Lauryn Hill pulled herself almost totally out of the public eye for years after her runaway success with the Fugees and the "Miseducation of Lauryn Hill."
But she clearly never stopped making music. And a song she penned years ago provides some knowing insight into the turmoil in Ferguson, Missouri.
"Black Rage" co-opts "My Favorite Things," and anyone who doesn't understand why Ferguson's black population, and the larger community, is frustrated with the status quo need only listen to Hill's lyrics:
"Black rage is founded on two-thirds a person,
rapings and beatings and suffering that worsens.
Black human packages tied up in strings,
black rage can come from all these types of things."
Hill released the song in the wake of massive protests in Ferguson after a white police officer killed an unarmed black teen. She has performed the song before but never released the audio until now.
"An old sketch of Black Rage, done in my living room. Strange, the course of things. Peace for MO. -- MLH," Hill writes on her SoundCloud page.
"Old time bureaucracy, drugging the youth,
black rage is founded on blocking the truth.
Murder and crime, compromise and distortion.
Sacrifice, sacrifice. Who makes this fortune?"
"Black Rage" comes as some in the music industry are asking if hip-hop artists do enough to address police violence against black people. Vibe held a roundtable with music and culture critics. The overwhelming feeling is there's work to do.
"I'm extremely disappointed that the bigger hip-hop acts have refrained from playing a larger role in this. Some of hip-hop's most visible artists can beef with one another over the most trivial of things (money, women, who's more macho) but won't beef with law enforcement over killing our children?" writer Andreas Hale said. "We were 'outraged' with Cristal for not valuing us as consumers but where is that outrage now?"
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Hip-hop artist J. Cole already put out a song about Michael Brown's death, "Be Free." It's hard to listen as his voice cracks with emotion when he asks the one question that doesn't have a good answer: Can you tell me why?