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Lauryn Hill Interview | Interview (FULL)


I think everything-everything happens in
time you know there’s a time for everything there’s a time to be in a
group and there’s a time to be solo at least it was for me if I had had it my
way I would have been in the group forever you know I enjoyed the group
atmosphere I thought you know so good to have two guys on stage backing you up
but um the interesting thing about entertainment is that when you’re
struggling everybody goes in with the same goals you know with somewhere along
the success area you start to look at everyone around you and go wait a minute
where are you going. where you headed because I’m going this
way what happened I thought we were all on there you know and sometimes success
can do that sometimes it really illuminates you know creative
differences spiritual differences you know emotional
differences and I you know just like a young person would think that you know
the friends at you my fifth-grade friends are gonna be my friends forever
you know throughout high school throughout and it’s not that they cease
being your friends but sometimes you just mature to a place and some people
get there fast and some people don’t you know and and you know hope hopefully
ultimately everyone catches up but um you know I it’s really interesting
because I didn’t actually make a decision to be solo it really just
happened I promise you that it’s hard to explain but you know I’d intended to be
in the group forever until I found myself in circumstances where I felt the
the inner desire to express myself freely and openly without any constraint
you know without anybody saying hey that’s you can’t say that that’s not
that’s not flooded can’t say that people you know what I mean so you know the
only way I could have done that wasn’t doing a solo release well the good part
about it is I think that God you know surrounded me with the right team you
know with the team that I needed to help me exercise all my ideas
you know it’s like you know I you need you need that you need that army you
need that force you know what I mean no no man is an island you know so I
refused to take all the praise you know for that because they were talented
musicians you know they were talented engineers they were talented production
assistants who really really you know were there
you really were there and if I had an idea I was able to express it and you
know made them stay and work diligently until it was expressed and you know that
that I appreciate I appreciate the fact that if there’s a will there’s a way
you know mis-education you know it um well it every day of me something to her
to me actually people automatically thought you know oh my she was not dunce
you know member their teachers and teach anything but that that wasn’t it that
the meaning behind it was really sort of a of a catch and me learning that you
know when I thought I was my most wise really not wise at all and then my
humility you know and in those places that most people wouldn’t expect a
lesson to come from that’s where I learned so much and you know and so I
turned the phrase mis-education you know not because it was a miss
education per se but just because it was sort of contrary to what the world says
is this education you know it was this education that came from life and
experience you know and the necessarily academic all academic but related to
living I’d gone through a lot you know a huge emotional and spiritual battle
prior to the creation of that album and the funny thing is that while I was
going in the battle I couldn’t see my hand despite my face I mean I really
couldn’t see anything because I was so emotionally entangled and everything
that I’d gone through but it was like once I was delivered from that situation
you know and once I got the perspective was able to look back at heartache and
look back at pain and disappointment for some reason it all was so clear you know
it was just like a you know the picture started to form itself
the song started to create themselves I was able to look back and and and and be
a narrator of my own situation but the interesting thing was that it didn’t it
couldn’t happen while I was in the middle of the of the confusion you know
it was about a young woman you know in the music industry you know and the
pitfalls the snares the traps and they don’t stop they keep coming you know
they don’t stop I think that because I I grew up in such a loving family
structure I thought that everybody did and therefore I thought that everybody
reaped the the benefit of that love and pretty naive way to think and so I
learned very important lessons about people and their voids and how when you
have voids you know like a like a black hole just sucks you know and consumes
everything into it you know and I I met a lot of those people you know here I
was this ship I just want to love the Hana but a lot of black holes lot of
people with a lot of deep deep painful voids and you know who found it easy to
take advantage and to manipulate and to dizzy deceive someone with me who just
you know all I want to do is love I I had to learn from those things painfully
you know but even now I thank God for correction you know I even thank him for
hardship because it shows me exactly where I am where I was and where I need
to be so it was important it was a very important record interestingly enough
you know that record was all about what I feel you know and it’s gonna be
interesting to see what the next record becomes because that will probably be
