Lauryn Hill, “Black Rage (Sketch)”

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 08.21.14 in Listen to This

“Don’t let them tell you who you are. Sometimes you are ahead of the curve. They don’t know what to do with you when you are ahead of the curve.” That was Lauryn Hill, speaking at the October 2012 show where she debuted “Black Rage” as a spoken-word piece (as quoted by the Dallas Observer). The lyrics subvert, in the grand tradition of John Coltrane, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things,” and in subsequent performances the song as a whole has become a jazzy, Jon Brion-like riff on the Sound of Music standard, as well.

Last night, Hill shared the song’s most powerful version yet, a stripped-down demo where you can hear children talking in the background between strummy acoustic guitar and electronic burbles. She implicitly dedicated the song to Ferguson, Missouri, writing: “An old sketch of Black Rage, done in my living room. Strange, the course of things. Peace for MO. – MLH.” The lyrics, which you can read on her website, begin, “Black rage is founded on two-thirds a person.”

She was ahead of the curve with this one.

Listen below.