Lauryn Hill Addresses Her Lateness at Los Angeles Show

The unspoken contract between Lauryn Hill and the fans who attend her live shows maintains that the singer will show up when she’s ready, and they will either wait patiently or plan to arrive late, too. Currently on the road for an anniversary tour celebrating 25 years of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the musician provided more context to her understanding of this contract, telling the audience at her Los Angeles show: “You’re saying ‘She’s late. She’s late a lot.’ Yo, y’all lucky I make it on this … stage every night.”

Hill performed the first show of the anniversary tour with the Fugees on Oct. 18. In the weeks since, she has postponed two shows — one in Philadelphia and the other in Fort Worth — citing severe vocal strain and injury. “I fought through the last couple shows, pushing my voice, and masking the injury with medication. This isn’t safe or sustainable,” she said at the time. It’s a more plausible explanation for the musician’s somewhat chaotic touring schedule, though it doesn’t completely explain the perpetual lateness.

“I don’t do it because they let me do it. I do it because I stand here in the name of God and I do it. God is the one who allows me to do it, who surrounded me with family and community when there was no support,” Hill told the Los Angeles audience, adding that the music itself is a key factor in her relationship with performing live. “When [The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill] sold so many records, no one showed up and said, ‘Hey, would you like to make another one?’ So I went around the world, and I played the same album over and over and over and over again. Because we are survivors, and we’re not just survivors, we’re thrivers.”

Hill made a similar comment to Rolling Stone in a rare 2021 interview, saying no one from her label reached out regarding following up her massive debut solo album. “With The Miseducation, there was no precedent. I was, for the most part, free to explore, experiment and express,” she explained at the time. “After The Miseducation, there were scores of tentacled obstructionists, politics, repressing agendas, unrealistic expectations, and saboteurs EVERYWHERE. People had included me in their own narratives of THEIR successes as it pertained to my album, and if this contradicted my experience, I was considered an enemy.”

In 2003, Rolling Stone reported that Hill had in fact already started the process of recording an official second album in Miami, though two decades later it has still not managed to manifest in any form beyond a few loose singles. At the time, an industry figure explained: “A lot of different people have been called down there and had strange experiences.” The slow-moving sessions reportedly required some musicians to sign a waiver granting Hill sole writing credits for their collaborations while others were flown out and put up in hotels but never actually put to work in the studio. Some sources added that Columbia Records halted her recording budget after she spent more than $2.5 million, but the label denied the claims at the time and maintained that the follow-up album would be released in 2004 (it wasn’t).

Hill’s longstanding commitment to being in complete control often included her pushing back against the idea of idol worship and parasocial exchanges between artists and fans who feel entitled to any piece of them. “I agreed to share my art, I’m not agreeing necessarily to share myself. The entitlement that people often feel, like they somehow own you, or own a piece of you, can be incredibly dangerous,” she told Rolling Stone in 2021. “I chafe under any kind of control like that and resist expectations that suggest I should somehow dumb-down and be predictable to make people feel comfortable rather than authentically express myself.”


The anniversary tour picks back up tomorrow, Nov. 7, with the Fugees in Oakland, California.

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