Ms. Lauryn Hill makes a rare return to Rap, with power and perspective, on Nas’ ‘Nobody’
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 Rolling Stone 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 shit you do for popularity.”