After serving time this year for tax evasion, Lauryn Hill is a free woman, and right on the heels of her release is a new song, “Consumerism.” For fans of the artist, this is encouraging news; new music from Hill—who still has only one solo studio album, 1998’s hugely successful The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, to her name—is the pop-music equivalent to Halley’s Comet. Just prior to her three-month stint in jail, she released her first song in years, the vitriolic but underwhelming “Neurotic Society.”
And, unfortunately, her follow-up is not any better. In fact, “Consumerism” is worse, with Hill running through a laundry list of –isms seemingly willy nilly: skepticism, modernism, hedonism, fascism, hypnotism, secularism. It’s reminiscent of the opening to John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” (“Everybody’s talkin’ ‘bout / Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism…”) only it goes on and on and on. It’s like your worst slam-poetry nightmare come true.
In an accompanying statement, Hill says she “felt the need to discuss the underlying socio-political, cultural paradigm as I saw it.” Coming from someone as smart and complicated as Hill, such a discussion is more than welcome. But what’s presented in “Consumerism” feels less like a discussion and more like an attempt to fulfill contractual obligations. Here’s hoping that, with prison behind her, things get better from here.