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Zion: The Joy of My World
Episode 22nd March 2022 • Flickers • Matthew Linder
00:00:00 00:41:43

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March 2, 2022

Zion: The Joy of My World

Summary: Zion. The name of Lauryn Hill's son. The representation of God's holiness on earth. For Lauryn, Zion is both things, a holy place and the holiness she found in giving birth to her son. We explore "To Zion" and the choice she made to continue on with her pregnancy, despite pressure from friends, family, and record executives to end her pregnancy. In addition, Raven Jones Stanbrough will walk us through Lauryn's religious history via "Everything is Everything."

Timestamps:

  • Lauryn Hill describes the ways she loves and experiences love. - 00:00
  • Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, Julius Tunstall and Raven Jones Stranbrough examine the Lauryn's choice to keep Zion in light of love through the song "To Zion." - 4:53
  • Personal impact of "To Zion" on women, who like Lauryn, similarly found themselves pregnant at an unexpected time. - 10:57
  • Alex Nava explains the dual meaning of Zion. - 18:59
  • A brief exploration of Lauryn's religious history. - 21:34
  • Cona Marshall explores Lauryn's religious history through "Everything is Everything." - 24:49
  • Femi Olutade breaks down the history of Abba Moses. - 33:30
  • Cona walks through the Gospel music connection in "Everything is Everything." - 36:19
  • Julius Tunstall on the expanding of Lauryn's Religious Understanding - 37:57

Hosts: Lauryn Hill researcher, Krystal Roberts, and Hip Hop scholar, Matt Linder.

Contributors: Raven Jones Stanbrough, Cona Marshall, Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, Alex Nava, Julius Tunstall, and Femi Olutade.

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Website: flickerspodcast.com

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Take the next step and text this episode to a friend who is a Lauryn Hill fan, a hip hop fan, or a music fan. They can subscribe on their favorite podcast app here: https://www.flickerspodcast.com/listen.

Logo design by @papercutprayers

Theme music by Julius Tunstall.

Additional music from beatsbyhype, fndguitar, Nabil Sioty, and Ashuka Made-It.

Episode Transcript: https://share.descript.com/view/GBSvBGQQ71N

Additional Resources:

Transcripts

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

That sense of admiration is also part

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

of her understanding of love.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And then we can tack our gratitude to appreciation.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

She really appreciates the possibility of having a child.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

The gift of his life.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

The gift of all life is very, very meaningful to her.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And so she sees that as very, very important to our understanding of love.

Krystal Roberts:

Love is foundational for Lauryn as an expression of

Krystal Roberts:

self other focused and divine love

Lauryn Hill:

you say I had to lose myself so I could love you better.

Lauryn Hill:

Is that, is that so I, you know, and that's like a double entendre,

Lauryn Hill:

cause you got, you know, As in lose something myself, or had to lose myself.

Lauryn Hill:

And then ultimately it says I had to lose myself in love.

Lauryn Hill:

You know, I had to lose myself in order to make it better.

Lauryn Hill:

You know, I had to lose myself in order to love you better.

Lauryn Hill:

Ultimately, I had to lose myself in order to love me better, you know,

Lauryn Hill:

in order to love others better,

Matt Linder:

her music is driven by and has the common connecting

Matt Linder:

thread of love as the wellspring of her musical inspiration.

Lauryn Hill:

It's just making love.

Lauryn Hill:

Making.

Lauryn Hill:

I call it.

Lauryn Hill:

This is like a musical libido.

Lauryn Hill:

That's all it is.

Lauryn Hill:

It's

Lauryn Hill:

to receive love to create love.

Lauryn Hill:

To make love.

Krystal Roberts:

That inspiration is divinely inspired, where she feels a

Krystal Roberts:

calling to spread this message of love,

Lauryn Hill:

you know, and what I do.

Lauryn Hill:

I mean, I found that there's a lot of power in prayer.

Lauryn Hill:

So I pray for the people who don't understand me.

Lauryn Hill:

And I tell you to be honest with you, I pray more now to be understood.

Lauryn Hill:

No, excuse me.

Lauryn Hill:

To understand than to be understood.

Lauryn Hill:

I pray now.

Lauryn Hill:

To note, to learn how to love than to be loved, because God

Lauryn Hill:

has given me an abundance.

Lauryn Hill:

So, you know, I don't need God.

Lauryn Hill:

These people don't understand me.

Lauryn Hill:

They think I'm crazy.

Lauryn Hill:

Every time I'm on the mic, they just, you know, it's not about that.

Lauryn Hill:

I pray that I understand them so that I can talk to them minister

Lauryn Hill:

to them, to them even more

Matt Linder:

as a messenger for the divine, she wants all of humanity to know

Matt Linder:

this message through her music and come to a better and deeper understanding of God.

Lauryn Hill:

I can't give anyone anything more.

Lauryn Hill:

You know, I, God showed me, I can sing songs about love.

Lauryn Hill:

I can sing songs about me and those people enjoy those songs.

Lauryn Hill:

But when they're desperately.

Lauryn Hill:

Desperately in need of help.

Lauryn Hill:

What will my music do?

Lauryn Hill:

How will it help them?

Lauryn Hill:

Will it redeem them?

Lauryn Hill:

Will it save them, but fight that battle for them.

