After almost a year in the vault, new Lauryn Hill music is finally surfacing. A double Unplugged album will hit stores sometime this spring — her first LP since 1998’s Grammy-winning The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
MTV2 will air the “Unplugged” special Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET. Taped last summer, the show features Hill singing 12 new songs she wrote and arranged. She didn’t need any band to back her — she simply used an acoustic guitar, which she taught herself to play.
“When I was still with the Fugees I would pick up the guitar and I used to always say, ‘Wyclef, just get out there and do that thing with the guitar,’ ” she explained shortly after the show. “He chose what path he chose, but interestingly enough, when God shows you a thing, we always encourage others to do what we were meant to do. But over a period of time [God] caused me to take it more seriously. He said, ‘This is your accompaniment. Don’t think it’s going to be what you thought it was.’ It’s just by way of passion. How do we learn anything?
“I don’t know if I taught myself,” she continued. “I just evolved by way of necessity, by way of grace. [My skills] just grew, and grew and grew.”
Among the songs Hill performs is “I Find It Hard to Say (Rebel),” which she wrote after hearing that New York City police officers shot and killed unarmed citizen Amadou Diallo.
“It was initially written about Diallo, and that’s when I realized I was very confused,” she said of the song’s origins. “There was a part when I was singing ‘rebel,’ and this part of me is afraid — this one voice was saying, ‘You can’t say that,’ and I was like, ‘Wait a minute, it’s in me to say [it].’ But I think it’s because I didn’t understand the difference between rebellion against God and rebellion against the system that’s not God. I think that I didn’t understand I was meant to be a rebel, I’m a rebel in a sense that nobody’s going to force me to do something against my will.
“‘What do I owe anybody that I should submit my will to them?’ she continued. “I mean, I’m not a fool. God teaches me about reality, so when he tells me to do something, I do something. But it’s not because somebody told me to, it’s because I’m led to.”
A spokesperson for Columbia Records said they have no word on when to expect an in-studio album from L Boogie. However, DJ Kay Slay has an unreleased track from the singer/MC called “Little Boy” on his Streetsweepers Present Allstar Weekend Hip-Hop & R&B mixtape. On the cut, Hill sings emotionally, questioning what becomes of little boys who grow up and find their dreams won’t be fulfilled.
Lauryn Hill’s Unplugged track list:
- “Mr. Intentional”
- “Adam Lives in Theory”
- “Oh Jerusalem”
- “War in the Mind”
- “I Find It Hard to Say (Rebel)”
- “I Just Want You Around”
- “Peace of Mind”
- “The Mystery of Iniquity”
- “I Get Out”
- “I Remember”
- “So Much Things to Say”
- “The Conquering Lion”
For a full-length feature interview with Lauryn Hill, check out “Lauryn Hill: Redemption Song.”