HOLLYWOOD — Lauryn Hill may not be winning any Grammys this year, but she is absolutely the hands-down favorite for bizarre quote of the year: “I’m crazy, blood clot!”
Hill joined her Fugee teammates Wyclef Jean and Pras on Monday night for the group’s first full-on concert in almost 10 years. The Fugees kicked off Grammy week with a free outdoor show that, owing to its location smack in the middle of the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, shut down part of Hollywood on Monday night.
And the biggest story coming out of the show is the redefinition, if you will, of Lauryn Hill. Onstage, she didn’t seem to be the post-Miseducation Lauryn we’ve come to know: the serious and detached Hill that many, from 50 Cent to barbershop observers, might have deemed a little odd.
The Hill onstage last night was definitely L. Boogie: The Lauryn who, years ago, was not only one of music’s most captivating singers but also one its most dynamic lyricists, standing right behind the likes of Jay-Z and Nas as one of the best MCs of the then-new millennium. But then she disappeared on us, popping up briefly and erratically over the last six or so years.
Thus, even though the Fugees have performed together several over the last couple of years (see “Fugees — Yes, Even Lauryn — Reunite For Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” and “Destiny’s Child Give Lap Dances, Fugees End Feud At BET Awards” ), it seemed surreal to see all three onstage. For the first time in years, it felt like there wasn’t a wall around Hill: She really seemed to be enjoying the music, being in front of the crowd and being onstage with her bandmates. L. Boogie danced, rapped and sang — and the only person saying the word “crazy” was her.
“I’m not crazy,” she insisted during a between-song break. “I’m super-smart. I can’t be bought. I can’t be bribed. I am not a machine and I give my people the truth. If that defines crazy, then I’m crazy, blood clot!”
Hill then started pointing to her heart and told the crowd that life started getting very serious for her around the time a particular song came out. The Fugees’ band then started playing the lead-off track from Miseducation, “Lost Ones,” as the crowd jumped.
“It’s funny how money change a situation,” she rapped. “Miscommunication leads to complication/ My emancipation don’t fit your equation/ I was on the humble/ You on every station.”
The show kicked off with Wyclef onstage by himself, telling the crowd that “California will never be the same.” He launched into some freestyle raps and reggae chants before being joined by Hill and Pras. The Refugees commenced with “Nappy Heads” and “How Many Mics,” before Clef announced, “The Fugees don’t do the same thing twice!” — and the band launched into a reggae groove to finish off the song.
Throughout the night, the Fugees showed just how much a DJ can add to a live band, frequently improving upon and changing up their classic material by integrating the beats from Freeway’s “Flipside,” Tony Yayo’s “So Seductive” and even a reggaetón rhythm reminiscent of Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina” (wheeled out during “Guantanamera”) at various times during their set. The energy level barely dipped all night.
“This is legendary!” Clef told the crowd. He informed everyone that he would be as tame as he could be and stay onstage — then jumped offstage and climbed onto a bodyguard’s shoulders shortly after. The two waded into the crowd as “Fu-Gee-La” began. As the enormous bodyguard began to bring Clef back to the stage, Jean yelled “Pull up!” and told the group to start the song over. Still on the bodyguard’s shoulders, he jokingly told Hill he wasn’t coming back onstage — but soon did.
“We used to be number 10,” he rapped. “Now we’re permanent one/ In the battle, lost my finger/ Mic became my arm.”
The show’s highlight came toward the end, when Hill started singing “Doo Wop (That Thing.)” The scene resembled the one from her video, with people dancing in the street as her soulfully pure voice rang into the night air. The band then eased into the beat from Amerie’s “1 Thing” before bringing it back to “Doo Wop.”
If you still can’t believe the Fugees are back together, you’d better get used to it. The group is in the studio now working on a new album slated for release later this year (see “New Fugees Song Leaks; Group Has Been Working On LP For Months” ).
The show’s over, but there’s still plenty of Grammy goodness right here on MTVNews.com. Check out photos of the hottest green-carpet and onstage moments, find out what went down at the celeb-packed parties, and share your thoughts on the performers, winners and losers.