If you expected to sing along to your favorite Fugee tracks or The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
songs, you may have been a little disappointed with some of Ms. Lauryn Hill's Tuesday show at the Aztec Theatre. Ms. Hill, formerly known simply as Lauryn Hill, took to the stage with a 10-piece band and seemingly frantic disposition. The now free-jazz-world-music-hyper tempo manifestations of her song catalog were received with mixed reviews judging by the confused and curious faces in the audience. I caught myself trying to rap along to her opening song “Lost Ones” which happens to be the opening track on her only full-length album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
. I actually didn’t even recognize the tune 'til the second verse when I caught a lyric through the roughly mixed vocals, and attempted (unsuccessfully) to rap along to the verse.
Throughout the entire performance Hill directed her drummer, her keyboardists, her guitarist, her backup singers, signaled to the sound people to turn her monitors up, told the lighting people to adjust something and thanked the audience for our patience (Hill was an hour late to her stage time). The whole situation was kind of exhausting. Though I was ridiculously stoked and slightly overwhelmed to be at the show, I kept expecting one of her band members to throw an instrument to the ground and walk out.
“She looks upset!” I shouted to a friend as we danced through a super fast paced “Everything is Everything." At one point, I wondered if her acting real bossy was just part of the show or if everything was just not going right last night.
Even though most of the songs hardly sounded like the originals, the saving grace of the night was that Hill took us through a full spectrum of her music. From early Fugee tracks to Miseducation
to “MTV Unplugged” and even a few covers of Bob Marley and Sade.
There were moments through “Ready or Not” that I actually got a little choked up thinking about how I’ve been a fan of this woman since the mid 1990s. I remember hearing “If I Ruled the World” by Nas and becoming instantly in love with her voice. I thought about all the memories, almost 20 years worth of listening to this artist, singing covers of her songs during my own performances, and dreaming one day I’d finally be able to see her live.
Though the music sounds different, her energy was there. Her spirit was there. I finally saw one of the greats; one of the most influential artists in hip-hop, R&B, and my own music. I finally saw the amazing Lauryn Hill.