Lauryn Hill is considered one of the greatest rappers of all time and during the height of her career, she always had a spot reserved on the Pop/Hip-Hop/R&B charts, whether she was with her first band, the Fugees, or when she broke out on her own for her solo career. Lauryn Hill reigned supreme, especially all throughout the 1990s. If you turned on the radio whenever anytime during that time, chances are you were trying to hit her high notes in “Killing Me Softly With His Song” by the Fugees or belting it out (most likely off-key, like the rest of us) the chorus to her solo hit “Doo-Wop (That Thing)”. You couldn’t escape her, she was everywhere, and we didn’t mind because she was that good.
However, by the 2000s, her career took a sharp turn downwards and she seemed to disappear completely off the map. The only time you ever heard her on the airwaves were replays of The Fugees classics or singles from her solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, or when her past tracks were sampled on other artists’ songs. It was quite the head-scratcher for everyone, no one could figure out why Lauryn Hill would pretty much abandon her career, especially when her single solo debut album was not only a smash hit but was critically acclaimed.
So, what exactly happened to Lauryn Hill? Why did she drop off the face of the planet and what has she been up to all these years? We decided to check out what happened and see where this once rising star is today. Check out below and see what happened to Lauryn Hill.
Around the year 2000, Lauryn Hill decided that the pressures of fame were getting to her. Not only was she known for her time performing with The Fugees but her solo career catapulted her to superstardom and she was being recognized by fans, and the dreaded paparazzi, everywhere she went. She was being harassed so much that she hated leaving the house for fear that she would be judged on her appearance for going to run simple errands such as grocery shopping or driving around town.
Around the same time, because Lauryn was so fed up with the attention that comes with being a celebrity, she even fired her management team and stopped giving interviews. She also took it as far as deciding not to watch TV or listen to music. She had decided to completely cut herself off from the outside world. When reflecting on this part of her life in later interviews, Lauryn said that experience was a time for her to self-reflect and to find herself again, having had to become a different person to fit the mold that her label wanted her to be.
Around the same time, Lauryn became more spiritual and even started associating with someone who she referred to her as “spiritual advisor”. This person went by the name of Brother Anthony and those close to Lauryn felt that he was taking advantage of her because of the cult-like practices he involved Lauryn in. Some even went as far as saying that he was the reason that Lauryn started acting strangely during her rare public appearances afterward.
Weird Public Appearances
In the rare moments Lauryn would make a public appearance after the year 2000, they were very bizarre and definitely made headlines, something that she definitely didn’t want. These weird public appearances included her 2001 MTV Unplugged 2.0 series where she awkwardly played guitar on new material she was working on and rambled nonsense between sets. Many even considered this to be the beginning of her public meltdowns that would continue to happen throughout her career when she made public appearances.
Lauryn then decided to do the unthinkable and take on the Catholic Church. This didn’t work out so well when 80’s alt-pop star Sinéad O’Connor did the same thing, so you would think Lauryn would have thought not to do the same. However, in 2003 during a concert in the Vatican City, Lauryn would use that as an opportunity to read aloud a letter that criticized the Catholic Church’s scandal and their cover-up of pedophilia that was rampant amongst the church. The Catholic Church clapped back when they posted a scathing review of her in one of their church papers and stated that her career was circling the drain.
She is also known to have tried and changed the composition of her songs from her debut album instead of performing new material. Since she has not released new music, she only plays tracks from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which has been over for over 20 years. Understandably, fans want new music, but since Lauryn refuses to release new music, she tries to pacify her fans instead by playing variations of these old classics, which according to fans who were unlucky enough to hear them, are not good and sound awful.
In addition to her bizarre public appearances, she has also shown up late to virtually every concert she has performed. Many fans have said she was even two hours late to her show, which as most concert-goers know, is pretty much like missing an entire concert. Apparently the backlash to her lateness was so bad, that Lauryn finally decided to address these concerns on her Facebook page by saying “I don’t show up late to shows because I don’t care,” the singer began the letter to her unhappy fans. “The challenge is aligning my energy with the time, taking something that isn’t easily classified or contained, and trying to make it available for others. I don’t have an on/off switch. I am at my best when I am open, rested, sensitive, and liberated to express myself as truthfully as possible”. Fans have certainly been divided on this statement with some saying this isn’t a justified response and others defending her need to be an artist and do things her way.
In June 2012, Lauryn was charged with three accounts of tax fraud because of her failure to pay taxes on her earnings from 2005 and 2007. According to the charges, she had been touring, putting on live performances, and getting royalties from her music, both from her solo album and her work with The Fugees. Lauryn tried to dispute this on a long Tumblr post in which she said that she pays her taxes but only stopped when she felt like she needed to protect herself and her family. The post was very confusing to most people and some felt like she was trying to acquit herself of the charges, especially in the court of public opinion. Eventually, Lauryn did show up to court and plead guilty to the charges. She was ordered to pay back the money owed, which was around 1.8 million, but only managed to pay about half at the time. She also faced eviction from a home she was renting in Orange County for running a business out of her home without having the proper zoning license. It’s safe to say, Lauryn has had a lot of legal troubles follow her since her career peaked.
Where Is She Now?
What is Lauryn Hill up to these days? As far as her music career goes, she still has not released any plans on a follow-up sophomore album. However, in 2019, she did record a studio version of the song “Guarding the Gates”, which was used for the 2019 film, Queen and Slim. She also became a grandmother in October 2020 when her oldest song, Zion, 23, had his first child. Some of her songs are also supposedly being sampled on Kanye West’s new album.
Although Lauryn Hill has had a chaotic past, she truly is one of the greatest artists of all time. We hope that there is still some fight left in her to release another solo album. We hope to see her release new music one day and hope once again we’ll find ourselves singing along to her new songs, just like we did her classics.