The real reasons 5-time Grammy winner, Lauryn Hill, went underground and failed to file tax returns.
Federal prosecutors charged Lauryn Hill, 37, with three counts of “knowingly and willfully” failing to file a income tax return for 2005-2007.
But Lauryn Hill spoke out saying that she went underground and withdrew to heal and grow away from the forces that had oppressed and manipulated her in the past. And she referred to the music industry as a toxic, exploitative environment.
“For the past several years, I have remained what others would consider underground. I did this in order to build a community of people, like-minded in their desire for freedom and the right to pursue their goals and lives without being manipulated and controlled by a media protected military industrial complex with a completely different agenda. Having put the lives and needs of other people before my own for multiple years, and having made hundreds of millions of dollars for certain institutions, under complex and sometimes severe circumstances, I began to require growth and more equitable treatment, but was met with resistance. I entered into my craft full of optimism (which I still possess), but immediately saw the suppressive force with which the system attempts to maintain it’s control over a given paradigm. I’ve seen people promote addiction, use sabotage, black listing, media bullying and any other coercion technique they could, to prevent artists from knowing their true value, or exercising their full power. These devices of control, no matter how well intentioned (or not), can have a devastating outcome on the lives of people, especially creative types who must grow and exist within a certain environment and according to a certain pace, in order to live and create optimally.”
Below is a transcript of a detailed and revealing interview Human Behavior Expert and Celebrity Life Coach, Patrick Wanis PhD gave about Lauryn Hill, sharing his insights into Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, Pras, the music industry, the entourage (“parasites”), and the minds, drives and struggles of artists, performers and musicians.
Natalie: So have you been following this Lauryn Hill situation at all over the past couple of years?
Patrick: Yes. I know quite a bit about Lauryn. I’m connected with some people close to her. I know one of the main reasons she decided to come and start being public again was because her children are a little older and she needed the money and she missed performing.
Natalie: That’s what I would guess, yeah.
Patrick: Pras and Wyclef had been trying to get her to form the Fugees again, but she just kept slamming the door on them – didn’t want anything to do with them. There are probably some unresolved issues with Wyclef regarding their original romantic connection and relationship, but they’ve tended to view her as more than just the third wheel. But they have called her a bitch.
Patrick: They had made some pretty big ovations and gestures to try and get her to reform the band, and she just kept slamming the door on them. She didn’t want anything to do with it.
Natalie: And that’s closing them off from a lot of money as well I would imagine that they could probably use because without her there is no Fugees.
Patrick: Yes. And there were moves to do a TV show around the reunion of the Fugees and I was actually going to be the person doing therapy with them.
Natalie: Oh, really?
Patrick: The idea was that we’re going to get back together, and I was going to come in and try to heal the relationships between them, but no one could get her to agree. Pras and Wyclef just couldn’t get her to even consider it. This was a couple of years ago, just before she made the decision to say, “Hey, I’m going to start performing again.” But from some other clients and friends of mine that have connected to her that are musicians, they she’s now starting to perform because her children are older and because she wants the money and because she missed the actual expression of her art.
Natalie: If you didn’t know this situation at all and you’re just an outsider looking at her behavior, what would you chalk it up to, the reclusiveness and then the lateness and the wanting to be called Ms. Hill? Would you diagnose somebody like her with having a personality disorder? What would you say the nature of the issue is?
Patrick: The first thing is that I don’t believe in labeling people or diagnosing them and sort of saying, “Look, you’re a victim of this.” I like to look at what motivates your behavior. So if you’re acting this way, what is it? And I think Lauryn has always been someone who didn’t want to be put in a box. She didn’t want to be controlled. She rebelled against what she called the music machine against the industry. She felt that it didn’t allow her to be real, that it didn’t allow her to express her real self.
That was one of the reasons why she stopped. She thought that she’s being controlled by the record label. She didn’t like the fact that she couldn’t go out in public and just be herself. She didn’t like the judgment and yet what she did like was that the music gave her an avenue and a vehicle to really express not just her emotions but her ideologies, her thoughts, her beliefs. “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” was definitely about her ideologies – about equality, about spirituality, about evolving. I mean that was the whole concept, the education of – and even in the album – about educating children, about love and about acceptance.
So those were things what were very important to her. And then of course you recall in 2003 how she created the controversy when she came out and attacked the Catholic Church for pedophilia. So she’s always been a person who has wanted a free voice and to not be afraid.
Natalie: So her behavior seems almost rational then when you put it in that way, but I wonder; would you describe the way she’s reacting as irrational in response to the pressure she was under or does it go beyond that?
