Episode 4

The Spirit of Freedom

March 16, 2022

The Spirit of Freedom

Summary: A mixtape of Lauryn Hill songs that speak of freedom. From her personal emancipation to her freedom as black woman in the United States to the freedom she wants all of humanity to have. Krystal and Matt breakdown "I Get Out." And then we hear from Cona Marshall, Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, Eric House, Alex Nava, and OT The Goldn Child as they cover "Lost Ones," "Final Hour," "I Used to Love Him," "Oh Jerusalem," and "Freedom Time."

Timestamps:

  • Cona Marshall speaks about Lauryn Hill as the preacher. - 00:00
  • Krystal Roberts and Matt Linder discuss "I Get Out" from the "Unplugged" album. - 2:28
  • Cheryl Kirk-Duggan on "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" - 10:25
  • Eric House on "Lost Ones" - 14:28
  • Alex Nava on "Final Hour" - 22:17
  • Alex Nava on "I Used to Love Him" - 28:55
  • Otis Lambert on "Oh Jerusalem" - 33:12
  • Cheryl Kirk-Duggan on "Freedom Time" - 35:17

Hosts: Lauryn Hill researcher, Krystal Roberts, and Hip Hop scholar, Matt Linder.

Contributors: Cona Marshall, Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, Alex Nava, Eric House, and Otis Lambert aka OT The GoldN' Child.

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Logo design by @papercutprayers

Theme music by Julius Tunstall.

Additional music from fndguitar, Nabil Sioty, Venus Beatz, Beats by Hype, and brokebwoy.

Episode Transcript: https://share.descript.com/view/YI9ug6qtjOZ

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Transcript
Cona Marshall:

I'm talking about Lauryn as a religious rhetor, right?

Cona Marshall:

Like in the same way that people are preachers.

Cona Marshall:

So in that part, I'm talking about her and Dr.

Cona Marshall:

Ebony Marshall Turman about her preaching

Ebony Marshall Turman:

Hagar, an African slave woman.

Ebony Marshall Turman:

Hey, God reminds us that in the desert.

Ebony Marshall Turman:

It is only God.

Ebony Marshall Turman:

Shows us where the water

Cona Marshall:

and how Lauryn, right.

Cona Marshall:

How they're both evoke salvation.

Lauryn Hill:

I don't have a, an American dream.

Lauryn Hill:

I have a dream because my dream relates to the entire world, you

Lauryn Hill:

know, and to be honest with you, I mean, that is that the entire world,

Lauryn Hill:

you know, find, have salvation.

Lauryn Hill:

that the entire world have joy that the entire world?

Lauryn Hill:

Know God, and have peace and have his rest and his happiness, you know, for me to

Lauryn Hill:

limit that and say that that's an American dream, that would be far too limiting.

Lauryn Hill:

That's a dream for this entire world.

Cona Marshall:

That's their goal is for us to have liberation.

Cona Marshall:

And freedom.

Cona Marshall:

And that's what they're preaching from the pulpit and both male dominated spaces.

Cona Marshall:

We don't talk about women preaching black women aren't even allowed to preach.

Lauryn Hill:

You know, we ask ourselves, you know, how come

Lauryn Hill:

these things haven't been around.

Lauryn Hill:

Why was this thing not invented.

Lauryn Hill:

There was a reason they were forces that were set up to prevent, you

Lauryn Hill:

know, certain patterns of evolution, certain patterns of development, right?

Lauryn Hill:

All this, this, this, this street hustle, right?

Lauryn Hill:

It, it, it would have dominated it if it really had, you know, access early

Lauryn Hill:

on, which is why it was suppressed.

Lauryn Hill:

You know, I mean, which, which is why I was met with.

Lauryn Hill:

But we have the ability now to see the resistance, acknowledge it for

Lauryn Hill:

what it is and go beyond and go past

Krystal Roberts:

I'm Krystal Roberts.

Matt Linder:

I'm Matt Linder.

Krystal Roberts:

This is Flickers.

Krystal Roberts:

The spirit of freedom,

Krystal Roberts:

The theme of liberation and freedom has always been in Lauryn's music early on.

Krystal Roberts:

Those themes are more descriptive but also prescriptive, but by the

Krystal Roberts:

time we got to the unplugged album, those things became her reality.

Krystal Roberts:

She had taken her liberation into her own hands.

Krystal Roberts:

And prove to be both defiant and intent on establishing her personal freedom while at

Krystal Roberts:

the same time summoning us to do the same.

Lauryn Hill:

My husband's brother came by the house to

Lauryn Hill:

visit us one day, brother Ziggy.

Lauryn Hill:

And he, he was.

Lauryn Hill:

He was talking about a song of his called I get out.

Lauryn Hill:

And, uh, uh, it was so powerful the concept and what it meant to,

Lauryn Hill:

to me and what it meant for me.

Lauryn Hill:

He just said that phrase.