Lauryn Hill:

You know, it's just a song,

Krystal Roberts:

but this God directed foundation for her message

Krystal Roberts:

of love is also secured in the love that she experienced while growing

Krystal Roberts:

up in a large and loving family.

Lauryn Hill:

Love is so important, a loving and you know, I really, I, to

Lauryn Hill:

this day, I, I, I can't tell you how blessed I am to know how much love.

Lauryn Hill:

And let me tell you, because when you get out there and you realize, see, I grew

Lauryn Hill:

up in a big family, my grandmother had 13 kids and it was always a lot of us.

Lauryn Hill:

And we just, you know, we just thought everybody's family is like this until

Lauryn Hill:

I met other people who were scarred.

Matt Linder:

And when she gave birth to her own children, The

Matt Linder:

unconditional love she had for them brought clarity to who she was in God.

Lauryn Hill:

Um, I'm very blessed, you know, I think it, um, you

Lauryn Hill:

know, it's matured me a great deal.

Lauryn Hill:

It's, uh, taken my, my priorities are in order, you know what I mean?

Lauryn Hill:

You know?

Lauryn Hill:

Everything is very clear.

Lauryn Hill:

I think there was a time when, you know, I thought I may have known

Lauryn Hill:

more than I actually did, and wasn't able to admit that, but now I'm very

Lauryn Hill:

clear that I don't know very much, you know, that's what children do.

Lauryn Hill:

They sort of humble you and kind of give you clarity in a world of confusion.

Krystal Roberts:

The birth of her first son was a pivotal moment for Lauryn in

Krystal Roberts:

regards to her agency and love of God.

Krystal Roberts:

It was a moment that changed everything in her life and brought a radical clarity to

Krystal Roberts:

her experiences, emotions and spiritual.

Krystal Roberts:

This informed that only the creation of the album, but in

Krystal Roberts:

particular, the song To Zion

Krystal Roberts:

I'm Krystal Roberts

Matt Linder:

I'm Matt Linder.

Krystal Roberts:

This is Flickers.

Zion:

The Joy of My World

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

While people saying, you know, you can't

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

be pregnant and have a career.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

If you go through with this pregnancy, you can lose everything.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

You're just at the top of the world.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Why would you be so stupid?

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Why would you do such a thing.

Krystal Roberts:

That was Dr.

Krystal Roberts:

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan and yes, this is how folks around her and the public

Krystal Roberts:

reacted to the news of her pregnancy.

Krystal Roberts:

So let's place this in context.

Krystal Roberts:

Endeavoring on her first solo album, her pregnancy only complicated things.

Krystal Roberts:

She was under a lot of pressure to deliver an album worthy of the reputation she had

Krystal Roberts:

garnered up until that point, she would have to juggle pending motherhood and a

Krystal Roberts:

career on the brink of superstardom many wonder how she was going to do it the day

Krystal Roberts:

after the Fugees won a Grammy for best rap album and best RnB performance by

Krystal Roberts:

a duo with vocals, MTV news asked her,

MTV News:

are you with child?

MTV News:

Don't blush on me now.

MTV News:

This is something that was planned.

MTV News:

And are you excited about it and

Lauryn Hill:

you know, 21 years old and going around the world?

Lauryn Hill:

No, but when he says it, um, you know, I'm very much in love and very happy.

Lauryn Hill:

I mean, Um, motherhood has a benediction, so I'm just bless

Lauryn Hill:

with another responsibilities.

Krystal Roberts:

This was in February, 1997 and her son

Krystal Roberts:

was born August 3rd, 1997.

Krystal Roberts:

So Lauryn was still in the very early stages of her pregnancy.

Krystal Roberts:

And also working on a solo album in an interview with the Chicago

Krystal Roberts:

Tribune, she said, quote, I was very pregnant and I should have been tired.

Krystal Roberts:

I had a huge amount of energy and say I had all these ideas and I'd be in

Krystal Roberts:

the studio till three in the morning in the birth of CYA brought clarity to

Krystal Roberts:

the song she was writing for the album

Matt Linder:

in that same interview with the Chicago show being,

Matt Linder:

she said quotes when you're pregnant, you're very emotional.

Matt Linder:

I think that was a huge benefit in making this album around most of the

Matt Linder:

songs prior to giving birth the events in my life that became the basis

Matt Linder:

for this album were unclear to me.

Matt Linder:

I was in the cycle of disillusionment, but when I got pregnant, everything

Matt Linder:

became very real and very clear, and I was able to see everything that I had

Matt Linder:

experienced for what it was end quote.

Julius Tunstall:

I can't imagine being pregnant, wanting to do this

Julius Tunstall:

creative endeavor that is huge.

Julius Tunstall:

And everybody telling you to get rid of the baby to like, think about

Julius Tunstall:

your future, think about your career.

Julius Tunstall:

Think about the toll that this is going to take on your body, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Julius Tunstall:

Julius Tunstall is speaking of the pressures that were placed on

Julius Tunstall:

Lauryn, from those at the label.

Julius Tunstall:

One of the engineers of the album, commissioner Gordon on rolling

Julius Tunstall:

Stone's 500 greatest albums podcasts described the creation of To Zion

Julius Tunstall:

and the reaction to her pregnancy

Commissioner Gordan:

Sat real close next to me and came close

Commissioner Gordan:

to my ear and like sang it really soft, like a whisper in my ear.

Commissioner Gordan:

And she's singing.