Patrick: Here’s the first thing. It’s very hard to say that any extremely creative artistic person is truly rational. That doesn’t mean that they have a disorder, but they’re not like the average person. The whole reason that we love all these people is because they are different. Lady Gaga calls our attention because, yes, she shocks; yes, maybe she does some of it for shock value and; yes, Lady Gaga hides behind a mask. There’s a reason she covers herself with make-up; she obviously doesn’t like her own natural face and persona – so she does it for artistic expression but she also uses a mask.
But when you have someone like Lauryn who has such a big message and wants to get it out there, we can’t say to them, “Well, that’s like the girl next door.” No, it’s not. That person doesn’t want the same thing in life and she has never wanted to be controlled or told how to live. Look at her relationship with the children. She was having children to another married man. She’s never taken the conventional path.
So we can’t look at them and say, “Well, why aren’t you conventional?” Artists are not conventional. And very often it’s an artist’s dysfunctionality that creates great art or creates their great art. This was something I did with another band when I said to them “The greatest music, the greatest songs, the greatest art is always created from personal experience and personal pain. Write about your pain. Write about what you feel strongly about. Write about what you want to change. Write about what and how you want to impact others. “
So when dealing with those sorts of people – highly creative and artistic performers – you can’t look at them and expect them to be rational. Someone like Britney, you can expect to be rational because she’s not extreme or on the fringe – she is a mainstream singer; her expression and message is typical pop culture. It was “I’m happy. I’m singing. I’m dancing.” It’s boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. It’s the old Gilbert and Sullivan formula which is the classic formula for musicals. What I mean by that is you have pop singers who just sing about everyday stuff, basic stuff, falling in love, falling out of love, getting hurt.
Then you’ll have people like Lauryn Hill who have a much bigger message, about breaking beyond conventions. The way that I would say that maybe she slipped out of rationality was the way that she approached some things and the fact that she just dropped out. Again, unless there are some other specific incidents that you can share with me, I simply place her in a category of an artist. Salvador Dali was not a rational person by any means but he created some of the greatest art.
Natalie: The thing that I have thought about was the whole Brother Anthony thing where she seemed to have been…
Patrick: Oh, okay, yeah. There was the belief that he might have been a cult leader. I don’t know a lot about him, but I attribute that to stress – when they are experiencing extreme stress or have lost their way, just like many people do; when they’re experiencing extreme stress which they do because of touring, pressure to write, pressure to create, pressure to perform, pressure to sell, and most of all the pressure to fit into the expected image created by society, the record label, or as the artist calls it the ‘the machine.’ That also includes all of the managing execs and all of the entourage.
When they undergo that type of extreme pressure, they easily become susceptible to having an emotional breakdown. Lauryn was smart because she took time off to get herself together. When an artist is under extreme pressure and is close to an emotional breakdown, a nervous breakdown where the stress is just too much and they become vulnerable, it’s easy then to turn to someone who could be described as a cult leader.
[Editor’s note: Listen to the controversial interview Patrick Wanis gives to Michele Morrisette from PurQi.com about gurus, cults and brainwashing – exploring James Arthur Ray, Mahendra Trivedi, Charles Manson and more: http://Patrickwanis.com/RadioInterviews.asp#guruscultbrainwashing ]
Natalie: I haven’t heard anything about that in a couple of years though so that might not still be something she’s doing.
Patrick: No one has ever mentioned that to me other than what happened and that was quite a few years ago. I think we need to understand too that Lauryn Hill was someone who’s been through many phases. She was with Wyclef Jean, then she was with Rohan Marley and then she had children, then she had this huge success, and then she dropped out. We go through phases in life and I think – and this is where I’m a little bit different to other people – that I say you have to allow people, particularly artists, to go through their phases.
And let me say this also, there are big differences between a musician, a singer, a songwriter, and even a pop performer. You have people that are great singers and they simply take the song given to them and they just sing it with a beautiful voice. That’s very different than someone like Lauryn Hill who is a poet first. A lot of her work is about poetry; it’s about expression. And I put her in the same sort of category as Stevie Nicks.
And the reason I say this is Stevie Nicks brought out another album, “In Your Dreams” and she sees herself also primarily as a poet. She’s always had a message. She never liked working with anyone else even though she was with Fleetwood Mac. If you get to know a bit more about her she’ll tell you she would write the song and she didn’t want it changed. She believes in working solo even when she was with a band. Her latest collaboration was with Dave Stewart, the guy from the Eurythmics who was able to convince her to actually collaborate. She had the poetry already written.