Lauryn Hill:

Can I get out of all your boxes and immediately I just say, that's

Lauryn Hill:

it, man, that's it right there.

Lauryn Hill:

And the next day I got in the shower and while I was in the

Lauryn Hill:

shower, three verses and the hook and all this stuff just came, but

Krystal Roberts:

I get out.

Krystal Roberts:

I get out is actually one of my favorite songs on the unplugged album,

Krystal Roberts:

because it was just so definitive.

Krystal Roberts:

It was a declaration of what was to come.

Krystal Roberts:

Right.

Krystal Roberts:

She's saying I get out and she got out.

Krystal Roberts:

I remember listening and thinking like, damn, I went out too, I was hyped.

Krystal Roberts:

I was most though, I guess, inspired by her saying if everything was go then go.

Krystal Roberts:

That's how I choose to live nameless, go and go that's how I choose live.

Krystal Roberts:

And I thank that statement in and of itself was like she was willing to make

Krystal Roberts:

the ultimate sacrifice for freedom to be whoever she wanted to be at that time,

Krystal Roberts:

and to also be free from the constraints, um, that was placed on her artistry.

Krystal Roberts:

So for me, that was just inspiring.

Krystal Roberts:

I literally told a friend that like, if everything must go, then

Krystal Roberts:

go, like I've got on the same.

Krystal Roberts:

I got on the same vibe.

Krystal Roberts:

So it was really, it was really cool, you know, and I always found her using, um,

Krystal Roberts:

the word boxes to be very powerful because usually boxes are constructed by others.

Krystal Roberts:

I mean, sometimes we will construct them oursevles but.

Krystal Roberts:

She at least expressed that those boxes were constructed by someone else.

Krystal Roberts:

And it's usually for the benefit of others.

Krystal Roberts:

And it was just simple.

Krystal Roberts:

Everybody can think of a box and understand what that means.

Krystal Roberts:

Um, so I really thought it was powerful, but it was just the perfect

Krystal Roberts:

imagery, um, for what has to happen to get free, which I understood it to

Krystal Roberts:

mean to be whole and to be complete.

Krystal Roberts:

And so to me, Like that signifies freedom.

Matt Linder:

Yeah.

Matt Linder:

Totally.

Matt Linder:

And as you were speaking about the box there, she talks about just

Matt Linder:

completely destroying this box.

Matt Linder:

It has, she's going to surrender herself to God's will where she

Matt Linder:

has that line, where she says, I don't respect your system.

Matt Linder:

I won't protect your system when you talk.

Matt Linder:

I don't listen.

Matt Linder:

Oh, let my father's will be done.

Matt Linder:

I don't respect your system, protect your system when you talk I don't listen oh

Matt Linder:

let my Father's will be done, which is powerful it's just like I'm turning down

Matt Linder:

this whole system that I've been given it.

Matt Linder:

Hip hop, being a woman in hip hop, being a woman in the world, all that

Matt Linder:

I've experienced as a black woman.

Matt Linder:

In the United States, like and capitalism in every system and ism that's out

Matt Linder:

there and she's saying no to, and she's like, I'm tearing it all down and I'm

Matt Linder:

surrounding myself to God's will instead.

Matt Linder:

And even like this song like starts out.

Matt Linder:

If she frames it as this spiritual battle, she says,

Matt Linder:

father free me from this bondage.

Matt Linder:

Father free me from this bond for her.

Matt Linder:

Again.

Matt Linder:

It's all about love.

Matt Linder:

She says, you say love, then it abuse me.

Matt Linder:

You say love and abuse me.

Matt Linder:

You never thought you lose me.

Matt Linder:

That's all the foundational thing is love.

Matt Linder:

But the situation she's gone through the world, she's experienced outside

Matt Linder:

of the loving home that she came in.

Matt Linder:

Uh, and when she went into the world, she just saw the abuse again from others.

Matt Linder:

Not only is she speaking about like getting free of this box and fighting

Matt Linder:

this spiritual battle of these systems, these systems that are boxes, even

Matt Linder:

with the whole unplugged performance, she's like breaking up the boxes.

Matt Linder:

And unplugged performance on MTV is like, cause you expect all the

Matt Linder:

other ones were like, oh, this is music from my other albums.

Matt Linder:

And this is all brand new songs.

Matt Linder:

These are just songs with just me and a guitar and I'm going

Matt Linder:

to mess up and that's okay.

Matt Linder:

And she does mess up, like right in the middle of this is like, of her mistakes.

Matt Linder:

You could say this is like her worst mistake of the songs she liked flubs up.

Matt Linder:

She forgets the lyrics.

Matt Linder:

She forgets the chord she's playing.

Matt Linder:

Okay.

Matt Linder:

We'll get mad.

Matt Linder:

at least I had a chunk and then she rolls back into the song and gets through it.

Matt Linder:

No,

Matt Linder:

but even that is like, I'm no longer beholden to this perfection

Matt Linder:

that you've wanted at me.

