Lauryn Hill is defending herself against claims that she “stole” music on her acclaimed album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and was difficult for band members to work with.
“I’ve remained patient and quiet for a very long time, allowing people to talk, speculate, and project, while keeping my nose to the grindstone fighting for freedoms many folks aren’t even aware matter,” Hill, 43, wrote in a lengthy essay for Medium on Monday.
“The arrogance of presumption that allows someone to think that they could have all the facts about another person’s life and experience, is truly and remarkably… presumptuous,” she added.
The essay comes after jazz musician Robert Glasper told a Houston radio station that Hill had “stolen all of [his] friends’ music” during the making of 1998’s Miseducation. (In 2001, Hill settled a lawsuit for an undisclosed amount of money with four musicians who worked on the album and claimed they were denied partial writing credits).
“The Miseducation was the first time I worked with musicians outside of the Fugees [whose] report and working relationship was clear,” Hill wrote in her response. “In an effort to create the same level of comfort, I may not have established the necessary boundaries and may have been more inviting than I should have been.
“In hindsight, I would have handled it differently for the removal of any confusion. And I have handled it differently since, I’m clear and I make clear before someone walks in the door what I am and am not looking for. I may have been inclusive, but these are my songs.”
Glasper, who had a brief stint with Hill’s band in 2008, also accused the singer of cutting musician’s pay and being generally difficult on tour. “Every day she comes in and changes the show, changes what she wants to do,” Glasper claimed. “The last rehearsal, she doesn’t show up. Her manager comes in and says, ‘Lauryn’s not really feeling the way you guys have been learning the music, so we’re gonna cut your pay in half.’”
In her response, which was written as a series of bullet points, Hill wrote, “Don’t have the details or recollection of cutting the band’s pay in half. If fees had been negotiated and confirmed without my knowledge, I may have asked for them to be adjusted. But I would never just cut a musician’s pay arbitrarily unless I had a legitimate reason. There are artists who do cut pay though, James Brown was notorious for docking musicians if they did something he didn’t like, I’m sure there are others.”
Glasper even listed greats like Stevie Wonder, Herbie Handcock, and Quincy Jones as examples of artists who found Hill difficult to work with. “If those three people can be cool, Lauryn Hill should be able to be cool,” he said, referring to the musicians. “You haven’t done enough to be the way you are. You just have not. The one thing you did that was great [Miseducation], you didn’t do.”
Hill responded directly to the attack, writing, “I adore Stevie, and honor Herbie and Quincy, who are our forebears, but they’re not women. Men often can say ‘I want it done like this’ and not be challenged. The same rules don’t always apply for women who may be met with resistance. When this happens you replace that player with someone who respects you and the office you hold.”
While Hill acknowledged that the album “wouldn’t have existed the way that it did without the involvement, skill, hard work, and talents of the artists/musicians and technicians who were a part of it,” she added that it “still required my vision, my passion, my faith, my will, my soul, my heart, and my story.”