Lauryn Hill re-emerged this week at the Bowery Ballroom on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter-rapper made it clear that, despite all that she’s been through, she’s still one of the most captivating performers of her generation. The star spent four months of this year in prison for tax evasion, but she performed an exuberant and enthusiastic two-hour set that featured her acclaimed late 90’s solo hits as well as several nods to her beloved-but-short-lived group, The Fugees.
Stating that, “[Fans] wouldn’t want me to just, like a robot, do the same thing every night,” Hill reinterpreted many of her classic tunes–re-imagining her pop, R&B and hip-hop hits as funk, rock and reggae songs. The tracks from her multiplatinum solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill were especially well-received, and her Fugees tributes made it clear that, while a reunion likely won’t happen any time soon, she’s not bitter about her time in that band.
Hill also performed her two most recent tracks, “Consumerism” and “Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix),” and there was a special appearance from former Fugees’ bassist Jerry Duplessis. Also, L-Boogie’s son Joshua read some new raps from an iPhone.
Hill signed a new record deal with Sony Music just before the start of her prison term, and she’s said that she’s hard at work on a new full-length album. If her performances are any indicator, she may be sincerely on the comeback trail this time. And if the music is strong, the world will welcome her back with open arms.