Live: Nicki Minaj Takes Off From Summer Jam, Nas And Lauryn Hill Climb Aboard

Jen Diaz/Hot 97
Lauryn Hill.
Hot 97 Summer Jam: Nicki Minaj, Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, J. Cole, Wale, Meek Mill, DJ Khaled, Waka Flocka, Trey Songz, Maino, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, French Montana, Mavado, Tyga, Slaughterhouse (and Nas and Lauryn Hill)
MetLife Stadium
Sunday, June 3

Better than: Seeing a Nicki Minaj concert.

In an era of increasing separation and ever-tinier attention spans, it's almost quaint to celebrate a tradition like Hot 97's Summer Jam with 60,000 of your closest friends.

Each year, Summer Jam means a sunny early afternoon heading over to the Meadowlands, the constant threat of rain during the afternoon hours, a few rap songs here and there with rappers featuring other rappers, walking into a chilly night leaving the show, and general ratchetness in the parking lot before, during, and after the concert.

Oh, and drama! Plenty of drama—which, in the years since Jay-Z vs. Nas evaporated, has turned into yawn vs. shrug.

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Live: Lauryn Hill Gives Her Debut A Makeover At Rock The Bells

Rock The Bells: Ms. Lauryn Hill
Governors Island
Saturday, September 3

Better than: Lauryn Hill's performance at Rock the Bells last year.

Creating a classic album is a double-edged sword. Fans expect its songs to be performed the same way in perpetuity, regardless of how the artist's musical and personal state have altered since recording. This is just one of the trials that has plagued Lauryn Hill's career since her debut The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill came out in 1998.

To say that Hill has changed over the years is an understatement; only a husk of the girl next door from New Jersey, whose lyrical dexterity breezed effortlessly between sweet harmonies and a venomous flow that could put any male emcee to shame, remains. This can be chalked up in part to the passage of time; Miseducation was released over a decade ago. (The inspiration behind the heartfelt "To Zion" is now a teenager.) Despite the overwhelming evidence—being notoriously late for concerts, garish makeup, tiffs with former Fugees members, that on-again-off-again relationship with Marley scion Rohan—that they should maybe raise the white flag, loyalists remain steadfast that the singer/rapper will one day regain her former glory. The realist in me knows that this is a pipe dream, especially after witnessing firsthand her frenetic and off-key live performance at Rock the Bells 2010, but color me hip-hop optimistic; I (desperately) wanted to give the beleaguered artist another chance at redemption this year.

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Rock The Bells NYC Lineup Updated; Erykah Badu To Perform Baduizm

Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m. for the New York City stop of the Rock The Bells Festival, which will take place on September 3 at Governors Island. The lineup for the all-star hip-hop concert, during which a slew of heavyweights (Nas, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Raekwon & Ghostface) will revisit albums from their respective catalogs, has been fleshed out a bit more, and the news that Erykah Badu will both appear at the NYC stop of the four-date festival tour and perform her 1997 debut Baduizm is very welcome. Full New York lineup (as it stands now) below.

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Ms. Lauryn Hill And Nas To Headline Rock The Bells Festival, Which Hits NYC In September

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The Rock The Bells festival returns to the New York area with a Sept. 3 date at Governor's Island. This year's installment is headed up by a slew of full-album sets that includes run-throughs of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Illmatic (which Nas will perform with AZ, Pete Rock and DJ Premier), Only Built For Cuban Linx, and quite a few other storied hip-hop records. There'll also be a battle stage and a "36 Chambers stage," which "will primarily feature members of the Wu-Tang Clan as well as artists selected by stage curator and Wu-Tang Clan mainstay RZA." Tickets go on presale next Friday, June 3, with the general on-sale set for June 4. Full roster of performers after the jump.