about what I think and you know as opposed to what I feel everything that I
feel you know it’ll be what I feel still you know but
it’s also going to be something conscious you know a lot of that was
unconscious creation unconscious creativity because I was so
overwhelmingly emotional you know it was just like I couldn’t I just had to write
about this every time that God navigates my ship this there’s nothing cerebral
going on it’s very little you know there’s very little thought it’s almost
as if I have the directions every time I try to deal myself I’m you know I’m
conjuring up my own concoction and trying and I you know it it feels more
difficult to do it that way because it takes a lot of thought it takes a lot of
energy but it’s like what I’m led you know it
kind of really is just it’s all there and it’s clear these did these are your
orders just go forth and carry them out and um so I was gonna say you know that
this album gets to be what I think but I don’t know who knows who knows what that
would be because I think that what I’ve consciously decided to do is be patient
and wait for those instructions again as opposed to the instructions from the
record company you know yeah I I can’t unfortunately I can’t fulfill their
needs you know I can’t because it if it’s devoid of all feeling you know what
I mean I have to make sure that what I create you know I never want to
condescend a lot of people who condescend to the audience you know they
just think all they’re like anything just don’t beat on it and put your voice
on it but if it doesn’t move me then I don’t think it’s worthy enough to put
out there and move someone else you know what I mean like it it has to be
something that is is personally you know is is something that I need personally
that’s my barometer for whether or not it’s good for the people not just
anything just you know just make a beat as hot
throw it out there you know that that I can’t use that barometer that doesn’t
work with me I personally feel the pressure the
pressure is out there yeah but I don’t I don’t feel it I don’t really really
don’t know it does exist anymore yep you see people hey where’s that
record company you come in you know you can’t leave us hanging like that we need
something else or the record company or the window of opportunity is almost
closed but I just don’t think that those rules applied to me and not because of
me but I just think that it’s something spiritual is something bigger and I
think that if you respond to the needs of the people you know that that that’s
timeless there is not a window of opportunity for people’s needs my whole
life and after at a certain point was studio and and you know Studio Hotel
stage Hotel stage studio stage Hotel Studio stage you know and you know and I
was expressing I was expressing everything from my past everything that
I had you know I experienced prior to that studio stage time and it was like
you know you you you have to go back to the well you know in order to you know
in order in order to to give someone something to Jake you know you can’t
felt like a cistern you know dried up and like there was nothing more you know
and I and it was so beautiful because normalcy I returned to a normal
situation with my children running around screaming you know and it was
wonderful and I walked down the street and I went grocery shopping and I loved
it every minute of it I loved I find you know even though it’s raining I just go
outside I look outside now I’m just so blessed to see it and to experience it
because for such a long time I was just indoors the whole concept of success to
me is is a little bit warped because what are you being successful at in your
house trapped that that’s not successfully living you know I don’t buy
into that whole concept of success that I had this mountain with this moat
around it get into my gym held my big car and you
know and drive to my destination and never see people that lets see that’s
not my concept of success you know my concept of successful living is escaping
the matrix is we talked about you know it you know has very little to do with
what people think success is I actually feel successful right now even though
you know I don’t have an album out or a video or soul in the radio because I’m
trying to be obedient to his will I’m trying to be you know a loving and
caring mother a loving and caring wife to be a loving and caring daughter a
loving and caring friend a responsible person and every day is another
opportunity for me to be successful at that the other stuff I think it’ll come
I think you know that I don’t think I know you know there are certain gifts
that each of us have you know the gifts would have to worry about so much
because God gave them to us it’s it’s it’s the living it’s the life it’s the
now you know it’s wisdom without understanding is what is it you know how
do you you’re so wise you’re so intelligent but how do you apply that to
your life is your life in turmoil I was born in East Orange I lived in Newark
for a brief time moved to New York for a short period of time and then moved to
South Orange and South Orange was it was interesting because it was this um very
diverse and I can’t just say south or enough to say the area surrounding South
Orange because North is the city and then the oranges are the suburbs okay
and you know I lived in in this suburb where it was like I’d say 50% maybe 40%
40% black 60% Jewish and I grew up with this this very eclectic just interesting
exposure to all these different cultures and of course Manhattan is right there
so you know just from the timers are young exposed to the
