Ms. Lauryn Hill Makes a Rare Return to Rap, With Power and Perspective, on Nas’ ‘Nobody’

Nas, Lauryn Hill are posing for a picture

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Provided by Rolling Stone song you need to know

syntkOn King’s Disease IINas enlists a

respectable collection of guests from across

generations, including Gap Band legend Charlie

Wilson, early-2000s rap sensation Eminem, laid-

back golden-agers EPMD, and hip-hop newcomer

Blxst. The highlight, though, is his reunion with

Ms. Lauryn Hill, his co-star on 1996’s classic “If I

Ruled the World (Imagine That).” Together, on the

mid-album cut “Nobody,” she and Nas take their

place as elders offering advice and perspective

from above the game, not within it.

 

Nas ends the song assuring listeners that he and

Ms. Hill are here to stay, but he spends much of his

time fantasizing about escaping tedious

mundanities like untouchable Instagram honeys,

the greater pressure of real romance, and the real

danger of bigoted police. He settles in his ability to

whisk himself away from life’s stressors: “If

Chappelle moved to Ghana to find his peace, then

I’m rollin’/Where the service always roamin’/I’m

packin’ my bags and goin’.”

 

Ms. Lauryn Hill has been enjoying just such an

escape, but here she makes a return to rap with a

subdued vengeance. “They sent a lot against me,

thinking I’d just stand back/I got my legs beneath

me, I got my hands back,” she says ominously.

 

In January, Hill told sources that she retreated

from public life about 20 years ago because she

found that the ways she defied convention left

her treated like a troublemaker instead of an

innovator. After the huge success of her 1998 solo

debut, she felt unsupported and pressured to

create in ways that weren’t natural to her. “I

sacrificed the quality of my life to help people

experience something that had been unreachable

before then,” she said. “When I saw people

struggle to appreciate what that took, I had to pull

back and make sure I and my family were safe and

good. I’m still doing that.”

 

Hill manages an impossible balance of fierce

memory and unbotheredness on “Nobody.” She

was a sage voice in music from the beginning, but

with Nas she absolutely levitates above the rap

game, offering the learned vantage point of

someone who has reached its mountaintop after a

treacherous hike up. “Now let me give it to you

balanced and with clarity,” she offers early on. “I

don’t need to turn myself into a parody/I don’t do

the s*** you do for popularity.” Ms. Hill hasn’t lost

a step thanks to Nas.

 

Source: Tyshawn Smith

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