On Ms. Lauryn Hill’s ‘Black Rage (sketch)’

If this were merely a generic expression of rage it would be excellent (Lauryn Hill has recorded ‘My Favourite Things’ and ‘Black rage’ before and I have long thought that those performances, similarly to the the Coltrane recordings, give the piece a depth that immediately casts aside any hint of insincerity or superficiality), but this is an attempt to give voice to something much more directed: a personal experience – that much maligned category that is near impossible to make truly visible – that at the same time can only really be made sense of as a condition of collective oppression.
With a tenderness entirely appropriate to the material she finds a language, timbre and style that manages to work its way between the concrete particular of ‘dog bites’ to the potentially universal ‘Black Rage’. The list of injuries doesn’t pretend to be a complete catalogue, just moments in a infinitely oppressive continuum that gives birth to the infinitely painful, yet practical, Black Rage. Can you not hear that rage in her song? Does it not stir you to want for the destruction of its maker?
The production too is an apt reflection of the wider conditions of white supremacy being acted against in this piece. Some have noted it for it’s haunting quality, but it achieves that only through what is for many everyday sensuousness – this is a recording from her living room and do you think that a woman of colour supporting children in her daily life would find the intrusion of children’s cries into the music as an interruption or a quotidian continuation? Is the lyrical material that unfamiliar that it haunts rather than just remind one of a collective history? It has found its way here into the piece not through some occult mechanism but through its pertinence and so this song should be heard as such.
At this time when yet another unrepentant murder of a person of colour has become the locus of a Black Rage against those very same killers, this piece serves as a weapon. It comes dedicated to peace (perhaps as all of our actions should be) but the conversation it opens between today’s injustice and the history of white supremacist injustices calls to mind the long time slogan of such moments: ‘No justice, no peace!’ Only Black Rage.

On Ms. Lauryn Hill’s ‘Black Rage (sketch)’

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