The incomparable Lauren Hill is back. She is back in full force with a verse for the decade. She is back with a vengeance and with elegance as she takes a verse and splendidly displays it over a 2021 hip-hop song. The fire of her delivery and the blessing of her compassion is what drives the verse from beginning to end.
I can believe that some people thought she was done. They counted her out. Hip-hop music lovers, especially those of us who grew up in the culture, will always hope for a divine carving of crafty raps from Ms. Hill. She has gained our respect; she has turned hip-hop heads into lovers of the music even more because of her melodic voice and her swift, savvy way of spitting raps.
2021 should be the Year of the Black Woman. It should be the year where we undoubtedly welcomed the strength, power, and wisdom of Black women touch us in the deepest ways. I let that happen to me when I heard her verse for the second time. The first time I heard it I was gleefully celebrating her return to grammatical glory.
If you haven’t heard the verse, here it is in text for you to digest:
“All my time has been focused on my freedom now
Why would I join ’em when I know that I can beat ’em now?
They put their words on me, and they can eat ’em now
That’s probably why they keep on tellin’ me I’m needed now
They tried to box me out while takin’ what they want from me
I spent too many years living too uncomfortably
Making room for people who didn’t like the labor
Or wanted the spoils, greedy, selfish behavior
Now let me give it to you balanced and with clarity
I don’t need to turn myself into a parody
I don’t, I don’t do the shit you do for popularity
They clearly didn’t understand when I said “I Get Out” apparently
My awareness like Keanu in The Matrix
I’m savin’ souls and y’all complainin’ ‘bout my lateness
Now it’s illegal for someone to walk in greatness
They want the same shh, but they don’t take risks
Now the world will get to see it’s own reflection
And the anointed can pursue their own direction
And if you’re wrong and you’re too proud to hear correction
Walk into the hole you dug yourself, fuck a projection
See me in my freedom taking all my land back
They sent a lot against me thinking I’d just stand back
I got my legs beneath me, I got my hands back
A lot of people sabotaged, they couldn’t stand that
I turned the other cheek, I took blow after blow
There’s so much crisis in the world ’cause you reap what you sow
When you keep what you know is meant for someone else
The ditch you dig for them, you might just end up in yourself
I’m in the secret place, I keep a sacred space
They keep showin’ their hands, but keep hidin’ their face
If I’m a messenger, you block me then you block the message
So aggressive, the world you made is what you’re left with
Pride and ego over love and truth is fucking reckless
Y’all niggas got a death wish, the stupid leaves me breathless”
If rap music needs revitalization. If rap music needs profound feminine energy to balance all of the bravado or the raunchy, sexual rap lyrics out there, let Lauren Hill’s presence on the track called “Nobody” by Nas featuring Lauren be that. With her convictions, her climbing to the mountain top to see all of the wrongs done unto her and all of the talking about “late shows” and all of that culminates with this amazing rhyme.
It is church for me. It is a sermon I enjoy every time I am playing the song. I am all for what she shared, even if some do not consider it popular or if they feel she is aiming at them. Her verse is a mirror for others to look into and think about, especially if it is the trappings, sexism, capitalism, and unyielding expectations of the music industry.
Will she bless us with another verse, another feature? For me, that is not even an issue. I am happy she came back with all of what she expressed in her poetic and real return. I can savor the moment. I can say thank you, Lauren! I can say welcome back! I can say your verse is inspirational. Your verse will touch many. It will help others say similar things that are in their hearts. It is that kind of wisdom and righteousness we need in our music in my opinion.