Verse Of The Week: Lauryn Hill
It’s officially the last week of 2009, making this week’s article not only the verse of the week, but the last verse for the entire year. We’ll end things on a good note with a ferocious emcee who needs no introduction. She taught us countless lessons with her Miseducation and we have awaited her full return ever since.
After the hugely successful solo album by Lauryn Hill, we listened and anticipated… and listened and anticipated. Regardless of the fiend-like fervor with which we waited for another album by the artist formerly known as L-Boogie, we got no response.
Just when it seemed that the famous female member of The Fugees had forgotten about us, she returned.
However, Ms. Hill was not exactly as we remembered her. She seemed troubled, combative, and even a tad disoriented as she brought us MTV Unplugged 2.0. Her vocals – which had once been so confident, soulful, and organic – now seemed strained and forced. Regardless of her changed demeanor, less upbeat performing style, and range-exceeding melodies, she still had a lot to say.
No song made this more clear than the Grammy-nominated “Mystery Of Iniquity.” You may recognize this song as the sample from which Kanye West crafted the chorus of “All Falls Down” (of course, he replaced Hill with Syleena Johnson because the sample had not been cleared).
In this record, Lauryn Hill is in a one-woman war against our legal system, our government, and American consciousness. By the time she’s done, the mystery is solved.
Much like last week’s verse, this song is one continuous verse with no breaks. Thus, I merely present an excerpt from Lauryn Hill’s Mystery of Iniquity.
“The Revolving Door
Insanity every floor
Skyscraping, paper chasing
What are we working for?
Reaching social positions
Teaching ambition to support the family superstition?
When the Son of Perdition is Commander in Chief
The standard is Thief
Brethren can we candidly speak?
Woe to the men
Trusting in the chariots dem’
Leaning on horses
They run their intellectual sources
Counterfeit wisdom creating the illusion of freedom
Confusion consumes them
Every word they speak it turns them outwardly white
Internally they absent of light
trapped in the night and bonded to the Cain of the night
Under the curse
Evil men waxing more worse
Faxing the first
Angelic being cast to the earth
It’s time for rebirth
Burnin up the branch and the root
The empty pursuits of every tree bearing the wrong fruit
Turn AND BE HEALED
Let him who stole, no longer steal
Surrender for Jehovah is real
How long will you sleep
Troubled by the thoughts that YOU keep
The idols YOU heap
Causing the destruction you reap”
Ms. Hill starts the verse by referring to the lifestyle most of us know as the “rat race” as the revolving door. We’re out of our minds, she says, as she chronicles our endless pursuit of wealth and status. She asks us what we are working for. Is it because this type of life has become the norm? Status? Do we seek to continue to teach others to be ambitious and to believe in and place our trust in money?
Next, Ms. Hill refers to the Son of Perdition. This is a biblical reference (as is the title) to 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10, usually interpreted as another name for the Antichrist. She says that the Son of Perdition is Commander in Chief, or that the president is the Antichrist. George Bush was the president at the time this song was performed, so there is an argument that she wrote about him. I think she was making a more generic statement about the fact that corrupt leadership cannot produce anything other than a corrupt nation.
She predicts woe upon them who trust in and depend on the “chariots,” or instruments/devices of the government. They create false wisdom and knowledge and perpetrate it as true, creating an illusion of freedom and democracy where it does not truly exist. Their words give them the outward appearance of purity, while inside they are devoid of it and are actually trapped in darkness.
She makes another biblical reference by saying that those who are deceived are bonded to the Cain of the night. Of course, this is Cain, the brother and murderer of Abel. Cain was cursed by God for his crime and Ms. Hill says that if we refuse to open our eyes, we will remain cursed as well.
She goes on to say that evil men are getting even worse than before, and that they are in direct communication with Satan.
From there, she begins to tell us how to fix the problem and reverse the curse, saying that we must be mentally and spiritually reborn. She also says that we must destroy everything that leads to an empty or corrupt harvest. We must repent and seek healing for ourselves, and turn from the deeds which led us to this place.
She calls for Israel (us) to surrender, using a clever pun to say to us that God (and judgement) is real. She tells us that we are not yet awake, but that we must soon awaken and realize that our thoughts and idols make us the creators of our own destruction.
I could go on further, but there is absolutely no way for me to do this verse any true justice. Instead, check out the video of her Unplugged performance.
As one of the most talented, meaningful, and important artists of our time, I am holding out hope that Lauryn Hill will return to us in a large-scale comeback in 2010.
Main Image: JoJoGlobal