MTV Unplugged v. 2.0, Lauryn Hill
I consider myself to be the number one Lauryn Hill fan. When her album dropped in '98, I made sure to tell everyone that I came into contact with how beautiful her music was. I was not the only one singing her praises. Her face and music were plastered everywhere, from radio to television to magazines.
Ironically, in early May of 2002, Lauryn's second CD, MTV Unplugged v. 2.0, came out with little to no promotion. Was it intentional? Perhaps. Is this a new Lauryn for 2002? Damn right.
Lauryn's a little older and wiser AND mad as hell. MTV Unplugged is a two-CD set, which contains Lauryn performing - at that time, unreleased songs accompanied by an acoustic guitar, in front of an anxious audience. (Does anyone remember Lauryn playing the guitar in the Fugees? [Heck no, maybe that's why she keeps playing the same chord over and over - Chris]). On my first listen to the album, I absolutely loved it. It was unassuming and spiritual, something that the music biz is definitely lacking. On the second listen, I realized how angry and unhappy she was on the first album.
Throughout the CD, she tells the audience how different she has become. What we knew before was not Lauryn Hill, but a "manufactured performer."
I was completely shocked by that statement. I liked Lauryn from '98. She always seemed as though she was in total control of everything - her look, her sound and her life. Who knew that she hated every minute of her fame?
The reason for her discontent is that she simply felt that she could not be herself. She had to create the "perfect image," which meant losing her identity. She hated the façade that came along with being an entertainer. The main reason that she lasted as long as she did was that she was driven by her career. Once she could no longer stomach the lies, she left the music business and reconnected with herself and her family.
The songs on this latest CD were born out of her frustration, which eventually lead to her evolution. She wanted to finally show her fans who she is and how she wants to make music. By doing that, she rid herself of the flavour of the month producers, and opted for doing her music by herself.
Even though I like the depth of this album, there is no need for the songs to be on two CDs. Once you've finished listening to the first disc, you feel satisfied. When I put the second CD on, I found the music to be very repetitive (read - I was getting a little sick of hearing the same damn guitar chord). However, the biggest drawback of this album is that Lauryn complains throughout the whole CD. After each song, she will tell the audience that she is different now and that she is not the person that we remember from a few years back. Okay, we get it!!!
The complaining aside, one of my favourite tracks from the CD is Just Like Water. It is an airy, romantic song that speaks of the feelings that you have when you are in love (I am a hopeless romantic). It is beautiful and definitely a song that I suggest that she releases.
I understand why she did not promote this album and why we do not hear her songs on the radio. Her music was not meant to be shoved down our throats or displayed with booty-licious dancers sporting bling bling. The message she wants to convey is the softer, gentler, more humble side of Lauryn. She has, as a result, turned her back on the relentless tours, award shows and interviews. She would rather you feel the music rather than get caught up in her image. Go ahead, sista! ¤ Michelle
MTV UNPLUGGED V. 2.0: (out of 5)