Jewish community the Asian community the West Indian community the Cuban
community the Latin you know just just a myriad of cultures in this one area my
mother was a teacher she was an educator and you know but even even if she wasn’t
I really think that I I had a love I don’t know if it was necessarily for
academics more than it just was for achieving period you know and if it was
academics if it was sports if it was music if it was dance whatever it was I
you know I was always driven to do a lot in whatever field or you know whatever
area I was focusing on at the moment so I I did well in school but um
learned a lot from that too you know learned a lot from the school the school
atmosphere the school setting but so much of my experiences came around
school you know not so much in the classroom but what took place outside
the classroom a lot of a lot of those life lessons we retained outside inside
as well but outside also my parents had a love for music they had a love for
there was there’s so many records you know so much music constant being played
my mother played piano my father sang and it was just music always surrounded
in music I remember when my earliest memories was in a house in East Orange
that we lived in where it’s you know either Sunday’s of Saturday’s maybe
Saturdays we would clean the house and my mother would play you know Stevie
Wonder’s songs the key life the whole album I remember hearing isn’t she
lovely and you know and pretending to iron you know so from a very young age
it was a lot of music when I was nine years old something around that age I
found a 45 record in the basement that belonged to my mother and you know I had
one of those little those little record players that you carry and a little
suitcase so that was the only record that would fit you know in my personal
record playing so I played it and whatever the song was it touched me you
know it moved me and I realized that I wanted to find more of those little
records called weird a little records I want to find these little records and
you know went to the basement and just like unearth tons and tons of these
records for my mother’s you know childhood and her youth and so here I am
eight nine years old everybody else is listening to new addition and whatever
current you know group is on the radio and I’m listening to like Shep and the
line lights and Gladys Knight & the Pips and you know and all these older groups
and really loving it and becoming you know just and just doused myself douse
myself in all this music and all this this this musical history and and they
really were my teachers my musical teachers I didn’t have you know I wasn’t
you know I didn’t go to Julliard or I wasn’t classically trained but by
listening you know I mean I grew an appreciation for certain musical
philosophies and ideas and concepts you know I understood what drums and bass
and you know and all different types of instrumentation were just by virtue of
my exposure to this music I would fall asleep to it we always talked about how
you know students don’t want to study put your book under the pillow and sleep
but I literally fell asleep with the music and I think there’s so much of
that you know I soaked up even in my dreams what’s going on Marvin Gaye I
should remember like playing the first side over and over again you know there
was one of those old record players after I moved up from the little
suitcase record playing it was a bigger record plane and my grandmother giving
to me and it was one of those old arms you know when you press the repeat it
turned and went down and I used to play my records aloud until one night my
mother was like this is too loud I’m not having it and so I put on headphones but
in order for me to listen to the records you know the headphones didn’t stretch
always my bed from the record player so I had to sleep on the floor in order to
hear the records and that’s where I slept until hiked until college I slept
on the floor right next to the record player until I was probably 19 years old
really I mean I just started sleeping in a bed again because my records you know
that was that was their space the bed and I just stayed on the floor listening
to this music from you know morning tonight actually to be very honest with
you I don’t listen to a lot of music at all anymore
anymore at all I think that’s very bizarre too because it was such a
comfort zone for me but I don’t know if I had my fill you know but I don’t
listen to a lot of music anymore because I’m creating it now you know everything
takes place in the season there was a season when that’s all I did was listen
and now I’m just in a place where I I don’t listen I create and if I do listen
you know there are specific things that I listen to and for specific reasons I’m
no longer listening for the you know I rarely I don’t wanna say I’d no longer
but I rarely listen for the sheer pleasure I’m listening for the tool I’m
listening for the instrument I’m listening for the art I’m listening for
boy that was that was crazy what they just did boy that chant you know what I
mean I’m is it’s very weird I think that part of that is is why I’m making music
now is to make it for other people to listen to for pleasure and hopefully
later on maybe they’ll listen to me they go that baseline boy did you hit away
those drums interacted with that or that change you know what I mean so you know
I think we all have a certain corner to hold we laid earlier this year Curtis
Mayfield passed away and we there was a memorial they asked me to sing at the
memorial and I was realizing that what Curtis represented in the 60s and 70s
