New Lauryn Hill material has been making its way into singles and live performances over the past few years, among them the battle-cry "Fearless Vampire Killer" that appeared on tour in 2012 and a cover of Burt Bachrach and Hal David’s "Close to You" with Ronald Isley of the Isley Brothers. But Hill hasn’t released an album of new material in more than a decade, and it’s been about 15 years since the world was first introduced to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, one of the most perfect albums of the later half of the 20th century.
But a new Lauryn Hill album seems to be on the way, following reports of a new $1 million deal with Sony which will help her launch her own label, Observe Creation Music, and the release of a new rapid-fire single, "Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix)." Hill wrote that she was "required" to release the single now on the heels of her Sony deal and needing to pay restitution following her pleading guilty to tax evasion, and yeah, the whole situation isn’t exactly ideal for releasing new music. As she explains on her Tumblr:
"Here is a link to a piece that I was ‘required’ to release immediately, by virtue of the impending legal deadline. I love being able to reach people directly, but in an ideal scenario, I would not have to rush the release of new music… but the message is still there. In light of Wednesday’s tragic loss (of former label mate Chris Kelly), I am even more pressed to YELL this to a multitude that may not understand the cost of allowing today’s unhealthy paradigms to remain unchecked!"
Regardless of the requirement or the legal battle surrounding her, Hill’s new track is as urgent and incisive as her music has ever been, a sped-up series of social critiques set to a fluttering beat. Images of Bobby Darin and James Dean sit alongside "fuel cycle pharaohs" and "hypocritics on salary," and everyone, including you and me, gets called out: "It’s like post-war / they looking for the commenters or who the Marxes is / Ten thousand pictures on Facebook / it’s like the pot callin’ the kettle narcissist / come on really, sayin’ it’s the devil, but you’re the chief arsonist." But don’t take our word on whether or not it means more good things to come, because as Hill says, "Opinions are like assholes, and most of ’em stink." Listen below.