Ms. Lauryn Hill reminded us exactly why she is the queen of Hip Hop and R&B from our youth. Promptly at 10:30 p.m. on May 12, Ms. Hill took the stage in San Francisco at The Warfield Theatre to deliver a set of heavily reggae-inspired tracks from her successful career. Dressed in a black bowler hat, white coat with goose feather detail, a thigh-length black sheer blouse, and flowing yellow bell bottoms, Ms. Hill stayed true to her 90s urban style. The diva opened the show with the Fugees hit “Ready or Not.”
Back in 1999, Ms. Hill was a street style icon donning wide leg pants and denim jackets with arm fulls of chunky gold bangles while sweeping the music award shows all year long. Save for a humbly released MTV Unplugged album in 2002, Ms. Hill all but vanished from the industry. Even in her absence, fifteen years later, she can still pack the house. From “Everything is Everything” to the guitar strumming “Oh, Jerusalem” from MTV Unplugged, the diva didn’t stop until the hits were finished.
Ms. Hill seemed to perform in a world all her own as she directed the six piece band and three backup singers, signaling them in and out with her own melodic vision. It felt as if the audience were a rowdy fly on the wall in Ms. Hill’s rehearsal studio. Several times she signaled the band to cease while the three backup ladies repeated some a capaella chorus continuously as Ms. Hill’s buttery ad libs swooped and soared. The concert climaxed during a ten minute rendition of the heartbreak anthem “Ex-Factor” from her eight-time platinum debut album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”
Every bit still the musical talent she’s known to be, Ms. Hill kicked off her white peep-toe platform pumps and bounced around the stage to hype up the crowd with “Fu-Gee-La” and “Final Hour” before seamlessly transitioning into her melodic versions of “Killing Me Softly” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.” After nearly a two hour set, Ms. Hill delivered her number one hit “Doo Wop (That Thing)” to close the show. She may have disappeared from the music spotlight, but her sense of style, both fashionably and musically, still touches me the way it did back in junior high school.
By Tony Taylor