you know it’s like there’s a season and and it’s it’s not really about the the
messenger per se it’s more about the message and how he had a time where he
had to hold it because they’re you know other people who singing love songs and
other things you know he had a very political
you know spiritual message and even though it was entertaining and you
enjoyed it and you could dance to it you know there was there was this this very
heavy value and I and as I listened to his eulogy and as I listened to the
music I mean music that I grew up listening to it just dawned on me that
that our generation is no different you know someone has to hold it you know
when everyone else is being indulgent doing whatever they want to do you know
someone has to be responsible so that that music reaches and touches you know
specific chord and that may not be me yeah I might lose my mind tomorrow and
but it’s got to be somebody a very close-knit very very tight family
my grandmother had 13 kids so we had a lot of family like 50 60 grandchildren
and we all lived in Jersey relatively in the same area so every every time there
was something you know my entire family was there and I just knew everybody’s
family was like that you know and we were always there for each other there
was a lot of love my grandmother was such a matriarch that like you know it
just through her children and then their children you know this this this love
this this family structure this close-knit family structure was was
implanted in all of us and it really helped to give me the confidence to know
you know to know that you have you know family to go back to is a help and it
doesn’t always happen biologically you know sometimes you know God gives you
family in other forms but I was very blessed and very strong biological
family you know my brother’s so funny every day yeah just remember a lot of
the things that we did growing up he’s a matter of fact he was my first group we
were a music group together that we were the first group we had a song called
let’s be friends and he played the acoustic and and I sang pretty bad song
but yeah but you know those early seeds are planted you know they were planted
definitely I would get my books via my mother’s really I would sit there she
would read certain books not gonna tell me about it you know and I’m sorry that
I didn’t pick him up myself I didn’t do that until a little bit later I think as
a child I was into you know you know the definitely Quimby type you know Ramona
Quimby know Beverly Beverly clear clear or yes you know I mean and yeah Ramona
Quimby age 8 and things like that but you know I was never an extensive reader
until until late I mean I tried you know not to have a day pass where I don’t
read something from the Bible for example it’s like my sustenance to me if
the entire week is a battle for you know it’s like reading that is sort
of like that parachute with the box of you know reserves it comes you know in
the middle of the war and your food and water and the toothbrush and toilet
paper you’re just like thank you you know so my reading you know it’s
definitely out I was such a I was very active I was always all over the place
trying to do a million things you know just into this activity of you asked me
when I was fourteen what I wanted to be our activist first it’s my occupation I
am an activist yeah after activist it was you know I
need to be a doctor and then I’m I’m going to minor in law and this double
major and until I got into college I was like whoa wait a minute this is great
you know I would pick the major yet and this is this is you know this is
responsibility and perhaps I should focus and every day is a lesson in focus
for me you know and not buying into sort of the world’s concept of what you have
to be you know I’m really try every day to be individual and not just in you
know my style and my look of my music but a my my approach to life you know
even you know you don’t want to be religious I want to be spiritual you
know anybody can be religious some people jog religiously you know you
don’t want to be that you want to be spiritual you want have a relationship
with God as opposed to doing what everyone else does and it just you know
it’s about having that unique approach and finding out what works for you and
if what works for you may not work for someone else you know but uh that’s
exciting when they could’ve easily said no or we have no interest you know we’re
not going to drive you to this audition no you know we’re not gonna allow you
guys to practice and play the music in the living room you know when they could
have easily done that they didn’t and just very very meaningful I mean my
parents you know really took a heavy you know very serious interest and my
creativity from the time I was very young and not for the sake of you know
they didn’t know what would come of it just because I enjoyed it you know and
to me that’s a reflection of love when someone can see you enjoying
yourself and want to participate I want to encourage I want to help you to do
something that you enjoy you know it wasn’t about making her a star or just
say she likes to do this let’s support it actually the music became came before
the acting but while I was doing music I found myself meeting people who acted
you know and and they exposed me to that field and I was kind of like hey alright
I’ll try it you know always thinking well music is my first love and I just
stumbled I mean when I tell you I stumbled upon all this
actually I didn’t stumble because there are no accidents but I did not you know
I didn’t have that intense ambition to be a musician or an actress you know I