Commissioner Gordan:

Her son, there was a lot of pressure on her to not have a baby.

Commissioner Gordan:

And, Lauryn what are you doing?

Commissioner Gordan:

And so, To Zion in one way is her response to those that are label

Commissioner Gordan:

as well as those surrounding her.

Commissioner Gordan:

It's every person that said she was crazy to have a child in the midst of her rise,.

Commissioner Gordan:

To Zion Explained what none of them understood her joy

Commissioner Gordan:

was in Zion, not in stardom.

Julius Tunstall:

And just the way that she goes about talking about

Julius Tunstall:

what people are telling her to do with her life and to do with her.

Julius Tunstall:

Child that she's so excited about bringing into this world.

Julius Tunstall:

She thinks it's a gift and people are saying no is not.

Julius Tunstall:

This is actually a burden.

Lauryn Hill:

And that decision to have a child was the first decision for myself.

Lauryn Hill:

And it just impacted everything.

Lauryn Hill:

It was like a domino thing and it made me really see if it was genuine.

Lauryn Hill:

Uh, life and care about my emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Lauryn Hill:

And it was, it was real heavy experience.

Lauryn Hill:

I, a lot of people were surprised and some were like,

Lauryn Hill:

you know why now's not the time.

Lauryn Hill:

Like, you know, they never continued.

Lauryn Hill:

Even if you prepare, you're not prepare, you know, because that's

Lauryn Hill:

how really magnificent this, you know, it's just an incredible thing.

Julius Tunstall:

And she's like I don't think so.

Julius Tunstall:

It's really just so heavy because the production is so

Julius Tunstall:

good and the words are so good.

Julius Tunstall:

You can tell that she literally sat down and probably wrote down words, scratched

Julius Tunstall:

stuff out, wrote down something else.

Julius Tunstall:

I can say that better.

Julius Tunstall:

That doesn't have to be said that way.

Julius Tunstall:

And then we'd be more straight forward.

Julius Tunstall:

Let me dah, dah, dah, like it's so incredible.

Julius Tunstall:

The way that she.

Julius Tunstall:

Once again, makes another jump like in her artistry, like she's so focused

Krystal Roberts:

and the reward for that focus.

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

I got these Grammys, I got these running nominations.

Krystal Roberts:

This is Raven Joan Stanborough.

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

I did this as a Billboard artist, actor charts,

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

not only as a Fugees member, but as a solo career artist idea this as

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

an actress, I'm still doing this.

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

I'm an activist and I'm going to still put myself out there.

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

But it's gonna look different.

Krystal Roberts:

And with the recording of miseducation, it looked very different.

Krystal Roberts:

Lauryn say it to the Chicago Tribune quote.

Krystal Roberts:

I remember recording one vocal while I was flat on my back because I was so big.

Krystal Roberts:

I couldn't stand for long periods anymore in quotes

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

:

and as a new mother.

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

:

Right.

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

:

Like Zion, Zion was born in the midst of all of that.

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

:

And her trying to figure out her life and people telling her to get an

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

:

abortion, come on now, we not doing that.

Krystal Roberts:

Lauryn making that choice with her son personally impacted women who

Krystal Roberts:

found themselves in similar situations.

Matt Linder:

Wanna Thompson, a freelance writer wrote for title on the 20th

Matt Linder:

anniversary of miseducation quote.

Matt Linder:

There is something incredibly special and poetic about To Zion.

Matt Linder:

Lauryn speaks, candidly, about the uncertainty surrounding her

Matt Linder:

pregnancy and the happiness.

Matt Linder:

She felt after giving birth to her first child.

Matt Linder:

At the age of 22, I found myself in a similar circumstance contemplating

Matt Linder:

my position in this world and wondering if I could bring a child

Matt Linder:

into it throughout the world, wind of emotions that I was experiencing.

Matt Linder:

I found the answerin Hill's prose.

Matt Linder:

It is a story about faith survival and the potency of choice in,

Krystal Roberts:

and then in Joan Morgan, she began this 20 years

Krystal Roberts:

of the miseducation of Lauryn hill Tarana Burke recounted her experience.

Krystal Roberts:

Quote Lauryn Hill and I were pregnant at the same time.

Krystal Roberts:

I was part of a group of youth activists across the country

Krystal Roberts:

who were doing significant work.

Krystal Roberts:

I was 23.

Krystal Roberts:

I just graduated college, had a job and was having a baby

Krystal Roberts:

with the love of my life.

Krystal Roberts:

In my mind, I was grown, but everybody was very much like, what are you doing?

Krystal Roberts:

You're poised to accomplish this and that.

Krystal Roberts:

Why would you have a baby?

Krystal Roberts:

Right?

Krystal Roberts:

Then even my movement folks were like, This is not revolutionary.

Krystal Roberts:

It's selfish.

Krystal Roberts:

I felt like the most revolutionary work I could do was raised

Krystal Roberts:

this little girl in cold.

Krystal Roberts:

The thing is Tarana was right.

Krystal Roberts:

She went on to found one of the most impactful social

Krystal Roberts:

movements of the 21st century.

Krystal Roberts:

The me too movement.

Tarana Burke:

Our goal was really to work with, um, black and brown girls

Tarana Burke:

in the south around who are survivors of sexual violence to speak healing

Tarana Burke:

into their lives, to let them know that healing was possible and let

Tarana Burke:

them know that they weren't alone.

