Lauryn Hill plays Rock the Bells festival: Is she back for good?

LAURYN-HILLImage Credit: Brendon Thorne/Getty ImagesWhen Lauryn Hill gives a live performance as well-received as the one she did at the Rock the Bells tour’s Aug. 21 stop in San Bernardino, Calif., it’s worth paying attention. It’s not that she’s never given concerts over the past decade. (Pictured to your left is her performance this January at Sydney, Australia’s Raggamuffin Festival.) But since Hill’s de facto retirement, fairly or not, it’s often been said that her live act has become inconsistent, unreliable, not what it once was. Consider her Rock the Bells performance this weekend a major piece of evidence against that theory.

Hill joined a dream team of rap legends in San Bernardino. Snoop Dogg, Slick Rick, the Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, Rakim, and others each performed one of their best-loved albums start to finish. Hill only has one solo studio album to her name, of course, but she didn’t stick to that limitation, performing a selection of Fugees and solo hits. MTV News’ on-the-scene report makes it sound like a pretty great set list, including sped-up versions of “Lost Ones,” “Doo Wop (That Thing),” “To Zion,” “Ready or Not,” and “Fu-Gee-La.” “This was not a woman who some reports had labeled ‘crazy,'” writes MTV’s Shaheem Reid. “Lauryn was lucid and dancing and appeared to be enjoying herself.”

One solid concert doesn’t necessarily mean Lauryn Hill is ready to return to public life full-time. The same goes for the recent Billboard debut of “Repercussions,” a leaked tune of indeterminate age whose No. 94 spot on the Hot 100 marked the first time she’d been on that chart as a lead artist since 1999. Still, it’s hard not to see these as good signs. Let’s hope this latest flurry of news heralds a major comeback, complete with new music worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill or even her underrated MTV Unplugged set.

After the jump, check out an extremely shaky video of Hill rocking “Lost Ones” (clip via Rap Radar). Were you at this show? How was it? Are you ready for Lauryn Hill to come back?

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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Comments (23 total) Add your comment
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  • Tim

    Ehh, her time is passed…let it go already.

    • Paula

      And you’re a big part of the reason why the music industry SUCKS today. The real talent must experience obtuse people like you. Now we have Ciara and Rihanna. God save us all.

      • @Paula

        I understand you’re defending Lauren, but do you have to dis Ciara and Rhianna in the process? All 3 women fit 3 distinct genres. Rhianna is Pop, Ciar is R&B, and Lauren is Hip-hop and Soul.

    • mike

      Why is it that every first comment on thes site is always negative?

      • Corey

        Its called snark. “This site” EW is kind of famous for using it. ;)

    • erin

      Tim is a dummy who knows nothing about music.

  • Mal

    We need Lauryn more then ever. Pop music is filled with these hyper sexual, over produced, over stylized with nothing important to say female singers.

    • @Mal

      Lauryn isn’t a pop artist.

      • erin

        Technically, all of these genres (R&B, country, rock, hip-hop, “pop”) are pop music; as opposed to classical or folk music.

      • @erin

        That may be, but what we think of as pop has formed into it’s own category. The other genres are more specific.

      • Mal

        What I meant by pop is mainstream music. Stuff we hear on the radio.

  • Victor

    I agree with you Mal. (To a point.) However her performance was absolute CRAP! The tempo was ridiculous. She seemed happy to be there, but her show was senseless. Too many instruments and background vocals were just noise on top of each other. I too am looking forward to a new album from her, but if that was a sign of things to come, I’ll pass.

    • Paula

      Her performance was great. What the hell were you smoking? She sped up the tempos on songs. BIG F*CKING DEAL!! That made her whole set “crap”? Please, grow up.

      • @Paula

        I agree with Victor. As much as I love her, the show was kinda crappy all sped up like that. It took away from the meaning of the songs. And as for the vocals, he’s right, too many. We wanna hear her voice, not a bunch of instruments dwoning her out.

  • Elizabeth

    Pop music is filled with it because one gimmick works and the labels/radio station owners refuse to give anyone else a look.

    The Machine is broken – it needs fixed.

    • erin

      Agreed!!

  • erin

    How can you tell ANYTHING about this performance from this video? The sound is AWFUL. I’ll make my own decisions this Saturday in NYC, baby!!!!

    • @erin

      We all know that Lauryn is a great artist and a soulful singer. You’re right, the sound system was dreadful.

  • Alex

    Lauryn Hill is off the hook, but what about A Tribe Called Quest? I wanna see what they did.

  • jon

    lauryn’s set was dope… Lost ones was pretty much the only sped up song she did the others were either on beat or total remakes…she still has dope flow… fugee-la and zealots was dope…I hope she does do another album cause she’s a great soul artist as well as MC… @alex Tribes performance was the show stealer for me…they were on point! then there was a special cameo that made the performance extra special and extra hype… btw we were at the Mountainview show and it was off the hook!!! ; )

  • Sam

    Luv Lauryn Hill. Judging from her erratic behavior she may have an illness that needs to be controlled regularly with special medication. There are a lot of people that just can not smoke marijuana because it negatively impacts their brains (damages it to some extent). Many do not find this out until it is too late. The end result is they become ill and can never smoke again, and if they do smoke again they will have another break down, which may take years to recover from. Some never fully recover. If the smoking is combined with an abusive environment and isolation it can cetainly lead to mental illness. This can result in some form of psychosis or schizophrenia. This is a chronic illness in with there is no cure, and the symptoms will come and go, and even worsen over time. If she is suffering from some form of mental illness she needs specialized medical care and treatment. Along with this she needs compassion and understanding from the public. Remember to be kind, because it could happen to you just as quickly as it happened to her, whether you smoke marijuana or not. It is one of those illnesses that seems to strike when you least expect it, and it is no joke.

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