just enjoyed it you know and if there was an opportunity hey you know I’ll go
and by enjoying it because I loved it and it enabled me to to get better and
what I was doing you know because there was a love behind it it wasn’t like I’ve
got to do this you know there wasn’t just you know naked ambition yeah I
really enjoyed what I was doing and all the while that I enjoyed it I was happy
doing and I was content doing it whether it was for three squirrels in the park
or you know for three acorns as compensation I mean it didn’t it didn’t
matter to me and because we loved it so much I think that that was a reflection
you know to others I think that they they saw that you know that to me you
know penetrated the minds in the hearts of people more than hey look how well we
can play you know was kind of there was something else that was communicated you
know by the music and and and by the artistry and that created opportunity
definitely but I don’t think that sophisticate that is just some straight
you know ghetto singing into the hairbrush in the mirror you know I
there was nothing sophisticated about it at all it was really you know was where
I grew up everyone was like that you know I mean everyone you know it’s like
you know especially in my family know there was there was not an abundance of
wealth but there was an abundance of love so there was always humour you know
and there was joy and it was comforting there was this environment
just to have a good time and then having a good time sometimes oh you stumble
upon a talent well I like to say I’m gonna sing this song hey you can sing
did you know that girl I can you go and let me take this a little more seriously
but you know it was just something that we all did you know it really was the
performance part of humanity you know I think I was just acting out on my
humanity you know on this gift that that God gave me and just being a kid you
know really being a kid and if I became sophisticated while I was doing that
that took place then you know I didn’t know about it because I certainly wasn’t
trying to you know I just tried to sing that song just like Whitney Houston
thought I mean it that’s really was the the goal at that point but um you know
if you love something man you know if you love something and if
you’re committed and diligent you know the things that happened I mean you know
some people who are blessed with gifts but then there’s people who can work
toward you know even with the gift that I have now I mean I’m not you I’ve
leaned on God for so long hey God you just gave me this gift and I’m just
gonna go out there and sing but it’s it’s only now that I’m realizing how
much larger and how expansive my gift becomes when I actually pay attention to
it and try to try to you know practice and try to perfect it I’ve always you
know I’m not gonna warm up I’m just going to student sing this song and
inspiration will take me and yes that’s true you know we are inspired to do
things and and indefinitely but you know now I’m understanding that like in the
Bible for example when it talked about David you know it’s always the David was
a skillful player he played cunningly you know so that that took practice and
I’m you know I’m not afraid of that anymore I’m that that’s exciting to me
boy that’s an interesting question I know my mother’s right there but I
didn’t know what my father did for the first 15 years of my life everything
everybody who asked me and I would say I just works with computers or something I
don’t know because he was a consultant I think and consulting is such a vague
term you know when you consult but my father was a he was a computer
consultant and you know only now that I do some consulting sometimes I
understand exactly what consulting means but uh my father was he was brilliant
not to tell you because he he was just exposed to so much culture and he
exposed us to so much culture I remember being like you know seven years old
wanting to go to International House of Pancakes on Saturday and my father takes
us to dim sum you know which is which is like a Chinese brunch and like Chinese
breakfast and me being like what is it you know but really learning and
enjoying and appreciating culture and and not just my that that wasn’t just my
own from a very young age they like everyone else have just been carried
away no more kidding they’ve lost it completely they know my parents are very
humble very real you know my mother’s always very honest with me and I’m you
know I’m thankful for that because I need that you know you need someone who
just you know can can can penetrate the facade and say I know you win and let’s
go back there right now so definitely they’ve definitely handled
it well probably was about third to you I guess professionally would be I guess
the first time I entered into a studio or you know film and maybe television
performed for money there’s probably 13 14 years old
something like that you know once again you know all these opportunities were
just presented you know I did not go out and pursue them and you know I was
always surprised I was always very surprised you know and at how people
received what what I did I was always like really I said those lines okay yeah
because um but I think I just had a there was a certain amount of
seriousness from it from a child I understood that yeah I think that my
work ethic I think the work ethic that was established in my family was also
something very important you know the you know if you play at the seed if you
you know if you you know so sparingly you’ll reap
