I became a big fan of Lauryn Hill's music when she released in 1998 the multiplatinum smash CD The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It earned her ten Grammy nominations, of which she took home five of them. Hill also garnered lots of critical acclaim and accolades off her monster debut solo album.
Since then she's been on the Sade CD release schedule. While she's popped up at various events to perform since 1998 and is always rumored to be writing songs or planning to release new music, a new CD full of music hasn't happened yet.
She released a song May 4 (my birthday) entitled 'Neurotic Society' (Compulsory Mix) that put her back in the musical spotlight for the wrong reason. I ain't feeling because it has some questionable lyrics that appear to be slamming the trans* and SGL community
Commerce and girl men
Run the whole world men
Bold, drunken debauchery
Old world brutality
Cold world killed softly
Whole world run savagely
Greedy men and pride fiends
Program TV screens
Quick scam and drag queens
Real likely to blast fiends
The TERF's probably have it on their iPod playlists now and will be singing it at their next hate confab if they can find a place to host it.
The song and its lyrics have her longtime fans like me going WTF and has triggered mounting criticism from inside and outside the trans* and SGL community. It also didn't help that Hill spent three months in Club Fed and didn't address the issue before she went in to serve that tax evasion sentence.
Now that she's out, she's claiming in a Tumblr post she wasn't attacking the TBLG community when she wrote this song.
“Neurotic Society is a song about people not being, or not being able to be, who and what they truly are, due to the current social construct. I am not targeting any particular group of people, but rather targeting everyone in our society who hides behind neurotic behavior, rather than deal with it.
To which many of us are saying bull feces, especially when you rant about 'social transvestism', 'girl men', 'drag queens' and 'pride fiends', we know your azz has spent time in Jamaica around its sometimes LGBT phobic music scene and you have Rastafarian influences on your life and work.
We also are quite aware of the fact there are elements of the Rastafarian religion that are virulently transphobic and homophobic
Dr. Monica Miller wrote in a BET op-ed this about the song:
Neurotic Society” proclaims again that Babylon is falling — thanks in part to tricksters like ”girl men,” ”drag queens,” and the lies of ”social transvestism.” Whether or not Hill is merely using these comments as examples of the smokescreens and sleight-of-hands that pervade this “Neurotic Society” is unclear. Beyond intention, these sorts of statements suggest that society is in a shambles because it’s been taking too many cues from the LGBTQ community, acting like “girl men,” “drag queens” and “transvestites.” Is her beef with oppressive society or is her issue with people who don’t abide by a traditional family structure?
For those who don’t feel me, would it be okay if her song criticized “neurotic society” for acting like “N-----s,” ”mammies” and ”jezebels?” No! Then why does she think it’s cool to critique society by using stereotypes about a community that suggest the community isn’t as valuable as another?
I believe the Neurotic Society lyrics are problematic despite Hill's protestations. They concern me as a leader in a trans community that has unacceptable levels of of anti-trans hate violence aimed at it.
I would like to believe that Lauryn Hill isn't a transphobe. But until she clarifies where she stands concerning the trans community and the issues we confront just trying to live our lives, all we have to judge her by are these problematic words from a song that I and much of my trans family ain't feeling.