Matt Linder:

I'm laying it all out there.

Matt Linder:

You get to see all of me mistakes in all, and that's another way she's just

Matt Linder:

breaking out of that box to absolutely.

Krystal Roberts:

You know, the quotes from the lyrics that you just quoted.

Krystal Roberts:

It's just brought to mind that this song encapsulate what she mentioned earlier

Krystal Roberts:

on an album, when she said every song is about problem calls and solution,

Lauryn Hill:

all of these songs about this problem.

Lauryn Hill:

Cause, and solution.

Krystal Roberts:

And this one song gave us all of those things.

Krystal Roberts:

You know, she named all of the systems from the political system

Krystal Roberts:

to the social systems, the ones that were, that are the problem.

Krystal Roberts:

And she talks about the causes, you know, the lies, the manipulation

Krystal Roberts:

and those sorts of things.

Krystal Roberts:

And then the solution is get out and up until that, up until that song.

Krystal Roberts:

We had heard her talking about what she needed, like her solution.

Krystal Roberts:

And that was obviously to return to God and to return to herself,

Krystal Roberts:

which I think empowers her to get out of all those boxes.

Krystal Roberts:

we're going to take a look back and see how she got to this place of.

Krystal Roberts:

by exploring individual songs and starting with her only studio solo

Krystal Roberts:

album, the miseducation of Lauryn hill.

Krystal Roberts:

Here's Cheryl Kirk-Duggan

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

when you look at yeah.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Her work, then you have to deal with, what does it mean to be a human being?

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

So what is the ontology there?

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And also what does the existential element, what does

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

it mean to exist and to be.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And in addition to that, she really wants to press everybody to think

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

critically and to engage music and all of your life as a whole, rather than be

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

a fragmented person from an ecological standpoint, she thinks about the larger

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

world and wonders at what point, what happened to her own passion within

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

her life and for things that matter.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And that's another really healthy component for understanding

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

the freedom is that she is a freedom to think for herself.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And she admits when she's fallen.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And when she's failed from her own standards and in the past, she's

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

experienced times where she maximized her potential where she was the best

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

and where in community, she comes from a perspective of anthropological theology.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

In other words, yes, we are in conversation at all times with

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

God, God is in conversation with.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And we have to be responsible for our part.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

So you can never sort of disassociate yourself from responsibilities.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

So then it goes back to her other support, she knows the God within

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

as an individuated self itself.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

So she always wants us to be community.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

At the same time, you have to know who you are, whose you are, how are you

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

fortunate, what your responsibility and what should never succumb to the

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

thoughts of everyone else are to be.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Shall we say smothered by society and for herself, she has to respond and

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

engage in a sense of self actualization.

Lauryn Hill:

We have so many of the answers we have the technology,

Lauryn Hill:

we have the wealth, we just have to be willing to share it.

Lauryn Hill:

And in order for us to do that, we have to do the work in and on ourselves

Lauryn Hill:

so that we can be conduits of change and improvement for other people.

Lauryn Hill:

Cause that's really what it's about.

Lauryn Hill:

We have the ability.

Lauryn Hill:

We have to be in a position where we're willing to do that for others,

Lauryn Hill:

because we're so confident in our own abilities and our own grace and our

Lauryn Hill:

own blessings that we can actually pass knowledge and information on to others.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And therefore the answer to this education

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

for her is a heightened level of awareness and the reality that

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

she can defend her own destiny.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And that's all the way through the music.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Therefore, she would say that everyone is responsible and

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

accountable for their situation.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

She lives her own rhetoric and says, as she traveled about the

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

world, she came to realize that what distinguishes one child from another,

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

and this is from one of her quotes.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

It's not an ability, but access this access to education, access

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

to opportunity, access to love.

Lauryn Hill:

Before I became a recording artist, made music

Lauryn Hill:

videos or performed on stage one.

Lauryn Hill:

I was raised by parents who loved.

Lauryn Hill:

And who instilled in me a great love for education, those being loved and

Lauryn Hill:

loving to learn where the tools that would help to facilitate everything else.

Lauryn Hill:

Drive is a key component.

Lauryn Hill:

Passion is also a major foundational component.

Lauryn Hill:

If you want to be able to help design your own.

Lauryn Hill:

and with these education and a love for learning are essential.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And so she has this thing called the refugee

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

project, where she created these social programs for young people to

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

provide access to opportunities where they might not have been otherwise.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And so she's very very clear about access.

Lauryn Hill:

You know, I'm trying to broaden a hip hop parameters.

Lauryn Hill:

You know what I mean?

Lauryn Hill:

I'm trying to, you know, allow us to be more sensitive and talk about

Lauryn Hill:

real issues and, you know, express our feelings about relationships in

Lauryn Hill:

a realistic sense, as opposed to a material or, you know, a monetary,

Eric House:

I put it on miseducation.