Tarana Burke:

And it just grew from there grew from working with young girls

Tarana Burke:

to grown women, we realized, oh, we're survivors of sexual violence.

Tarana Burke:

So there's others like us and it, and it's really been focused

Tarana Burke:

on what survivors need to.

Tarana Burke:

Start a healing process.

Tarana Burke:

That's really what the heart of our movement has been about and also

Tarana Burke:

working to end sexual violence.

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

And I'm so grateful that she didn't listen to those

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

who wanted her to discard her child.

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

And to discard what she was able to create, with Rohan Marley,

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

the whole experience of being able to help

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

to bring another human being.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

For her is a part of love.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

So the gift of creation.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

So you have the tag creation with love.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And she thanks her son for choosing her.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And so she's saying that.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

Over my career and any objections people had to her being a single

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

mom, because in your word, she says, the joy of my world is in zion

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

But I would say that based upon my analysis, of the music and listening

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

to the passion and compassion, and also say part of our understanding of

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

love is salvation, self compassion.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

That is it's really genuine because she said only God could create.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And she's reminded every day of how she sees his face.

Matt Linder:

Lauryn in an interview with BET, explicitly ties, Zion

Matt Linder:

coming into her life with God.

Lauryn Hill:

Um, influenced my life.

Lauryn Hill:

You know what I'm saying?

Lauryn Hill:

Just in general, I'm always saying that Zion had the most to

Lauryn Hill:

do about my miseducation because it was like, he, he revives me.

Lauryn Hill:

You know what I mean?

Lauryn Hill:

He, he was like, God sent him to me, to revive my spirit.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

With her having, this child, she learned the depths of love

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

in a way that she'd never known before.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

And therefore her understanding of love would have to deal

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

with the gift of fertility.

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

That gift of being able to bear and carry a child.

Krystal Roberts:

As we said, at the beginning of the episode,

Krystal Roberts:

Lauryn knew love because she was,

Lauryn Hill:

I've always been surrounded by love.

Lauryn Hill:

So I never had any voids any empty spaces as far as like attention,

Lauryn Hill:

you know what I'm saying?

Lauryn Hill:

And love.

Lauryn Hill:

And it wasn't til later that I started to meet people who, you

Lauryn Hill:

know, didn't grow up with the same security, you know what I'm saying?

Lauryn Hill:

Same sense of love and affection that I grew up with.

Lauryn Hill:

And I saw how it affected them.

Lauryn Hill:

You know what I'm saying?

Lauryn Hill:

And it really, really made me think about how blessed I was to be born

Lauryn Hill:

into a family that I was going into.

Krystal Roberts:

Had had a deep love of God.

Lauryn Hill:

First of all, I'd like to say thanks to God.

Lauryn Hill:

Um, because he, uh, changed my life and put it in a direction in the

Lauryn Hill:

direction that is going in now.

Lauryn Hill:

And he made me remember what I was supposed to be doing.

Lauryn Hill:

And, um, Who I really was.

Krystal Roberts:

And with To Zion she connected the two as a

Krystal Roberts:

driving purpose for her music.

Krystal Roberts:

And more importantly, her life,

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

she felt like this was a worth my career in

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

that way, in terms of silence in myself and this other life that I've

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

created for myself and for the people.

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

So I feel like we've been able to learn from Lauryn, not only as a

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

scholar, not only, as an artist.

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

Well, as a mother.

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

Even admist contemporary critics in the fall back and the pushback against

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

her silence, because I often like, even silence says something very loudly.

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

Like I hear Lauryn, even if you're saying.

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

I hear her saying, let's take a break.

Raven Jones Stanbrough:

So I could focus on my damn kid.

Krystal Roberts:

In 2001 on a stage and MTV studios in New York city

Krystal Roberts:

for her unplugged 2.0 performance.

Krystal Roberts:

She recalled this tension of being a tour musician and a mother

Krystal Roberts:

On tour you're supposed to enjoy and have a good time, but I'd be

Krystal Roberts:

this prisoner in a hotel, you know, drinking tea and, you know, telling the

Krystal Roberts:

children, you know, mommy has to sleep.

Krystal Roberts:

Cause I wanted to maintain this.

Krystal Roberts:

Immaculate sounding voice, but that's not realistic.

Krystal Roberts:

You know, reality is sometimes I stay up late is what I sound like when I wake up

Krystal Roberts:

the next day and you know, it's a voice, you know, and to me that the more I, uh,

Krystal Roberts:

um, I focus less on myself, the more I realize I can be used to spread a message.

Krystal Roberts:

Cause when I'm, you know, I used to be so, you know, oh my God, if I

Krystal Roberts:

sound, you know, harsh and raspy, I can't go out there and that's a lie,

Krystal Roberts:

you know, I just sound like a singer with a lot of stuff in her throat.

Krystal Roberts:

But it was more than the physical exhaustion of being pregnant

Krystal Roberts:

and recording an album, but an emotional and spiritual battle.

Lauryn Hill:

I've gone through a lot, you know, a huge

Lauryn Hill:

emotional and spiritual battle.

Lauryn Hill:

Prior to the creation of that album.

Lauryn Hill:

And the funny thing is that while I was going in the battle, I

Lauryn Hill:

couldn't see my hand spite my face.

