Happy Birthday L Boogie
Happy Birthday Ms. Lauryn “L Boogie” Hill!!
I remember the 1st time I heard Lauryn's voice, the raspy filling between a Haitian man-sandwich as 1/3 of the Fugees. Lil Kim and Foxy Brown had been the front-runners, vying for the the #1 position of Best Female MC. The fight was ugly, 2 homegirls slinging mud and everything else at each other trying to do their best crabs in a barrel imitation. The Fugees alone were refreshing and full of promise upon their entry on the scene, but that girl Lauryn had something with her.
She was believable. She was gentle with an edge. Men were intrigued by her full pucker and beckoning eyes. Women were proud that she was not walking in the shadows of Trina and the other 2 aforementioned “ladies.” When Queen Latifah used her Native Tongue to spit “Ladies First,” her Afrocentric style should’ve appealed to me since that’s what I came from. Her ‘fit seemed forced and I just rode with appreciation for something different, while not fully relating to her. MC Lyte will forever be my girl, but her aesthetic was a lot less feminine than I’ve ever been. Lauryn held her own and wore her femininity proudly. She had brains and beauty and left us all wanting more. Our mouths were all open, tongues wagging in anticipation by the time Miseducation of Lauryn Hill dropped. I had a soundtrack, finally, from a woman who was my age (or close to) and who looked like we could be friends in real life.
Lauryn proceeded to give us a couple public years of “bad bitch,” a la Erykah Badu, Tina Turner, even Kelis. She was the woman who didn’t care what anyone thought of her, or so she appeared. Perhaps it was the weight of all of our collective thoughts that made her disappear behind rumors of heartbreak, infidelities committed against her, multi-motherhood, and possible mental health issues. We’d decided that someone this dope MUST continue to feed our hunger for more. Somewhere she decided, or had it decided for her by life’s circumstances, that she’d leave us to starve instead.
I miss her. I have a hard time going back to listen to Miseducation, though it’s one of my all time favorites, speaking to far too many times in my own development as a woman. It reminds me that no more is coming. I’d rather my sister be OK than be here to edutain me. We ate Michael Jackson alive, no need to destroy any more of our national musical treasures. I have my memories to live with. And if “worse comes to hearse” I’ll break down and actually listen to her music.
The lessons learned in my 30’s, I’m sure, are different from hers based on the paths we’ve chosen. I can only imagine the lessons coming her way and the time required to process them while raising 5 children with some semblance of sanity while bearing her genes as well as being Marley descendants. No easy task. She may be too busy to make music, or she may have discovered that gardening provides far more fulfillment. I hope that the rumors of her being bipolar are just rumors and that instead she’s found great peace and purpose.
Today, may the faces of her Gemini look lovingly upon each other and have each other’s backs, not satisfy the Gemini curse with personality splits and internal dissension. I miss you Lauryn Hill, and I wish you the happiest of birthdays.
Missing watching her move.