Matt Linder:

This is Eric House

Eric House:

and Lost Ones came on and when when I first heard that, I forgot about

Eric House:

the, you know, like the initial, like.

Eric House:

Yeah.

Eric House:

I was like, oh yeah, I like this song.

Eric House:

And then like, when I heard the words, this is exactly what

Eric House:

I need to write about this.

Eric House:

Is it because I was at a space where I was committed to studying

Eric House:

hip hop for like my dissertation.

Eric House:

I wanted to think about ways in which we can use hip hop as this force to

Eric House:

study the complexities of language and the complexities of writing.

Eric House:

Shout out to a lot of my professors at U of a who.

Eric House:

We're heavy in emphasizing, uh, black women and indigenous and women of color

Eric House:

feminisms to really ask us to rethink about the ways in which oppression

Eric House:

is like these interlocking systems.

Eric House:

Right.

Eric House:

Initially I think I was always working through, it was like, how do we call out?

Eric House:

Like the inherent misogyny in hip hop?

Eric House:

I love hip hop.

Eric House:

I love R&B but I feel like a lot of times people say like, and

Eric House:

this is coming from a lot of.

Eric House:

Family members, women love R&B men love hip hop, and I'm like, but I love R&B.

Eric House:

And I went and I like hip hop too.

Eric House:

So like what are we saying?

Eric House:

And women don't rap.

Eric House:

What are you up?

Eric House:

What are y'all talking about?

Interview Clip:

Ask a female and see who they are influenced by every single

Interview Clip:

one of them is going to say Lauryn Hill.

Interview Clip:

She was so genuine, so true to herself.

Interview Clip:

Wow.

Interview Clip:

Lauryn Hill, my mama mama Lauryn Hill is in her own category when it comes to.

Interview Clip:

And when you listen to what she's talking about, which is why the miseducation

Interview Clip:

of Lauryn hill I think was just so.

Interview Clip:

Those are female issues.

Interview Clip:

Those are things that go through women's heads on a daily basis.

Interview Clip:

Here's another woman that speaking out to you, speaking for you,

Interview Clip:

speaking about you, and those are the things that you gravitate to.

Eric House:

And so it's trying to, trying to kind of reconcile these very gender

Eric House:

dynamics that a lot of people place on black music, specifically, my advisor

Eric House:

put me on to the work of a scholar in my field named Gwendoyln Pough.

Eric House:

Um, she has a book called "Check it While I Wreck It."

Gwendoyln Pough:

And then there's visiting family in the Caribbean

Gwendoyln Pough:

on vacations where hip hop also traveled and hip hop specifically in

Gwendoyln Pough:

those, um, geographic spaces always marked our culture as youth culture.

Gwendoyln Pough:

You know, this was ours, whereas Calypso and reggae was, are our grown folks music.

Eric House:

And she's basically making an argument about how black

Eric House:

women have historically used hip hop to speak back and to recreate

Eric House:

the public image for themselves.

Eric House:

And so it's a very dope piece where she's like talking about

Eric House:

how we've been doing this forever.

Eric House:

I mean, misogyny exists, but we historically have been apart.

Eric House:

We've been with hip hop since the beginning, and we've always found

Eric House:

spaces to speak truth to our own existences so that we can kind of control

Eric House:

our own public image and location.

Eric House:

And so after reading that, I think Lost Ones was, it just kinda came together the

Eric House:

way that I was like, oh, this is the song I need to write about because the message.

Eric House:

Is like, you might play some of them, but not this one.

Eric House:

I'm going to stand here.

Eric House:

I'm going to reclaim what's mine.

Eric House:

I'm not giving you credit for who I am.

Eric House:

This is me.

Eric House:

This is Lauryn Hill.

Eric House:

It's funny how money changes situations.

Eric House:

Miscommunication leads to complication.

Eric House:

I was going to humble.

Eric House:

You wonder

Eric House:

how to game the one, everything you did has a

Eric House:

It's a story about Wyclef but it's also.

Eric House:

Reflecting the larger hip hop.

Eric House:

Imaginary was both myself and my advisor.

Eric House:

That's why I wrote the piece.

Eric House:

We thought was very important to say.

Eric House:

And my thing was like, she was doing it in hip hop language, you know?

Eric House:

Yeah.

Eric House:

The boom-bap to start right away, you have this guitar that goes every now

Eric House:

and then that emphasizes what she's saying at the end of each line, as far

Eric House:

as justice and freedom is concerned.

Eric House:

I think that justice is speaking back and giving voice to her existence.

Eric House:

If there are these stories in these lines that this album came out, pre

Eric House:

social media rights up there, if there are these narratives and the stories

Eric House:

coming out, and both of these people are very prominent in music like that,

Eric House:

the Fugees are pretty big, right?

Eric House:

If there's these narratives going on, like, especially that this is

Eric House:

the first song on the album, like this is called the miseducation.

Eric House:

And when we you think miseducation.