Lauryn Hill:

I mean, I really couldn't see anything cause I was so emotionally entangled

Lauryn Hill:

in everything that I'd gone through, but it was like once I was delivered

Lauryn Hill:

from that situation, You know, and once I got the perspective was able

Lauryn Hill:

to look back at heartache and look back at pain and disappointment.

Lauryn Hill:

For some reason, it all was so clear and miseducation as well

Lauryn Hill:

as to Zion was born out of that.

Lauryn Hill:

These battles, you know, the picture started to form itself.

Lauryn Hill:

The songs started to create themselves.

Lauryn Hill:

I was able to look back and, and, and, uh, and, and be a

Lauryn Hill:

narrator of my own situation.

Lauryn Hill:

But the interesting thing.

Lauryn Hill:

Was that it didn't, it couldn't happen while I was in the middle of it.

Lauryn Hill:

The confusion.

Alex Nava:

And so it's obviously drawing from like the biblical motifs of Zion,

Alex Nava:

where Zion is a place of deliverance

Matt Linder:

to Zion is a double entendre.

Matt Linder:

Not only for her son, but also the biblical imagery it conjures up.

Matt Linder:

As Alex Nava explains the old Testament.

Matt Linder:

Prophet.

Matt Linder:

Jeremiah

Alex Nava:

speaks at Zion during the period of the Babylonian exile, where

Alex Nava:

the Israelites are in an exile and Zion becomes image of return return to the

Alex Nava:

holy land., but so she's invoking a lot of that, that tradition, Zion of course

Alex Nava:

appears in, in many of the spirituals.

Alex Nava:

So it's a very, rich rich symbol of the idea of Zion that brings.

Alex Nava:

Not only personal significance and her keys, but spiritual significance, and

Alex Nava:

also of like social, social significance.

Matt Linder:

That significance of the spiritual metaphor of a mountain

Matt Linder:

comes across in a speech she gave to a high school students in 2000

Matt Linder:

at the Academy of Achievement.

Lauryn Hill:

Life has its peaks and valleys.

Lauryn Hill:

And some people think that that some people explain that as

Lauryn Hill:

good times, bad times, but I actually think it's learning or.

Lauryn Hill:

Let's say learning mastership learning mastership.

Lauryn Hill:

Okay.

Lauryn Hill:

Or study mastership study matters.

Lauryn Hill:

Mastership.

Lauryn Hill:

No.

Lauryn Hill:

Right.

Lauryn Hill:

I went from the top of one.

Lauryn Hill:

Alright.

Lauryn Hill:

I mastered something and mastered something and people appreciated it.

Lauryn Hill:

But you know, once you're at the top of that mountain, you have to go this way.

Lauryn Hill:

But in hip hop, everybody's like, I'm not moving.

Lauryn Hill:

I'm the master.

Lauryn Hill:

I'm.

Lauryn Hill:

I'm great.

Lauryn Hill:

I'm dope.

Lauryn Hill:

I'm hot.

Lauryn Hill:

I'm here.

Lauryn Hill:

I've arrived.

Lauryn Hill:

I'm not going anywhere.

Lauryn Hill:

And that's when you stay stuck on top of one.

Lauryn Hill:

On one hill, one mountain, when you know, God's intention is that we study

Lauryn Hill:

and master a bunch of different things.

Lauryn Hill:

And so here I am descending this hill and everybody's like, where are you going?

Lauryn Hill:

You know, we, we were supposed to be on the top of the hill,

Lauryn Hill:

but it's, it's exciting time.

Lauryn Hill:

It's, it's definitely exciting time for me because I'm at the foot of another hill.

Lauryn Hill:

You know, this, this hill, you know, is.

Lauryn Hill:

You know, it's totally different.

Lauryn Hill:

You have to navigate it different, but I get to learn.

Lauryn Hill:

And then once you learn and you go through that, you on the top of another one,

Krystal Roberts:

there's different ways to get from the valley to

Krystal Roberts:

the peak for Lauryn, it's always been a path led by her faith.

Matt Linder:

So let's explore the complexity of Lauryn's religious

Matt Linder:

influences, as they are myriad and express through her music.

Matt Linder:

In a 2007 interview with TV maniacs, she speaks to the creation and

Matt Linder:

making of music as a sacred duty

Lauryn Hill:

And when you're dealing with people who make music and write

Lauryn Hill:

songs about the human condition.

Lauryn Hill:

You're really dealing with the human heart condition.

Lauryn Hill:

And, you know, it's important to do that in a, in a clean and sanctified area.

Lauryn Hill:

A lot of the music did tonight was Bob Marley.

Lauryn Hill:

Bob Marley took what he did so seriously for him.

Lauryn Hill:

It was a priesthood, you know, it wasn't, for me, it's a priesthood.

Lauryn Hill:

It's not just, you know, let me just write this joint.

Lauryn Hill:

And, you know, we could, I could do that.

Lauryn Hill:

But for me, you know, for me to experience the high, it has to be

Lauryn Hill:

something so connected, you know, so much deeper than just, you know,

Lauryn Hill:

doing it necessarily for profit.

Lauryn Hill:

So

Matt Linder:

we'll come back to Bob Marley and his musical and spiritual

Matt Linder:

influence on Lauryn at a later episode.

Matt Linder:

But for now, we're going to look at the broad religious traditions

Matt Linder:

that have informed her spirituality.

