Sway Calls Lauryn Hill’s Rock The Bells’ Set A ‘Defining Moment’


By Sway Calloway

I think the defining moment of the Rock the Bells concert really had to be Lauryn Hill’s performance. I mean, there’s always been such a mystique surrounding Lauryn post-The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album and tour. She drifted off into what people considered to be obscurity. But I personally think she just drifted off into life. You know, she had children and family and probably was going through her own transition in terms of who she is and where she was in the music business.

So, with that being said, her coming to Rock the Bells, I think even seeing the lineup advertised, people still weren’t sure if it was actually going to happen. And to witness her band even setting up onstage, I think that got the entire grounds of the NOS Events center in Cali rumbling. It was just a buzz like, ‘Wow, she’s actually here!’ I knew firsthand she would be there because I saw her soundcheck the night before, and it was absolutely amazing. Her soundcheck was better than most performers’ actual stage shows. I think when she first came out (I didn’t see the beginning of the show because I was backstage interviewing Rakim), well, by the time I did come out, she was singing “Ex-Factor.” You just really saw 20,000 to 25,000 people just in awe, magnetized by her presence.

She wore an all-black outfit with a red hat and some banging-ass shoes and proceeded to just orchestrate a musical demonstration that moved to its own beat. She did several renditions of songs from The Miseducation which, if any there were any, might have been the only drawback. A fan tweeted me, her name was @SoCalVixen, and she said it felt like Lauryn was rushing through her set. The first three songs, at least, she made it through in 5 minutes. @SoCalVixen said to her and many in the crowd it seemed as if Hill had somewhere else to go.

Hit the jump to see a flip book of Lauryn from the concert and to read more of what Sway has to say about Rock The Bells.

But I think there were time constraints and also the renditions, you know, whenever an artist performs a song that you’ve grown to love and they perform it in a way that’s unfamiliar, I think it’s often a bit of a letdown for the audience. But Lauryn is the kind of artist who has always been ahead of the curve and in a stratosphere all her own. So when she remixes or re-does her own music, I think you just have to appreciate the brilliance in it and stay in the moment and see where she’s going to take it. She has so many hit records.

What I do know is that when she started to perform “Fugee La” and “Ready or Not” from The Score, her multiplatinum album with the Fugees, the place erupted. People wanna remember those feelings of nostalgia, relive how they felt when those songs first came out. And I think she really captured that mood. At the end of the day, I think she really gave people what they came for. And I think we’re going to see her stage show evolve even more as this tour proceeds.

It’s been a year of comebacks — Kanye West, Eminem, Lauryn Hill — I really feel like we’re on the brink of a musical revolution. The next few years, we’re going to be treated to a series of great musical moments. At Rock the Bells, though, Lauryn Hill (and Snoop Dogg) put on the most complete show of all the performers, the most entertaining. Snoop going through that Doggystyle album was the concert equivalent of Jay-Z being at Madison Square Garden.

But Lauryn Hill delivered the day’s defining moment.

Were you at the Rock The Bells concert? What did you think of Lauryn Hill’s performance? Let us know in the comments!