Eric House:

You think of like unlearning and there's like recent conversations about

Eric House:

de coloniality and how we're trying to like reclaim the knowledges and

Eric House:

existences and experiences that so many forces have been trying to strip away.

Eric House:

So this is the first track on miseducation where the first thing

Eric House:

she's doing is saying like, I'm done with you, you know what I'm saying?

Eric House:

You cannot claim any like power over what I'm doing when she was wronged.

Eric House:

Now, how she described herself as being wronged in the story.

Eric House:

I think the justice is her saying.

Eric House:

Now, this is my album.

Eric House:

And its how I'm starting it by saying that

Lauryn Hill:

"The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" is, uh, you know, at first it kind

Lauryn Hill:

of throws people, you know what I mean?

Lauryn Hill:

Cause they automatically think it's about me.

Lauryn Hill:

I'm being miseducated, but miseducation is actually, it's like a metaphor

Lauryn Hill:

for actually being re-educated, um, unlearning some bad things, you know?

Lauryn Hill:

I mean, some things that I may have, um, perceived to be the

Lauryn Hill:

truth, you know what I mean?

Lauryn Hill:

They actually want.

Lauryn Hill:

Um, it really has a lot to do with personal evolution and personal growth

Lauryn Hill:

and really understanding that there are things that society teach us, which

Lauryn Hill:

are like general pieces of information, you know, just for the general public

Lauryn Hill:

and they have things that are extremely important for us to individually learn.

Lauryn Hill:

You know what I'm saying?

Lauryn Hill:

Um, just as far as just personal relationships presentations with

Lauryn Hill:

other people personally, with God, you know, just the way in

Lauryn Hill:

which we should live our lives.

Eric House:

And you might win some, but you just lost one.

Eric House:

Like you might win some, I think it's recognizing that this sort of behavior,

Eric House:

as far as like hyper-masculinity and misogyny might still happen in.

Eric House:

This one knows better.

Eric House:

This one is going to stand up in her own existence and she's going to speak on it.

Eric House:

That's the justice.

Eric House:

And that that listed a freedom too because I think that to me, freedom

Eric House:

means agency, which is to say freedom means you have the capacity to speak

Eric House:

towards read towards and wrigth towards your own existence and experiences.

Eric House:

And so I think that's why it's so important that that's how it started.

Eric House:

Is to say like one I'm calling up the wrongs you did to me, but the

Eric House:

freedom is now this is my space.

Eric House:

This is my album.

Eric House:

This is my message.

Eric House:

Miseducation song, taking back, all the stuff that was taught to me

Eric House:

that all the lies have been told to.

Lauryn Hill:

I'll tell you no big shots.

Lauryn Hill:

In reality, we all in the same boat dealing with the same

Lauryn Hill:

issues, same problems, same stuff.

Lauryn Hill:

Don't even buy all the perpetration, you know, all this.

Lauryn Hill:

Well, you know, We don't have problems.

Lauryn Hill:

That's a lie.

Lauryn Hill:

That's a lie.

Lauryn Hill:

You know, I know that the enemy is doing the same thing to me,

Lauryn Hill:

that he's doing to everybody else.

Lauryn Hill:

And I just know now that the only way to get out is through confrontation.

Lauryn Hill:

See, we always thought it was retreat, you know, runaway and I'm telling you that.

Eric House:

So I think that's how we kind of conceptualized of both

Eric House:

freedom and justice in that piece.

Eric House:

And in a lot of ways, Lauryn Hill to me, and that's not the way I read

Eric House:

that song and listen to that song.

Eric House:

She she's met of standing and metaphorically for black women

Eric House:

in the space of hip hop and how a very powerful act is the call-out

Eric House:

speak back to speak towards a new existence within the space of his.

Eric House:

And doing it in ways.

Eric House:

That's very dope.

Eric House:

[Lost Ones]

Krystal Roberts:

final hour.

Alex Nava:

think of like the final hour.

Krystal Roberts:

This is Alex Nava.

Alex Nava:

She saying keep your eyes on the final.

Alex Nava:

But she's also got one of my favorite lines in there because again, somebody

Alex Nava:

who's sympathetic to the tradition of liberation and black theology, where

Alex Nava:

she's got a line in there that I'm about to change the focus from the

Alex Nava:

richest to the brokest, focus from the richest and the focus to be because

Alex Nava:

she's saying like our society, is it.

Alex Nava:

We admired the rich and the powerful.

Alex Nava:

And in capitalist societies, we admire people, just, uh, the wealthy.

Alex Nava:

And I think it's part of the brilliance of hip hop is to shift

Alex Nava:

our attention to the disenfranchised to that more aligns to people in

Alex Nava:

the in barrios the ghettos people.

Alex Nava:

Aren't represented.

Alex Nava:

in mainstream society and media.