Matt Linder:

We heard from American religions, professor Cona Marshall in the

Matt Linder:

last episode, and she'll be the one guiding us through Lauryn's

Matt Linder:

personal religious history

Cona Marshall:

You know she was raised Baptist.

Whitney Houston:

Lauryn and I are from the same state.

Whitney Houston:

We both from New Jersey.

Whitney Houston:

Lauryn went to my church.

Whitney Houston:

Also.

Whitney Houston:

I think Lauryn was like 15 or 16.

Whitney Houston:

I gave Lauryn a call.

Whitney Houston:

I said, why aren't you doing a solo album?

Whitney Houston:

Why aren't you going to do something?

Whitney Houston:

You know, you're, you're a singer and you have a such a beautiful voice and people

Whitney Houston:

would love to hear what you have to.

Whitney Houston:

And she said to me, Whitney, I'm a Fugee and Fugee forever.

Cona Marshall:

But then you know, Ethiopian Orthodox.,

Lauryn Hill:

that my great-grandfather was a preacher and he was baptized, um,

Lauryn Hill:

children in white with their heads tied.

Lauryn Hill:

And white also makes me think of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity

Lauryn Hill:

and, and the white that they were.

Cona Marshall:

Her kids father is Rastafarian.

Rohan Marley:

Being that my father left at such a young age.

Rohan Marley:

Me, us, all of us.

Rohan Marley:

We had to, uh, find that higher self, that higher consciousness, you know, in

Rohan Marley:

regards to, liberty and a way of life, you know, so, so that is a teachings of

Rohan Marley:

the most high, the teaching of Rastafari.

Cona Marshall:

And she became a part of the 5 percenters in the Fugees's I run

Cona Marshall:

so that's a lot to unpack religiously, right?

Cona Marshall:

So right there.

Cona Marshall:

Placing herself in black history.

Cona Marshall:

And, and when it comes to religiosity here, I think Lauryn becomes maybe like

Cona Marshall:

how many say like me, I'm maybe becoming more like her in the sense that if

Cona Marshall:

someone asks me my religion, I kind of say the thing like I'm between religions.

Matt Linder:

On Miseducation.

Matt Linder:

Everything is everything provides a detailed compendium

Matt Linder:

of Lauryn's religious beliefs.

Cona Marshall:

She burps the word philosophy, and that's how she starts off.

Cona Marshall:

But situating herself as someone of a knowledge curator, right?

Cona Marshall:

Like I philosophy.

Cona Marshall:

And then she talks about possibly speaking tongues Baptist rap this, Abyssinian

Cona Marshall:

right at the Abyssinian Baptist

Lauryn Hill:

philosophy, possibly speak in tongues, Abyssinian Baptist from

Lauryn Hill:

the beginning of my practice, extending the cross, the Atlas I begat this.

Cona Marshall:

So now she's talking about New York city and Abyssinian

Cona Marshall:

Baptist church is the first Baptist church and in the city, and it's

Cona Marshall:

served as a cultural hub for the city.

Cona Marshall:

Anyone who knows about a lot of black cultural movement

Cona Marshall:

Abyssinian is that church.

Cona Marshall:

Serves of that I'm sort of hub, right?

Cona Marshall:

So she is talking about her Baptist cultural roots.

Cona Marshall:

The Bible is about God's interaction with God's people through their liberation.

Cona Marshall:

And then she goes into what I believe is I won't even say a

Cona Marshall:

religion because they wouldn't have called themselves in religion.

Cona Marshall:

They would have said that they were a company.

Cona Marshall:

And then it is the 5% or five percenters is a set formed by Clarence 13 X in

Cona Marshall:

1963, as a shoot of the nation of Islam.

Interview Clip:

I look and he didn't give the on that, make him that, that

Interview Clip:

he, he let the people know that their life was worth more than product.

Cona Marshall:

I'm from Michigan.

Cona Marshall:

So it was over in there where it was this offshoot of Islam of

Cona Marshall:

sorts where Fard Muhammad, you know, that the black man was God,

Interview Clip:

the vision new black man is God.

Interview Clip:

The founder of all the men upon the planet earth.

Interview Clip:

We, the 5% of here, we represent ourselves as God who are true.

Interview Clip:

As God,

Cona Marshall:

and this isn't a far stretch there than black Christians who

Cona Marshall:

have done so, and so many terms that,

Interview Clip:

and Daniel said, when I saw Jesus, I looked at

Interview Clip:

him, got a good look at him.

Interview Clip:

When I looked at him, I saw he had a hat, like had eyes like flames of fire.

Interview Clip:

And his feet looked like polished brass.

Interview Clip:

Have you seen any vanilla looking brass

Cona Marshall:

that Jesus is phenotypically black like that he has

Cona Marshall:

black skin and dread locs no but that Jesus has the not ontologically black.

Cona Marshall:

Contextually black, right.

Cona Marshall:

That you know, he's born, you know, in Bethlehem to a a teenage mother

Cona Marshall:

and gets hung by the government.

Interview Clip:

Baby, Jesus spent time as a fugitive.

Interview Clip:

And I'm so glad Egypt didn't have no wall built up.

Interview Clip:

I'm so glad they didn't have Egypt and border patrol to take him from

Interview Clip:

his mama and put him in a cage.

Interview Clip:

He found a silence and safety in Egypt while the government,

Interview Clip:

the leader was trying to kill.

