Hip Hop, Psalms, and Lamentations

"Fantasy is what people want, but reality is what they need. And I've just retired from the fantasy part," says Lauryn Hill in the way only divas can on her new album MTV Unplugged 2.0, released in May. It's been a while since we've heard so much as a peep out of the 27-year-old hip-hop queen, but in that time Hill's been intoxicated with the gospel. Most fans are surprised to unwrap a double-disc album that plays more like a four-hour sermon, with 13 new songs and nine preachy interludes.

Bold as the disciples after Pentecost, Hill's sophomore solo album is more akin to a poetry slam of her life testimony than any pop, hip-hop, rap, or reggae hit she's had in the past. If South Orange, New Jersey—where Hill grew up—is the New Jerusalem, then she is the New David, plucking out lamentations and psalms on her postmodern lute.

While the Grammy Award-winning The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill made her a superstar, she's less self-righteous in Unplugged, more confessional and painfully personal. Unplugged is so raw, so humble, so honest you feel like you can't make eye contact with anyone in the room because she's rapping to you from her diary. Recorded last summer in front of a small studio audience, Hill shares jokes and technical mistakes, sheds tears, and bares her soul.

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Sojourners Magazine September-October 2002
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