Alex Nava:

I'd love that in the nineties where she's like, we need to change the

Alex Nava:

focus like bad boy hit focusing on the rich and nice cars and the

Alex Nava:

clothing and the riches and the bling.

Lauryn Hill:

These black folks found this incredible music, you

Lauryn Hill:

know, that comes from a place of expression and how it gets co-opted

Lauryn Hill:

and commercialized and compromised.

Lauryn Hill:

You know, and, and bitten and, um, appropriated and taken.

Lauryn Hill:

And, you know, my struggle has always been to sort of prevent that from

Lauryn Hill:

happening sort of maintain the soul and everything that I could possibly do.

Lauryn Hill:

The reason why hip hop is such a strong voice was because, you know,

Lauryn Hill:

it was a defiant message for awhile.

Lauryn Hill:

You know, it was basically the voice of the voiceless.

Lauryn Hill:

Once you become sort of, you know, the voice of the corporate, you know,

Lauryn Hill:

you become a different creature,

Alex Nava:

but she's like, we need to look at listen to the

Alex Nava:

voices of the dispossessed of.

Alex Nava:

Um, the needy of the widows, the orphans, you know, she's got that.

Alex Nava:

Then that's where, of course that aspect of miseducation connects

Alex Nava:

to a long tradition of black history that is concerned with

Alex Nava:

the plight of the dispossessed.

Lauryn Hill:

Let me tell you why?

Lauryn Hill:

Because they're my brothers and my sisters pawns in a bigger

Lauryn Hill:

scheme under pressure attacked me.

Lauryn Hill:

I caught them still.

Lauryn Hill:

I'm not going to play my hand.

Lauryn Hill:

Like this oppressive system would have me play my hand.

Lauryn Hill:

The oppression that took place in Haiti.

Alex Nava:

My interest is in Latin American and African-American

Alex Nava:

religious traditions.

Alex Nava:

So my first book was on Gustavo Gutierrez, famous liberation,

Alex Nava:

theologian, a theology of liberation.

Gustavo Gutierrez:

I was used to being a minority when I wasn't.

Gustavo Gutierrez:

Because it has nothing to do with race.

Gustavo Gutierrez:

I got to do with with religion.

Gustavo Gutierrez:

And then when I came to this country and I found out that I also wasn't minority

Gustavo Gutierrez:

now, in another sense, uh, I somehow transfer that and be able to say, well,

Gustavo Gutierrez:

this is who I am, and I can claim that.

Alex Nava:

So we're living in a time where I think people

Alex Nava:

are wanting to recover that.

Alex Nava:

In fact another example of this is that for all period of time, I would say the

Alex Nava:

late nineties and early two thousands, the concept of liberation became,

Alex Nava:

played out like liberation is done.

Alex Nava:

Like it's it, wasn't a popular theme.

Alex Nava:

In fact, you could probably do a study in this of looking at the

Alex Nava:

term liberation and it's starting to it's come back for a while.

Alex Nava:

There was a feeling that it had its day liberation, the sixties and

Alex Nava:

seventies where even parts of the eighties where aspect people were

Alex Nava:

appealing, to liberation but it's done.

Alex Nava:

It's, it's exhausted.

Alex Nava:

It's tired.

Alex Nava:

And I think that it's suddenly made a come back.

Alex Nava:

Again.

Alex Nava:

I think Kendrick Lamar's influence think his mix tapes

Alex Nava:

were coming out around 20 10, 20.

Alex Nava:

I think section 80 was around that 20 level and then his remarkable

Alex Nava:

rise, I mean, kind of bringing.

Alex Nava:

That spirit back [Section 80] then of course, again,

Alex Nava:

Everything that's transpired since the death of George Floyd.

Alex Nava:

I used to love him.

Alex Nava:

I think that her emphasis in general, again, from something like lost

Alex Nava:

ones the whole idea ear, just the concept of emancipation as a black

Alex Nava:

woman is revolutionary in itself.

Alex Nava:

That really she's really kind of putting herself for us in miseducation.

Alex Nava:

A gifted MC as somebody to be taken serious as a lyricist, as, as a

Alex Nava:

poet, as a singer, as an artist,

Lauryn Hill:

you know, this, this thing, we term it hustle, but it's really just

Lauryn Hill:

the ingenuity necessary to survive, you know, and navigate in the world.

Lauryn Hill:

We call it hustle because, um, I imagine that's just, you know, our

Lauryn Hill:

way of giving it a name because sometimes we want to divorce ourselves.

Lauryn Hill:

From the academic space because that academic space was a source of

Lauryn Hill:

brutality and hostility for a long time.

Lauryn Hill:

But the reality of it is still of it is, is it still wisdom is still knowledge.

Lauryn Hill:

It's still inventing.

Lauryn Hill:

It's still development, you know, and it's still progress.

Lauryn Hill:

So I think as we kind of pull back these labels, we can acknowledge

Lauryn Hill:

brilliance in the streets.

