Ms. Lauryn Hill at Deer Lake Park, Burnaby, 9/14/18
On Friday (Sept. 14), Ms. Lauryn Hill, the world renowned queen of neo-soul, returned to Vancouver for the third year in a row to perform at Deer Lake Park. Only this time, the R&B singer-songwriter came on the 20th anniversary tour of her debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Ms. Hill, who is infamously known for her tardiness, did not begin on time. Hill recently spoke out about the media’s insistence that her lateness is because she doesn’t respect her fans. She noted that the reason is in fact due to her wanting everything to be “just right” so that the audience receives “the most authentic musical experience.” In short, it’s her perfectionism that often keeps fans waiting.
The crowd held on for quite some time, and just when they seemed to reach their limit, Ms. Hill walked on stage in an outfit and a presence only befitting a true monarch. The cheers were deafening and the bass even more so. She began to spit the lyrics to “Lost Ones” with such fire and intensity that the crowd soon forgot about the rain that was drenching their clothes.
Hill then moved swiftly into a soulful rendition of “Everything is Everything.” Heartfelt visuals flooded the background depicting moments of joy, pain and sorrow of the African diaspora. A suitable choice for a song that was created to bring awareness to the struggles of black people.
She continued onto a touching performance of “When It Hurts So Bad.” Ms. Hill’s ability to evoke pain in her voice did not go unnoticed by the audience who cheered loudly after the last note of the song echoed from the stage.
Other highlights included her performances of “Final Hour,” “Ex Factor” and “Zion.” The crowd was noticeably enjoying every moment of the show.
Ms. Hill’s mother walked onto the stage and whispered into her ear. The crowd grew silent and fearful as they knew what this meant. It was already 10:00 PM and Hill would have to wrap up.
She gathered herself with poise and grace and addressed the audience with a deep and profound speech. She told the history of how the album came to be and what it meant to her, her fans, the industry and future generations.
Hill explained that she wanted to take the tradition of black music and compile it into one album that would last a lifetime. She wanted those who came after her to have what she referred to as: “Something relevant and with a history that would we could give to the cosmos.”
Fans nodded and cheered in agreement. “Doo Wop (That Thing)” began to play and was thought to be her final number. But to the crowd’s surprise, Ms. Hill gave a cheeky look, and subsequently performed a cover performance of Drake’s “Nice for What.”
Drake’s song is reminiscent of a previous quote from Hill from her Medium blog article. It reads:
“Show me an artist working now who hasn’t been directly influenced by the work I put in, and I’ll show you an artist who’s been influenced by an artist who was directly influenced by the work that I put in.”
Her influence rings true in Drake’s song as it features her vocals from “Ex-Factor” and demonstrates how instrumental she has been in affecting the genre, the industry and other popular artists, even two decades after her solo debut.
Hill left the stage shortly after. Some audience members lingered. Those who had been to her show last year remembered how she and Nas defied venue managers, rushed back on stage and finished their set after being told it was time. You could see that these fans were hopeful that that scenario would play out again.
It did not.
Despite their disappointment, whispers of “It was still a good show,” and “I liked it,” rippled through the crowd. Their faces though, demonstrated another emotion. And so they left sorrowful that it didn’t last just a tad bit longer.