It was just over a year ago, at last year’s Wawa Welcome America, that Philadelphia music lovers got to see multiple Grammy Award-winning Jersey girl-gone-mad Lauryn Hill shine brightly and beautifully onstage. She surprised Fourth of July audiences, thanks to the Roots, with a souped-up, skin-tight performance of songs from her widely acclaimed debut solo LP, 1998’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the album that propelled her to the heights from which she’s fallen with almost equal force. Hill’s three-month term for tax evasion began early Monday, when she reported to Connecticut’s Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury. Doesn’t matter that she paid nearly $1 million in back taxes; she pleaded guilty, got her sentence and now, as it were, is facing the music.
We’ll miss you, lady. But hell, we’ve been missing the artist we fell in love with for nearly a decade. Like the Jackson 5 said, we want you back. So, in the spirit of love, here are five pieces of advice from my dad—who found himself in a federal “halfway house” after a crack-reasoned plot to counterfeit money when I was in high school.
Meditate. If allowed, that is. If it isn’t, steal five minutes while still in bed each morning. Get your head right before facing a day filled with potential triggers.
Practice detachment. It’s painfully, powerfully obvious that you don’t separate who you are from what you do, and it’s admirable that you still consider the legions who love you as fans, not just customers. (See, Jay-Z? It’s possible.) But sisterfriend, if it’s your goal to sell records, you’ve got to detach from them once they’re birthed. Maybe that’ll improve your output?
Start a nonprofit organization for suffering people through which you can pay yourself and your folk nearly a third of the charity’s donations. Or not, since Wyclef’s got that lane covered.
Embrace the lesson, whatever it is. Even if it’s just “Geez, I better get myself an accountant who will not tolerate my bullshit,” be open to whatever the Universe has on its chalkboard.
Write, write, write. Well, you certainly don’t need that advice from the likes of me. But instead of songs, pen a book/screenplay/mini-series/eventual HBO megahit about your experience, not Rita Marley’s. She already wrote her biography; we want to read yours. Chris Rock will produce the film or series; Ava Duvernay will direct it, and Adepero Oduye and Patina Miller can battle on the mic for the lead. Olivia Pope, my foot—a partially fictionalized L. Boogie character would have that night, even against the non-president’s non-woman, on lock.
The Pack A.D. are built for the road