Lauryn Hill:

We can knowledge soul in the academic space and we can allow

Lauryn Hill:

these things to come together.

Alex Nava:

She's talking about the question of loves in

Alex Nava:

particular, or I used to love him.

Alex Nava:

One of those where she really is talking about the experience of

Alex Nava:

love and in particular, the line.

Alex Nava:

I am not foolish.

Alex Nava:

Man's wife.

Alex Nava:

it's clear that she's kind of like has.

Alex Nava:

The strong sensibility of strong, like feminist self-awareness.

Alex Nava:

I mean, she was of course beautiful at the same time.

Alex Nava:

Joan Morgan makes, makes that quite is that she has very strong consciousness,

Alex Nava:

a strong feminine consciousness, but also celebrates her feminine

Alex Nava:

beauty and the way she dressed in many of the videos, it wasn't.

Alex Nava:

Sexualizing her.

Alex Nava:

So it was different than other MCs at the time where, you know, she

Alex Nava:

refused to like, obviously the word.

Alex Nava:

The dramatic difference.

Alex Nava:

If somebody like little Kim who really sold herself, her sexuality [Lil' Kim]

Alex Nava:

she was different from that, but nevertheless, feminine and beautiful,

Alex Nava:

but again, with an edge to.

Alex Nava:

I think a lot of that, even in those moments where she's talking about the

Alex Nava:

experience of love, I'm not just being a foolish man's wife, that she's clearly

Alex Nava:

kind of expressing a very strong opinion now self-awareness and self-confidence,

Lauryn Hill:

uh, I don't like this new expression and I say, well, what you

Lauryn Hill:

want two thirds of me to stay outside?

Lauryn Hill:

I'm a whole person.

Lauryn Hill:

You can't say.

Lauryn Hill:

Two-thirds of Lauryn come in here.

Lauryn Hill:

Only two thirds is acceptable.

Lauryn Hill:

I'm a whole person, you know, and that's everybody.

Lauryn Hill:

We always talk about spiritual warfare.

Lauryn Hill:

We didn't realize it was, it was within relationships..

Lauryn Hill:

It's emotional warfare.

Lauryn Hill:

Being able to tell the people we love the most, the truth about ourselves.

Lauryn Hill:

And when they say, Hey, that doesn't fit into our box for you.

Lauryn Hill:

And we say, well, I ain't in no box.

Krystal Roberts:

Oh Jerusalem and Freedom Time.

Otis Lambert:

I would say two-fold it was things of justice and you have some

Otis Lambert:

maybe themes of spirituality and whatnot,

Krystal Roberts:

This is Otis Lambert

Krystal Roberts:

Oh Jerusalem, you know, that's definitely one that.

Krystal Roberts:

Spiritual themes and whatnot, and that, you know, old wretched man

Krystal Roberts:

that I am, who will deliver me.

Krystal Roberts:

So the body of this death, can I even factor that I've been an actor

Krystal Roberts:

Recognizing again, speaking about how she had to get away from

Krystal Roberts:

the game and whatnot kind of recognizing their mabye who she was.

Krystal Roberts:

It was just a, I don't want to use the word fraud, but you know, I imagine

Krystal Roberts:

the industry has to be a burden.

Krystal Roberts:

It's so much glitz and glamor and whatnot.

Krystal Roberts:

And when you're someone like her, you know, who had to kind of step

Krystal Roberts:

away and now you take a look at your.

Krystal Roberts:

Maybe you do recognize that, you know, that what you were was more so along

Krystal Roberts:

the lines of just, uh, a facade or some sense of falsity in who you were.

Krystal Roberts:

And now who you're trying to be.

Lauryn Hill:

I had created this, uh, public persona is public illusion

Lauryn Hill:

and it became, it held me hostage.

Lauryn Hill:

Like I couldn't be a real person because you're too afraid of, you

Lauryn Hill:

know, of what your public will say.

Lauryn Hill:

And at that point I just had, I had to do some dying and really

Lauryn Hill:

accept the fact that, look, this is.

Lauryn Hill:

And I have to be who I am and all of us have a right to be who we are.

Lauryn Hill:

And whenever we submit our will, because I will, as a gift is given to us whenever we

Lauryn Hill:

submit our will to someone else's opinion, you know, I mean, a part of us dies.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

I thought about freedom and justice and the love

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

I came up with a lot of A words,

Krystal Roberts:

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

well, I would argue listening at especially miseducation and.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Her song To Zion and also have freedom within that for Hill

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

freedom, means and experience of agency, authenticity, autonomy.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And once through her own authority, thorough just through

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

agency, I can speak for myself.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

I can do for myself.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Authenticity.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

I'm going to be the real me, the me God created.

Lauryn Hill:

It's not that I strive to be a positive role model,

Lauryn Hill:

but I just striver to be myself.

Lauryn Hill:

You know what I'm saying?