So I’m saying that we need to also distinguish her from, say, a pop star. I would expect Britney Spears to have an emotional breakdown much sooner than I would Lauryn Hill. Why? Because Britney started very, very young, became popular at a very, very young age, had a lot of parasites around her – most people call them the entourage. I call them the parasites, the people that feed off her and give her whatever she says she wants even though it’s not what she needs. Does that make sense?
Natalie: Yes. And then not to take you too much into Britney but I am curious.
Patrick: Britney Spears’ recovery was directly attributable to the intervention by her parents on many levels, (1) because they took over the legal aspect of it and the operational aspect, and (2) because she started dealing with a lot of her emotional pain which related directly to her mother and father. A lot of people didn’t recognize this but Britney’s issues were directly attributable to her relationship with her father, Jamie, and then with her mother.
But I remember a few years ago saying that everyone missed this one instance when Britney in 2007 was saying that she felt betrayed. She said: “I am praying for my father. We have never had a good relationship. It’s sad that all the men that have been in my life do not know how to accept a real woman’s love. I am concentrating on my work and my life right now.” I listen for those things because they reveal a lot about the person and their subconscious drives, motivations and blocks.
It’s the same as what Jennifer Aniston said. Jennifer Aniston tells you immediately what her issues are but most people simply missed it. She has mentioned the fact that her parents divorced and that she just can’t trust people, and therefore that’s why she keeps going to people that will betray her and whom she can’t trust.
Natalie: It seems more and more likely that that may be the case with Britney.
Patrick: What? That she still has a lot of issues?
Patrick: It’s hard to tell because she was at a charity event somewhere in the south, sometime ago. She looked like she had it together. She sounded very together. She was able to be in an interview with Ryan Seacrest. She seemed very together there. And this woman performed. She went on tour.
The hardest thing for any artist, the greatest mental, emotional, and physical challenge that any artist faces is being on the road and performing because you’re away from your home, you’re under a lot of physical pressure, you’re under a lot of emotional pressure, and you’re under the pressure to perform. It’s long hours; you’re tired and you have to turn it on every day. You’re touring; you’re rehearsing. That’s the hardest thing. And if she can survive that, in my opinion, she’s got to be mentally and emotionally healthy. Otherwise, she would have that breakdown at that time and someone would have carried her away.
Natalie: And that brings us back to Lauryn Hill, and I’m taking up far too much of your time, but I so appreciate this. She’s on the road now with Will and obviously, like you say, it’s probably because she needs money. But I mean would you not recommend that or do you think for her it might be good therapy?
Patrick: Well, I think it’s great therapy for her because she’s been gone for a long time – she was a recluse – she was a recluse for a few years and then stayed out of the public eye for a few more years. Being a recluse can be very beneficial but it can also be quite dangerous. It’s beneficial when someone is guiding you and you have process of self-discovery. But if you are just blocking out the world and isolating yourself without doing any introspection, it can be quite harmful because then all you’re doing is blocking out people and you’re losing connection, relationship and bonding with people.
But I think it’s positive for her because her children are a little older now. I think she has five children. They’re older now. I think that she’ll have a new message. And now she’s at the point where she’s able to select who she’s going to perform with. And so she has carefully selected who she’s going to perform with. So I think this is positive for her even though, yes, touring is the most challenging and the most draining and stressful event for any artist. But I think for her it’s going to be good because it’s going to give her a chance to get her voice back. I’ll just say this and then let me know if you have any other questions.
Most people, Natalie, who become singers, become singers because they didn’t have a voice. Boy George says that. He says that at home when he was growing up, he was raised not to speak – be seen but not be heard. And he grew up in a very strict family, and his parents wouldn’t let him say anything. And so how does he rebel? He responds with behavior that says, ‘I’m going to be androgynous. I’m going to be asexual. You can’t tell if I’m a boy or a girl and then I’m going to sing so I can have a voice.’
I also have other high profile clients and I have some clients who will tell you that the reason they became singers or actors or performers was to compensate for what they didn’t get. They didn’t have a voice. They weren’t free to express themselves. So what they’re trying to do is compensate for that because they felt depressed, they felt shut down. In fact, I have a client that I was just doing a session with yesterday on that very topic who says, “My whole life I wanted to be a singer.” She’s very successful, very rich, doing really well, and she says to me, “My real passion is I want to sing.” And in using the new path of therapy that I’m doing, I uncover with her, her real motivation: Her own words to me are, “My father oppressed me. I never had a voice.” I said, “Isn’t that interesting. What have you been telling me? What do you want to do? You want to sing. Why is that? Because it gives you a voice.”
Patrick: Does that make sense?
Natalie: Wow, yes.
Patrick: I mean, Natalie, sometimes to me it’s very much commonsense when you can uncover the real motivations behind the behavior. But to some other people it’s like, “Wow, that’s pretty wild.”
