Lauryn Hill Agrees to Make New Music, Sony Agrees to Pay Her Bills

Record label bailing ex-Fugee out of huge tax debt

Ms. Lauryn Hill arrives at court / Getty Images
Ms. Lauryn Hill arrives at court / Getty Images
Jordan Sargent WRITTEN BY
Jordan Sargent

Ms. Lauryn Hill's tax evasion case looks like it will weirdly turn out to be a boon for her fans. Hill confirmed yesterday in a Tumblr post that she has signed a new record deal with Sony Worldwide Entertainment and is preparing to release new music. It has been reported that Sony agreed to a deal with Hill in order to help her allieviate her tax debt, and though Hill alludes to that dynamic in her post, she doesn't outright confirm that as the motivation behind her finally entering into a new record deal.

The terms of the deal have not officially been announced, though Hill does say in her letter that the number being reported — $1 million — is only a portion of the contract. Hill has not released an album since 2002's MTV Unplugged 2.0 and has not released a studio album since 1998's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. She last had a studio song leak back in 2010 ("Repercussions") but has not embarked on a legitimate album release cycle in well over a decade. She has, though, toured steadily in the intermittent period.

Read the full text of Hill's letter below.

It has been reported that I signed a new record deal, and that I did this to pay taxes. Yes, I have recently entered into an agreement with Sony Worldwide Entertainment, to launch a new label, on which my new music will be released. And yes, I am working on new music.

I’ve remained silent, after an extensive healing process. This has been a 10+ year battle, for a long time played out behind closed doors, but now in front of the public eye. This is an old conflict between art and commerce… free minds, and minds that are perhaps overly tethered to structure. This is about inequity, and the resulting disenfranchisement caused by it. I’ve been fighting for existential and economic freedom, which means the freedom to create and live without someone threatening, controlling, and/or manipulating the art and the artist, by tying the purse strings.

It took years for me to get out of the ‘parasitic’ dynamic of my youth, and into a deal that better reflects my true contribution as an artist, and (purportedly) gives me the control necessary to create a paradigm suitable for my needs. I have been working towards this for a long time, not just because of my current legal situation, but because I am an artist, I love to create, and I need the proper platform to do so.

The nature of my new business venture, as well as the dollar amount reported, was inaccurate, only a portion of the overall deal. Keep in mind, my past recordings have sold over 50,000,000 units worldwide, earning the label a tremendous amount of money (a fraction of which actually came to me).

Only a completely complicated set of traps, manipulations, and inequitable business arrangements could put someone who has accomplished the things that I have, financially in need of anything. I am one artist who finds value in openly discussing the dynamics within this industry that force artists to compromise or distort themselves and what they do, rather than allowing them to make the music that people need. There are volumes that could (and will) be said.

MLH

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