your "call me Miss Hill" demands (by the way boo, Miss Ross the Boss coined that first. Respect the throne. I'm just sayin'), and ignored the constant subliminal shots of shade from Wyclef that you relied heavily on your collaborators for your solo smash. Like I said, we tried.

But after your recent string of trantrums and showing up to shows hours late, I think I feel justified in typing what many former fans are thinking: Diva, you are dismissed! For those not in the know, since embarking on a 17-city tour, L-Boogie has become notorious for coming on stage three hours late, and performing unrecognizable "remixes" of her classic hits that have left fans pissed off and bewildered. Such was the scene at a show last Friday:

"Aside from showing up three hours late to the sold-out event, which was scheduled to begin at 9PM, the 35-year-old left her supporters "confused" and "underwhelmed" by declaring that she was tired of "playing the same music night after night." The former Fugee performed remixes of some of her classics, while urging crowd participation.


"Nobody could participate because NOBODY knew the music!" a concertgoer told Sandrose.com. "Everybody was looking around like 'WHAT SONG IS THIS?'"


Fans also complained that Hill's band was too loud, thus drowning out her vocals. Fed up with her antics, some audience members reportedly booed the multiple Grammy winner before leaving the venue early. "They didn't walk out -- they stomped out!" emphasized the audience member.


Last month, Hill announced that she would launch a 17-date tour, and has been racking up mostly negative reviews ever since. The singer was blasted by several news outlets for her kick-off performance at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg, in which she showed up several hours late and made no apology for her tardiness, announcing that she was "worth the wait."


Hpmh. Worth the wait. I have a few reasons why that is SO not the case.

1) It is not 1998. While you've been off popping out babies for Bob Marley's son, the music world has changed. Unless, your name is Lady Gaga, Beyonce or Rihanna, you have be on your Ps&Qs. In other words mama, you've got to earn your spot back.

2) You have no respect for your fans (or your band for that matter). And one thing we hate even worse than waiting hours for your butt to get onstage is to be lectured to like a bunch of schoolkids once you do arrive. Unless you were currently in critical condition because of a sudden illness or accident, the fault lies with you Lauryn. And if you're going to be late, you better perform your ass off.

3) You're acting like a spoiled, pompous know-it-all who feels like we peons should feel honored to be in your presence, no matter how horrible you look or sound. You are destroying your legacy with every tour date you play.

In short Lauryn, you've become divorced from reality. But in my personal opinion, you're not alone. All celebrities are out of touch to some degree. Let's face it: anyone who is constantly having their every wish fulfilled at a snap of their fingers and being praised and fawned over by millions of people daily is bound to become at least a little disconnected. Anyone who spends their every waking day creating a hype for millions of people to believe in will inevitably believe in some of said hype themselves.
The longer someone remains famous, the less they remember what is like to be "normal" and the harder it is for them to relate to everyday life and circumstances. Let's use Lauryn for an example: The Fugees blew up with The Score in 96'. Lauryn was around 20 or 21 at the time. That means she was a "normal" person for at least two decades. In the ensuing 15 years of fame, acclaim and controversy, she has become more and more detached from both the real world and memories of her pre-fame life, and more wrapped up in her own celebrity bubble. Apply that equation to your favorite actor or singer and you can just about guess when and how far they'll fly over the cuckoo's nest.

If a star has people in their circle who are unwilling to simply be smiling synchophants the bubble can be burst, and they can return to their peak acting, singing or dancing form. If not, the inevitable crash and burn will happen in some shape or form.

We fans are not totally innocent in this scenario though. If celebs are drunk on fame, we're the bartenders who keep serving them shots. From DUIs, drug addiction and domestic violence to accusations of watersports with minors, fans are extremely forgiving. No matter how far a celebrity has fallen, redemption is just one hot track or movie role away.

Just ask Kanye: this time last year most of the mainstream had written him off as a drunk, award-show-stopping egomanical asshole. Now all you hear is praise for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and what an egomanical musical genius Yeezy is. Chris Brown's career looked utterly destroyed in the wake of Rihanna-gate, but all it took was a tearful MJ tribute and a pair of "Deuces" to resurrect it.

This selective amnesia can sometimes manifest into bizarre, digusting idol worship. In high school I remember being horrified at the depths of denial many of my classmates delved into to defend R.Kelly once the allegations (and the tape) came out. It was like we were eight and someone told them there was no Santa. They absolutely refused to believe it. Or if they did they offered this perennial piece of logic for their continued, unwavering fandom: Shit, that nigga can sing!

But oftentimes it simply comes with the territory when dealing with public figures. After all celebs are people too: and like all of us, they make mistakes, occasionally behave in immature, irrational ways and do not lead pristine, perfect lives. If they apologize (or least put on a good PR face) we'll welcome them back with open arms. As long as those arms are filled with a catchy hook or an unforgettable performance. So maybe school's not out for Ms. Hill. Maybe it's just recess. But it's up to her to decide how long she'll stay out and play.

1 comment:

Mr. Toddy English said...

The truth the whole truth and nothing but!
Lauryn is over. She has no choice but to let the album stand on its own now. She has murdered her career...No resurrection in sight unless she can get into rehab (girl act like she on SOMETHIN).

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