On Monday (April 22), emcee/singer Lauryn Hill appeared before a judge for sentencing in a tax evasion hearing. The New Jersey native was reportedly ordered to pay a million dollars in penalties and back-taxes from failure to file in 2005, 2006 and 2007, and had two weeks to do so. Reports quickly followed that Hill, who is also allegedly facing eviction in a local residence, had signed with Sony, with whom she recorded (through Ruffhouse/Columbia Records) as both a member of The Fugees and as a multi-platinum soloist.
Yesterday (April 25), Lauryn Hill broke the silence and took to her Tumblr page to react to the news and the verdict. Writing as “MLH,” for “Ms. Lauryn Hill,” the singer countered some of the reported information, and confirmed other aspects. The full letter is re-published below:
“It has been reported that I signed a new record deal, and that I did this to pay taxes. Yes, I have recently entered into an agreement with Sony Worldwide Entertainment, to launch a new label, on which my new music will be released. And yes, I am working on new music.
I’ve remained silent, after an extensive healing process. This has been a 10+ year battle, for a long time played out behind closed doors, but now in front of the public eye. This is an old conflict between art and commerce… free minds, and minds that are perhaps overly tethered to structure. This is about inequity, and the resulting disenfranchisement caused by it. I’ve been fighting for existential and economic freedom, which means the freedom to create and live without someone threatening, controlling, and/or manipulating the art and the artist, by tying the purse strings.
It took years for me to get out of the ‘parasitic’ dynamic of my youth, and into a deal that better reflects my true contribution as an artist, and (purportedly) gives me the control necessary to create a paradigm suitable for my needs. I have been working towards this for a long time, not just because of my current legal situation, but because I am an artist, I love to create, and I need the proper platform to do so.
The nature of my new business venture, as well as the dollar amount reported, was inaccurate, only a portion of the overall deal. Keep in mind, my past recordings have sold over 50,000,000 units worldwide, earning the label a tremendous amount of money (a fraction of which actually came to me).
Only a completely complicated set of traps, manipulations, and inequitable business arrangements could put someone who has accomplished the things that I have, financially in need of anything. I am one artist who finds value in openly discussing the dynamics within this industry that force artists to compromise or distort themselves and what they do, rather than allowing them to make the music that people need. There are volumes that could (and will) be said.“