Natalie: Well, do you think that she can actually have a voice in a public arena again like have a comeback?
Natalie: Could you see the public embracing her again?
Patrick: I think the public has wanted her to come back, but the public has really wanted her to come back with the Fugees.
Patrick: The Fugees were just such a great musical force and they’re quite influential. Lauryn also influenced a lot of people with her solo album. Adele openly says that The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is her favorite Record album ever. Adele said “I remember it being huge everywhere. Even though I was pretty young and oblivious, I was very aware of how successful that record was. I was a big fan of Lauryn Hill when she was in the Fugees anyway and that was a record I grew up listening to…I analyzed that record for a month and was constantly wondering when I’d be that passionate about something to write a record about.” And she said that Lauryn’s lyrics that “are some of the deepest lyrics ever.”
And that creates extraordinary pressure for the artist – for Lauryn because when you create this one masterpiece, forever and ever, everyone expects you to create another masterpiece that is even better. And that’s always the hardest thing for any artist and it usually leads to their downfall because then they say, ‘I just can’t create this. I can’t come up with something better.’
So for Lauryn, and any artist, the challenge is to be able to accept her new work; and not to try to recreate or outdo that masterpiece but to say, “I’m happy with whatever I create.” Every artist has to come to terms with themselves – ‘when is enough, enough?’ Can I just keep creating and be happy with that or do I have to win five Grammy awards so that I can feel validated?
Patrick: But I also don’t believe that any artist has to ever retire but I do think that they need to evolve. For example, Steven Tyler doesn’t need to be performing anymore, and now he’s a judge, he could be mentoring other people, et cetera. But I also do believe that artists peak and they usually peak when they’re in the very center, the core of their message. Once an artist runs out of something to say, then they’ve had their day. Do you know what I mean by that?
Natalie: Yes. And something tells me that Lauryn Hill hasn’t gotten to that point yet.
Patrick: I think she still has more to say. She did the MTV Unplugged 2.0 which did receive some good reviews in terms of her poetry. I don’t know what else new she’s done, but I think that being a mother and having time away gives her an opportunity now to express something new. That’s the same thing with Stevie Nicks. Stevie Nicks is in her 60s, but she’s been gone for ten years. So in those ten years, she must have written a lot of material, a lot of poetry. So I myself am curious about what she’s created.
What makes an artist great is when they have something to say. I actually got that from the creator of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberté. He looks at all different people — jugglers and dancers and performers and contortionists and other unique performers. He said, “When I’m looking at artists, when I’m auditioning I look at them and ask, ‘Do you have something to say?’” And he’s not talking specifically about a verbal message – it can be a message of emotion or it can be some other sort of deeper message. It doesn’t necessarily have to be expressed with words. You know a performer is great when he or she has a powerful or unique message, or it is expressed in a unique way.
Lady Gaga made a huge entry and was welcomed and embraced in an extraordinary way because she had something to say. She has something to say. She’ll run out of things to say unless she keeps evolving. If she just keeps doing the same thing with covering one eye and putting on wild make-up and wild hair, she’ll run out of things to say and then people will get bored. That’s what happened with Charlie Sheen. He ran out of things to say. You have to keep evolving and have a message and have something new to say, something that is relevant, timely, something that impacts.
Natalie: Wow! Well, thank you so much for this. One final question: I wonder if there’s something more that went on behind the scenes of the Fugees that we didn’t know about like back in the day to make her Lauryn Hill so serious about not reuniting with the band.
Patrick: Well, there are a couple of things. In Lauryn’s letter about the music business, she talks about oppressive forces that tried to manipulate her but she never names anyone. With regards to the Fugees, in any group of people, there will always be personality clashes. Then when you’re talking about an artistic band, an artistic group, whatever form of artistic collaboration, there will always be artistic and creative clashes and differences. You’ve got those two things that are part of a dynamic of any band, personality clashes and creative clashes. And then there is also money and fame involved – that changes everything!
And then with the Fugees, there was a romantic connection and relationship between Wyclef and Lauryn so then there’s going to be another clash. One of the few that conquered that challenge is Fleetwood Mac. Fleetwood Mac was the enigma, Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood. Stevie Nicks — yeah. I mean that was rare but they paid the price for that too. It was a very incestuous dynamic between all of them. And that’s part of what probably drove a lot of the emotional turmoil that they experienced.
Natalie: Good point. Well, this is so, so helpful, and I appreciate it.
Patrick: I’m always happy to share something as long as we can get at a positive message and enlighten people.
Natalie: Perfect. Thank you so, so much for all your help. This has been amazing.