Cona Marshall:

You know, if someone wants to preach in a Black church,

Cona Marshall:

you know, I know a God that could identify with this kind of situation.

Interview Clip:

Don't you black people ever forget one thing.

Interview Clip:

The man that helped Jesus carry that cross was a black man and

Interview Clip:

don't ever forget another thing.

Interview Clip:

Jesus belongs to Africa.

Matt Linder:

W.E.B Dubois and his circle of depicted Jesus as a black Southern man.

Matt Linder:

Theologian Howard Thurman tied Jesus directly to the experience of black

Matt Linder:

oppression in the U S theologian.

Matt Linder:

James Cone took it even further by linking Jesus's cross with the lynching tree.

Matt Linder:

Assata Shakur member of

Krystal Roberts:

the black liberation army said, quote, I believe that

Krystal Roberts:

Jesus was a political prisoner.

Krystal Roberts:

Who was executed because he fought against the evils of the Roman empire because he

Krystal Roberts:

fought the greed of the money changers in the temple because he fought against

Krystal Roberts:

the sins and injustices of his time as a true shout of God, Jesus spoke up for the

Krystal Roberts:

poor, the meek, the sick and the oppressed

Krystal Roberts:

in qual.

Matt Linder:

And then Assata's godson Tupac Shakur.

Matt Linder:

Influence by his godmother and the black spirituality he grew up under depicted

Matt Linder:

Jesus as black in the song, black Jesuz

Matt Linder:

[Black Jesuz]

Krystal Roberts:

and there are countless examples of references to Jesus as

Krystal Roberts:

black in hip hop or even rappers portraying themselves as Jesus, such as

Krystal Roberts:

Kaney's infamous Rolling Stone cover.

Cona Marshall:

So it's not far fetched to think that the Nation

Cona Marshall:

of Islam would think these things.

Cona Marshall:

And so you got a lot of hip hoppers around that time that were professing

Cona Marshall:

their Erykah Badu or the Wu-Tang, and you get this kind of ideology.

Cona Marshall:

So even though Lauryn has language and rhetoric of Christianity and Baptist,

Cona Marshall:

you can hear Lauryn go from where hip-hop meets scripture, and to these

Cona Marshall:

kinds of ideologies of 5 percenters as a nation she'll say, I promise it's heavy.

Cona Marshall:

Like the mom, this is the Betty Shabazz.

Cona Marshall:

So now she's given reference, right?

Cona Marshall:

to the nation, so she's saying that.

Lauryn Hill:

[Everything is Everything]

Krystal Roberts:

Betty Shabazz, the widow of Malcolm X,

Interview Clip:

and particularly one of the things was, uh, internationalized.

Interview Clip:

The problem with the Afro-American in this country.

Interview Clip:

He felt that as long as in a few states, we were begging

Interview Clip:

for cups of coffee, nothing.

Cona Marshall:

And I fight where stars and constellations I'm adjacent to the King.

Cona Marshall:

I don't fear human being hip hop meet scripture, develop a

Cona Marshall:

negative and postive picture.

Cona Marshall:

It's this ideology that, you know, we are more than.

Cona Marshall:

Humans and what's going on in our own circumstances.

Cona Marshall:

We are above it.

Cona Marshall:

We are actually in a space where we can converse with gods.

Cona Marshall:

It's not a lot, a lot of Christian rhetoric of those of the

Cona Marshall:

oppressed or religious rhetoric.

Cona Marshall:

It's hard to be hopeful.

Cona Marshall:

And so without becoming nihilistic, right?

Cona Marshall:

What do you do?

Cona Marshall:

How do we situate God, all powerful and all knowing and all omnipresent

Cona Marshall:

and our lives have suffered.

Cona Marshall:

And so I believe that that's what Lauryn is doing and everything is everything.

Cona Marshall:

I would even argue that she's doing in a more of her music,

Cona Marshall:

but everything is everything.

Cona Marshall:

Everything is, everything is the most pessimistic and optimistic phrase you can

Cona Marshall:

ever say, depending on your perspective, it was like, it isn't what it is.

Cona Marshall:

And then she tries to say, we are not of this world because being in

Cona Marshall:

this world is hard to deal with.

Cona Marshall:

As young people are government series of Lemmy, it's rough.

Cona Marshall:

And while she doesn't provide too many answers, she does provide,

Cona Marshall:

I think, eschatological grasping.

Cona Marshall:

I think she does have hope for the future.

Cona Marshall:

I think she has hope and loving ourselves and love.

Cona Marshall:

So she's talking about, again, going back to the Ethiopia, right?

Cona Marshall:

These Ethiopian concept of blackness.

Matt Linder:

I want to take us down a bit of a rabbit trail,

Matt Linder:

but I think an important one.

Matt Linder:

As it shows us how these traditions inform Lauryn's understanding

Matt Linder:

of God and spirituality.

Femi Olutade:

There's one of the desert father that most people

Femi Olutade:

don't know about, but it should

Femi Olutade:

be well-known.

Femi Olutade:

Femi Olutade worked on Dissect, which is a very popular music

Femi Olutade:

podcasts, African Nigeria, and by ethnicity, I grew up charismatic.

Femi Olutade:

Assemblies of God was received into the Orthodox church about 2019 or so.

Femi Olutade:

He's called Abba.

Femi Olutade:

Moses also known as Moses, the Ethiopian and Phil's or no Ethiopia.