Lauryn Hill:

And I'm not really doing this to please anyone, but God, you know, and, um,

Lauryn Hill:

sometimes, you know, when you choose a side, particularly God's side and you

Lauryn Hill:

automatically will have any reason, or you automatically have opponents people

Lauryn Hill:

who would rather see you fall and rise, you know, so you have to be careful.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Autonomy.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

I am family.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Because family's here important to her at the same time.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

I'm an individual and authority that she has certain power.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

So for example, in her song, freedom time, she offers a Clarion

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

call for freedom from a conflicted imprisoned mind, imprisoned to lies,

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

deception, and guilt [Freedom Time]

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

we understand that everything originates in our thoughts, and

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

then we create our feelings.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And many times in society, people think we give something, then we'll think

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

about it and know she would argue that I've seen several, other places can

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

say we think, and after we have that.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Then we feel So we think so feel bad, or I think I'm not good or depressed,

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

then the feelings of feeling bad or depression or guilt come about.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

She understands that everything originates in our thoughts, and then we create

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

our feelings Hill would also argue that biased, ideologies and fragmentation

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

caused us to adapt and therefore conform to religious thought and moral inspection.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And lies resulted in a pandemic global systemic depraved distortion.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

I mean listen, it sounded she could have written that in the middle of COVID.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Is that what has been fascinating to me, how timeless these songs are?

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

I mean, what, which I work late.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

So all the time, again, this is where freedom is connected to.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

What does it mean to be created in God's image?

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

What does it mean to be an authentic.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And she then says that the delusion creates this seat,

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

incompletion and desperation that requires a purging of the heart

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

[Freedom Time]

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

and so many people would say when she talks about deceit and

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

incompletion and desperation.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

You saw that manifested in the insurrection at the

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

capital in January 6th.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

that is exactly what that was.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Fear-based deceit.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

That's what it was.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Okay.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Where else is she going to like, oh, we need to go to the

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Hebrew Bible old Testament.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Look in Ecclesiastes.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

As the Ecclesiastes says vanity, everything is vanity.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And so Lauryn is saying that vanity leads to insanity and

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

such insantiy violates love.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And we do not repent.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

There is no remission or forgiveness.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

So there, and again, there's a sense of Christianity,

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

[Freedom Time]

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

we have to give.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And then our, I wish you would say you have to live out

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

that forgiveness by your ex.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

So you can't just talk the talke and you have to walk the walk as it.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And she goes further, say all is down.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

If we are not in line with creation with God and human freedom, stand

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

in agreement with his command.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

[Freedom Time]

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

She would say love is about, again, my a words, affirmation,

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

admiration, and appreciation.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

So when you look, think about the Miseducation, others

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

songs, she affirms humanity.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

She affirms herself, her parents.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

When you look at her life, she's always affirming people.

Lauryn Hill:

Remember we receive what we put out, what you do for others,

Lauryn Hill:

you in essence, do for yourselves.

Lauryn Hill:

Likewise, what you have not mastered doing for yourself, you will

Lauryn Hill:

be challenged to do for others.

Lauryn Hill:

They love yourself.

Lauryn Hill:

Care for yourselves, invest in yourselves and be kind to yourselves

Lauryn Hill:

so that you might be able to be channeled and instruments of love, care,

Lauryn Hill:

kindness, and investment in others.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Appreciate.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

So they are an even and she's after lowest even, as she feels betrayed,

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

she affirms our loves herself and is very grateful for that.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Also add gratitude and have to find a word for gratitude.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

That's very much a part of her sense of love.

Lauryn Hill:

Now I realized that this song is all about freedom.

Lauryn Hill:

You see, we, we could look at, uh, you know, one human being, but it's

Lauryn Hill:

about the spirit of freedom being.

Lauryn Hill:

And how it's taken out in all of us, you know, and this song is called.

About the Podcast

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Flickers
Thematic explorations of the spiritual in music.

About your hosts

Profile picture for Krystal Roberts

Krystal Roberts

I'm Krystal. I'm in love with language, artistic expression, and opportunities to learn and grow while helping others do the same. I've been a spoken word artist, graduated from art school, published poetry in Educational Psychology, deeply pondered and written about Lauryn Hill, taught college freshmen how to write, and worked in corporate America on and off for the last 17 years to put my business degree to use. It's been a journey. Fun. Scary. Dark. Exhilarating. Confusing. In short, it's been everything.
Profile picture for Matthew Linder

Matthew Linder

I'm Matt. I am obsessed with music and especially hip hop. I love exploring the intersections of race and religion in rap. I have a Masters in Music History and Literature and I have several published academic articles exploring musicians such as Lauryn Hill, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, and early Christian Hip Hop pioneers, Gospel Gangstaz. I also do work as a freelance podcast producer/editor, co-producing Christianity Today's Quick to Listen podcast with Morgan Lee, and worked as a podcast engineer/editor for We Wonder, The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, and Prayer Amid Pandemic. The latter podcast won a first-place award from the Evangelical Press Association.