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Live: Lauryn Hill, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close At The Blue Note

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Still capable of defecating on your microphone, surprisingly. Pics by Santiago Felipe, more below.
Lauryn Hill
The Blue Note
Monday, January 3

Better Than: You had any right to expect

The bad news always comes first with Lauryn Hill. And so. Initial advertised start time: 8 p.m. Revised start time as of this evening: 11. Mood at 10:05: anxious. (Two different Blue Note folks use the words "hopefully," "start," and "eleven" in a sentence while I'm taking off my coat.) PA announcement at 11:05: "Lauryn will be on really soon." ("Is that five minutes or less?" someone shouts; "10 minutes?" comes the answer.) 11:23: a DJ shows up to "set a nice mystical mood." (Which involves lots of Bob Marley.) 11:42: the band appears, crowding the tiny stage, and starts idly vamping. 11:50: The couple next to me, who I learn have been sitting there since 7:15, leaves in disgust, explaining that they have a train to catch, the male half noting diplomatically that "That's how Lauryn is." 11:57: Lauryn steps onstage. I feel terrible for those poor people who left, both because they missed the show, and because the show itself was actually fantastic.

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Lauryn Hill Added Another Local Date, At The Wellmont Theatre

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The Lauryn Hill comeback is in furious motion, folks -- make that four local-ish venues she'll be playing in the next couple months. Along with her sold-out Bowery Balloom and Music Hall of Williamsburg shows (and her trio of dates at the Blue Note in early January), she's tacked on an additional show, in mid-February, at a spot further afield but way, way bigger, at least.

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Lauryn Hill Is Playing The Blue Note January 3-5, Tickets On Sale Today

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Here comes Lauryn Hill again, everyone -- after gracing us with her presence at August's Rock the Bells retro hip-hop spectacular at Governors Island (which was either a total disaster or a fount of "majestic retro-future space-metal," depending on your inclinations), she's suddenly playing a mess of NYC dates in the next several weeks -- to her gigs Dec. 28 at Music Hall of Williamsburg and Jan. 1 at Bowery Ballroom, you can now add three dates at an even more intimate venue.

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Lauryn Hill, Whose Set At Rock The Bells Was Probably Better Than You Think, Attempts To Explain Herself On Fuse Tonight

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The woman of the hour, polarizing the Governors Island masses last Saturday. Pic by Rebecca Smeyne.
So despite months of confusion and trepidation, Lauryn Hill really did play a full set at Governors Island Saturday as part of the Rock the Bells festival's vintage hip-hop blowout -- and our own Christopher R. Weingarten, for one, loved it, hailing it as a triumph of "majestic retro-future space-metal." Which is apparently as polarizing as it sounds -- it's hard not to conclude that everyone else hated it. Tonight, she gets a chance to retort.

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Live: Rating Rock the Bells Sets From Slick Rick, Wu-Tang Clan, Lauryn Hill, A Tribe Called Quest, Snoop Dogg, and More

Oh, hey Q-Tip. All photos by Rebecca Smeyne.
On a sweltering Saturday, the seventh annual hip-hop nerd convention Rock The Bells took over Governor's Island. It's a place where people know to "throw a one in the air" for Guru before DJ Premier even asked, a place where you can overhear a convo about whether Mos Def or Talib Kweli would be cooler to hang out with, a place where VIP ticket buyers actually get brand new backpacks. This year, the fest tapped into All Tomorrow's Parties-style nostalgia market of "Don't Look Back," and asked six legendary rap artists to perform their legendary albums in their entirety. We sweated in a field for nearly 11 ½ hours--with zero breaks for food, water, or Port-O-Potty, no joke--to see how well these albums translated to a live setting.

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Snoop Dogg, A Tribe Called Quest, DJ Premier, And, Yes, Lauryn Hill Added To Rock The Bells Lineup

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Well, this has been somewhat of a confusing rollout. The news: Snoop (doing Doggystyle in its entirety), Tribe (doing Midnight Marauders), and DJ Premier (doing a Gang Starr tribute that'll probably be the highlight of the whole thing) have been added to the bill (already loaded with Wu Tang, Slick Rick, Rakim, KRS-One, and so forth) for hip-hop nostalgia-fest Rock the Bells, which hits a handful of cities later this summer, including a Governors Island date August 28. Also appearing: the ever-volatile Lauryn Hill (as a "very special guest," which is a dangerous phrase) doing "a unique set exclusively for Rock the Bells," which could theoretically mean "a scintillating mix of Fugees and Miseducation of Lauryn Hill tracks," or maybe just "whatever the fuck Lauryn feels like doing at that precise moment."

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