sparingly if you sow an abundance you’ll reap an abundance so that was you know
always sort of in us from very young so even the things that I loved that tried
to you know put a couple seeds in there you know bunch of seeds in the ground
and see what sprung up and sometimes it was acting and sometimes it was music
but whatever it was I continued to plant she gave me a piece of bread which was
you know love and encouragement you know the correction was the meat the
substance and then she was sandwich that you know sandwich that with it with
another piece of bread which was you know love and encouragement so you know
that was very important in shaping and molding our morality you know our
understanding of ourselves you know making sure that we didn’t think we were
better than or less than anyone you know feeling no more worthy or no less worthy
you know than anyone else and all that was was really really crucial and and
prepared me for where I am now you know that that that is very important
preparation well the first cramming I won was with the Fugees mm-hmm oh boy
I’m not good at these answers because you know I don’t know the response for
that one I guess I was honored you know what I mean but the honor to me has less
to do with the award you know what I’m saying it is a to me that translates in
the relationship that I have with the audience and if my music is helpful to
them you know that’s the award you know and and that you know that you know if I
if I never want to Grammy you know I would be satisfied if in fact I could
help people because it’s it’s really really not about that
and I don’t say that because it sounds like something cool to
say I mean really you know if those NARS people knew how we treat no one kidding
hey my mother has that stuff all the awards and stuff because you know if I
walk down stairs every day and I saw all my achievements it would be so easy to
become complacent I’ve got all of these and look at those need to do anything
else but life is is is continued work it’s it’s constant learning I don’t even
the whole concept of retirement I don’t even buy into you know we should
constantly be working maybe not physically working but we could be
spiritually emotionally working toward bettering ourselves and bettering the
lives of others around us so I’m you know I get really afraid of those little
comfort you know those things that make us feel like you know we did something
great because I’ve done nothing I’ve done nothing and I mean that sincerely
there’s a time for rest you know but um you know I just I don’t believe in
getting comfortable just because everyone says you’ve arrived you know
that’s not what it’s all about once you you compromise yourself in one way you
compromise yourself in another way and you’ve just opened the door to you know compromise mediocrity settling and I
don’t mean when I say mediocrity I don’t mean I mean that we should constantly be
aspiring you know to reach higher and higher and higher we should never be
comfortable where we are you know we should always be aspiring to to know
more and to better ourselves and to prove ourselves you know to prove
ourselves because that’s how we improve the world around us by working within us
you improve yourself light up the corner that you live on you know you may not
touch a gazillion lives but you can light up your own space light up your
home as long as I remember that the glorious hitting on my own
when I confused that I get in trouble when I remember the proper hierarchy
because see see we have it all wrong we think that we glorify ourselves and that
we you know the object is to glorify God first and in doing that you become
glorified you get glorified you know there are certain times when of late
especially that God has shown me you know just be quiet because I started to
feel like I always had to expound you know and say something profound and stop
thinking if I could tell you that I was totally unprepared I don’t know that I
can’t prepare anything because I always just I just drop it because it’s just
too cerebral and what I’m feeling in here just all this ball of energy inside
and when you know it just doesn’t work you know with my intellectual mind they
just the tool like you know so I either one has to take control either I
suppress that spirit you know or I suppress my brain and it usually works
out the best when I you know suppress and not not kill not destroy but just
suppress allow my spirit you know to navigate the rest of my you know devices
instead of allowing those things to have control over my spirit because you know
I just I have a considerable amount of confidence but it’s not in me you know
it’s it’s it’s the work that God is doing in me that makes me confident I
don’t have a an American dream I have a dream because my dream relates the
entire world you know and to be honest with you I mean that is that the entire
world you know find have salvation that the entire world have joy that the
entire world know God and have peace and have his rest and his happiness you know
for me to limit that and say that that’s an American dream that would be far too
limiting that’s a dream for this entire world that we really all have the
presence of God in our lives because I can’t give anyone anything more you
know I God showed me I can sing songs about love I can sing songs about me and
those people enjoy those songs but when they’re desperately desperately in need
of help what will my music do how will it help them
will it redeem them will it save them but fight that battle for them you know
it’s just a song

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