Lauryn Hill was always something of industry rebel, refusing to accept the sexual artistic visa many female artists are expected to use as they climb their way up to the top of the music charts.
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The eight-time Grammy winner’s 1990s rise to stardom revealed as much.
Her long, flowing locks, impeccable brown skin tone, non-revealing attire, bohemian tonality, coupled with her reggae-infused lyrical flow revolutionized image of the modern female MC.
Though a new, less alluring mugshot of the ex-fugees member that was released on Monday by the United States Marshals Service resembled nothing of the 23-year-old woman who took the hip hop world by storm with her 1998 classic album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
The new photo, which was taken on June 29 after she plead guilty to tax evasion, shows a worn, stoic version of her former self. Hill’s once vibrate face and is now withdrawn and troubled.
Though she admitted to purposefully not paying taxes, it is hard to picture Hill as a criminal. But that is exactly how she is viewed through the eyes of Uncle Sam’s laws that she deliberately broke for more than three years.
In June, she plead guilty to three counts of failure to file tax returns for the years 2005, 2006, and 2007 during which she earned more than $1.8 million. Hill will be sentenced in late November.
On her Tumblr page back in June, Hill published a Wesley Snipe-esqe post detailing why she refused to do what every other American must do each year: pay taxes.
Part of her explanation behind why she refused to pay her do to the government is provided here:
“For the past several years, I have remained what others would consider underground. I did this in order to build a community of people, like-minded in their desire for freedom and the right to pursue their goals and lives without being manipulated and controlled by a media protected military industrial complex with a completely different agenda. Having put the lives and needs of other people before my own for multiple years, and having made hundreds of millions of dollars for certain institutions, under complex and sometimes severe circumstances, I began to require growth and more equitable treatment, but was met with resistance.
As my potential to work, and therefore earn freely, was being threatened, I did whatever needed to be done in order to insulate my family from the climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism that I was surrounded by. This was absolutely critical while trying to find and establish a new and very necessary community of healthy people, and also heal and detoxify myself and my family while raising my young children.
It was an unfortunate use of prose. The post did not mention specifically who or what was hindering her from making an income freely, nor did it mention whether or not she had the money to pay. (By all reported accounts, she did–at least some of it)
But, TMZ reports that when a federal judge asked her on June 29 if she “intentionally and willingly” failed to file the returns, she replied, “Yes.” Her one-word confession, under oath, doesn’t reveal any indication of fear. It shows financial escapism. Like her mugshot, it reveals criminal culpability.
It is the anti-thesis of the 23-year-old Hill whose debut solo album took on “media protected military industrial complex,” “racial prejudice” and “sexism” she now conveniently blames for not exercising her civic financial duties.
Though, one hopes that Hill is able to rebound from this experience and find a new voice to help her take on the forces she says have entrapped her musical vitality and familial security. For it was her public, lyrical defiance of the status quo that seems to have kept her free and protected during her musical heyday.
Her silence and retreat, on the other hand, have lead her to possibly an even more severe “climate of hostility”: a prison cell block.