Earlier this month, Grammy Award-winning artist Robert Glasper, a jazz pianist and producer, blasted Hill while discussing famous musicians he’d worked with during an interview with radio station 97.9 The Box in Houston.
Most notably, Glasper said the hip-hop songstress stole songs featured on her critically-acclaimed, Grammy-winning 1998 solo album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”
Glasper claimed these songs were written by “great” musicians and producers he knows personally and who never received credit for their contributions. He added that he later worked a gig with Hill in 2008 with the mindset that “OK, you stole music.”
Hill responded to Glasper’s claims in a heated essay on Medium Monday, defending her creative process and work ethic.
“I’m confused as to why such a principled musician, who thought I ‘stole’ from his friends, would show up to work for me anyway,” Hill wrote.
“Who are you to say I didn’t do enough? Most people are probably just hearing your name for the first time because you dropped MINE in an interview, controversially. Taking nothing away from your talent, but this is a fact.”
Addressing collaborations with other musicians during the creation of her solo album, Hill wrote:
“You may be able to make suggestions, but you can’t write FOR me. I am the architect of my creative expression. No decisions are made without me.”
She also noted that “Miseducation” was her first time working with artists outside of the Fugees, the ’90s hip-hop group that propelled her into fame. Because of this, Hill said, she “may not have established the necessary boundaries and may have been more inviting than I should have been … I may have been inclusive, but these are my songs.”
In 1998, a group of musicians who worked on “Miseducation” — known collectively as New Ark — sued Hill and her label, claiming she’d “used their songs and production skills but failed to properly credit them for the work.” They asked for partial writing credit on 13 of the album’s 14 songs. The suit was settled out of court in 2001.
During his interview, Glasper also said that he was surprised by how difficult it was to work with Hill in 2008, when he played in her band for a 20-minute show. He claimed she mistreated musicians, including himself, and had strange rules for the people working with her, such as forbidding them from looking her in the eyes and requiring that they address her as “Miss Hill.”
Glasper also shared a lengthy anecdote about how Hill had attempted to cut his and the rest of the hired band’s pay in half at the last second.
“You haven’t done enough to be the way you are,” Glasper said during the interview, referring to Hill. “You just have not. The one thing you did that was great, you didn’t do.”
In her Medium essay, Hill says she has “no recollection” of cutting the bands’ pay at the time, but that she would “never just cut a musician’s pay arbitrarily unless I had a legitimate reason.”
She also highlighted the artistic pressure she felt and still feels as a solo artist.
“No matter how incredible the musicians who play with me are, MY name is on the marquee,” she continued. “The expectation to make it all come together is on me. The risk and the financial losses are on me. Hence, MY VIBE, though not the only consideration, is the priority.”
Hill also addressed Glasper’s claim that she can’t tune a guitar, described her stance on racial justice and explained her late arrival for live performances. To read her essay in full, check it out on Medium.