Lauryn Hill has responded to claims made by pianist Robert Glasper that she “stole” the music on her multiple-Grammy-winning 1998 album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” as well as accusations that she mistreated her musicians. He based his claims on his friendship with musicians who worked on the album, as well as his own experience as a brief member of her touring band in 2008.
“I apologize for the delay in getting this posted, I was late in hearing about it. I understand this is long, but my last interview was over a decade ago,” she wrote.
Earlier this month, Glasper told Houston radio station 97.9 The Box that Hill had “stolen all of [his] friends’ music” during the making of the album. While a group of musicians who worked on “Miseducation” sued over songwriting credits, the suit was settled in 2001.
In a sprawling and at times angry 3,000-plus-word post on Medium titled “Addressing Robert Glasper and other common misconceptions about me (in no particular order), By Ms. Lauryn Hill,” the singer refuted the accusations, beginning by saying “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. 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.
“[Musicians] may be able to make suggestions, but you can’t write FOR me,” she continued. “I am the architect of my creative expression. No decisions are made without me. I hire master builders and masterful artisans and technicians who play beautifully, lend their technical expertise, and who translate the language that I provide into beautifully realized music.
“These are my songs, musicians are brought in because of the masterful way that they play their instruments. I’m definitely looking for something specific in musicians, and I absolutely do hire the best musicians I can find. Not every band had that particular ‘something’ I was looking for. That doesn’t make them bad musicians, just different than what I needed in that particular moment.”
She does allow that she may not have been experienced with some traditions of collaborative songwriting. “’The Miseducation’ was the first time I worked with musicians outside of the Fugees [whose] report and working relationship was clear. 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,” she wrote.
“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 claimed the singer was unreasonably tough on her musicians, even cutting their pay. “Every day she comes in and changes the show, changes what she wants to do,” he said. “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.’”
Hill responded, “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.”
She also levels a dig at Glasper: “I’m confused as to why such a principled musician, who thought I ‘stole’ from his friends, would show up to work for me anyway. 🤔 If that was hypocrisy or opportunism instead of genuine interest, it would further explain why an artist would feel the need to put his or her guard up.”
The post then veers off into a broader discussion of racism, sexism, and many other slights Hill perceives, ranging from a dig at the radio station that hosted the interview to accusations of racism that were leveled against the singer in the past: “And just to clear up an old urban legend that somehow people still believe, I do not hate white people. I do, however, despise a system of entitlement and oppression set up to exploit people who are different. I do loathe the promotion and preservation of said system at the expense of other people, and the racist and entitled attitudes it gives rise to.”
Read the post in full here.