I had a crush on Lauryn Hill. I mean, L-Boogie. That’s the girl I met in a conference room at Columbia Records back in late 1993. Truth be told, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. My dream ego trip wasn’t yet a reality so when I was asked to do an intv for David Paul’s The Bomb magazine (It was a popular Bay Area rap zine and YN was one of the few east coast heads allowed to have a byline or two) on a “Public Enemy-like political trio” called the Fugees Tranzlator Crew—my broke ass jumped at the chance.
I was taught from somebody I can’t remember that after you finish interviewing someone you get the subject’s contact numbers and ask if you can ring them later for any additional questions and/or fact checking. It was obvious that after polishing off some Chinese take-out with the slept-on rap trio from Jersey, that I was gonna go in for the kill. After gettin’ math from a charming Clef and an animated Pras, the cutie with the braids tucked under her bandana hit me with the digits. Boy was the kid ecstatic. Dreams of fuckin’ a beautiful rap chick! It’s not like the female MCs back then were really walking the straight line, ‘knawmean?
I called her at her mama’s house. She called me at my mama’s house. I called her at her Columbia University dorm room. She would put me on hold forever. We would try to make plans but she was so damn busy. Then I blew it before I even really had a shot. She caught me on the phone one night and I was honest about my whereabouts. “Actually it’s kinda funny I just came home from a Hoez With Attitude party at a strip club. It was bugged.” I can still remember the momentary silence on the other end. Simply put: Things were never the same.
To her my name was Markie. Just a friend. Oblivious to the fact that right under my nose at the time the apple of Lauryn’s eye was her rhyme partner Wyclef. Things became more clearer at a Vibe Music Seminar in ’95 when Sacha Jenkins and I ran into the Haitian Sensation in the men’s. He told us about the big plans the group had for The Score. How they were taking control of their career. Self-producing and writing their own songs. Their vision. Their way. He promised the album would change all the minds of the non-believers. Damn that, where’s Lauryn?
A half hour later I finally feasted my eyes on the prize. She looked more ravishing than Rick Rhude. We had a brief convo and I was open like Buckshot Shorty. Later, it was time to bounce but I couldn’t without saying goodbye to my gal pal. So tipsy off the free liquor I gave her a cheek peck good night. What I didn’t realize at the time was I was interrupting a lover’s quarrel. The look Clef shot me could cut diamonds—conflict ones.
Months later, Score drops. Clef was right. I accept an assignment from Paper magazine to step into the Booga Basement. Screw my infatuation—this is great hip-hop music. And I’m proud that the promising group I met delivered. Still I wanted my moment of clarity. So after my reunion with Lauryn (the magic was gone), the obligatory 15 minutes with Pras, I get my private time with Mr. Jean. With his bandmates out the room, I finally muster up the courage to ask him what’s up with him and ole girl. He denies all charges but needs work on his pokerface. I never saw Lauryn again.
Y’all know rest of the tale: Clef breaks her heart. She makes great album. A Marley scoops her up. They make a lot of babies. He and/or fame drive her crazy. She retreats from limelight. Makes a brilliantly confused unplugged record. Disappears again. And now we have the return of the Fugees. Yipee! Now excuse me if I’m not doing naked cartwheels (I see you darling, this is all in the rear-view) but I haven’t seen the Dave Chappelle movie yet. I did see the BET awards and they sounded bad meaning bad not bad meaning good. “Take It Easy”? It didn’t please me. “Foxy,” ain’t much better. And there’s something really haunting and disturbing about them Verizon ads? That’s all about a dollar, where the fuck is 50 Cent?
Today, I’m no Talib Kwel and I’m sure Ms. Hill (I would never call her that) has no recollection of ever even meeting me. If she does she’s probably salty at XXL for running a story on the cats that sued her over their work on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill awhile back. Either way, I no longer fawn over her. Shorty’s wig collection is outta control, I’m locked down and Grand Puba advised me never to hit skinz if the skinz got a kid. Be a father to your child.
P.S. A day before the strip club incident, it was at a HWA press luncheon at New York’s Shark Bar that I met Vibe‘s Rob Kenner. Thus began my career of cashing freelance checks for not only small books but major ones too. Lose the girl—gain a career.