Femi Olutade:

Initially, like at an ethnic origin, it's actually a racial one

Femi Olutade:

because Ethiopia in Greek means like gland of like scorched faces.

Femi Olutade:

So it's actually talking about as black people.

Femi Olutade:

So he's ultimately really referred to as Moses, the black

Matt Linder:

Ethiopia was an important center for early Christianity.

Matt Linder:

There are lots of mentions of Ethiopia and the old Testament.

Matt Linder:

You have the whole Ethiopian Eunich situation where Philip one of

Matt Linder:

Jesus's disciples brings the first Gentile into the Christian faith.

Matt Linder:

And then he had the Ethiopian Orthodox church, which traces its origins

Matt Linder:

back to that Ethiopian Eunich.

Matt Linder:

So Ethiopia has a very important and rich history in Christianity.

Matt Linder:

And Moses, the Ethiopian is integral part of that story.

Femi Olutade:

And he's interesting because he was a slave and then he

Femi Olutade:

was a robber and murderer, and then he found a monastery and then his life got

Femi Olutade:

changed by knowing Jesus and being part.

Femi Olutade:

The spiritual tradition in the Eastern church.

Femi Olutade:

And this was the early centuries, of the church.

Femi Olutade:

So it wasn't really split at the time, but it was in the Eastern

Femi Olutade:

tradition and he just changed his life.

Femi Olutade:

He became his really strong pacifist and he, it took him a while and to

Femi Olutade:

come out of working through a lot of his tendency, that a lot of things

Femi Olutade:

that were in his heart, but he became this very gentle and loving.

Femi Olutade:

And then like life-giving kind of person.

Femi Olutade:

So definitely great Saint that is not known generally.

Matt Linder:

In addition, in Rastafarianism ethiopia

Matt Linder:

is their Holy land.

Interview Clip:

Rastafari right.

Interview Clip:

Concept is one is majesty.

Interview Clip:

Alice philosophers is the return Messiah justice Christus,

Interview Clip:

and his kingly corrector two.

Interview Clip:

We believe in a United States of Africa and three repatriation

Interview Clip:

and reparation among us.

Interview Clip:

When did.

Interview Clip:

In our time.

Matt Linder:

So there's a lot of rich religious imagery that Lauryn

Matt Linder:

is bringing when reference Ethiopia in Everything is Everything.

Cona Marshall:

The religiosity of the song even appears in the

Cona Marshall:

music and her choice of musicians.

Cona Marshall:

And I wouldn't even dare say gospel because that's where John Legend

Cona Marshall:

actually got his first debut on that.

Cona Marshall:

So

Interview Clip:

gospel background.

Interview Clip:

During the listening party and how that influenced this album, you know, my radio

Interview Clip:

show airs in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Interview Clip:

Oh, wow.

Interview Clip:

So I used to play there at the church for several years.

Interview Clip:

Yes.

Interview Clip:

And even when I moved to New York, I was still drive over to Scranton every

Interview Clip:

once in a while and play at the church.

Interview Clip:

And, uh, uh, I love the folks in Scranton and, uh, Bethel AME church legend

Interview Clip:

telling them from like the gospel it's little, they're so much on, on, in there.

Interview Clip:

I love it.

Cona Marshall:

So, I guess I'd say it's as grappling with both identity

Cona Marshall:

and race and gender while also trying to understand religion and religion at

Cona Marshall:

the end of the day questions and ask all the questions that we've have no

Cona Marshall:

answers to in the song says we're trying to win a game who made these rules.

Cona Marshall:

Right.

Cona Marshall:

So this game that we're playing, we're so confused easily and let astray.

Cona Marshall:

I think she's trying to make sense of it all.

Cona Marshall:

And that's what religion is also doing.

Cona Marshall:

Tries to provide us answers or not even answers, but a way to navigate the world

Krystal Roberts:

in a song like everything is everything we hear Lauryn

Krystal Roberts:

exploring various threads of religions.

Krystal Roberts:

And how her religious knowledge and understanding is expanding.

Julius Tunstall:

The being that is God, is like in such a small box

Julius Tunstall:

to me, from what I've been fed.

Julius Tunstall:

And there's so much more to the realization of who God is and

Julius Tunstall:

what God can do in someone's life.

Julius Tunstall:

And so Lauryn Hill started figuring that out in bits and pieces.

Lauryn Hill:

When the lights were turned off in my life, I realized

Lauryn Hill:

that I had been in the dark and that.

Lauryn Hill:

That my entire purpose on earth was to be a servant

Julius Tunstall:

and miseducation puts some perspective out there.

Lauryn Hill:

[Tell Him]

Julius Tunstall:

And then puts it out there on the Unplugged album.

Lauryn Hill:

I want to let young people know that it is, uh, it is not a burden

Lauryn Hill:

to love him and could represent him.

Lauryn Hill:

As fly and his hat and his whatever, and it's still love God.

Lauryn Hill:

And to serve him, it's not a contradiction.

Lauryn Hill:

It's not a contradiction.

Lauryn Hill:

[I Gotta Find Peace of Mind],

Krystal Roberts:

Even with love as her foundation, Lauryn learned a

Krystal Roberts:

greater love through the birth of Zion.

Krystal Roberts:

But found an even greater love from God who loved her

Krystal Roberts:

enough to bless her, with Zion.

Krystal Roberts:

and as she put it helped her find peace of mind.