Lauryn Hill has addressed her recent tax problems in an open letter to her fans.
Last July, Hill pleaded guilty to three charges of failing to file federal income tax returns. The following month saw a further string of tax charges to the tune of $440,000. All the charges related to 2005-7, with each carrying up to a year in prison. Having pleaded guilty, Hill faced a $968,000 tax bill and a possible custodial sentence; however, yesterday it was reported that Hill had signed a new deal with Sony worth around a million dollars, and will take out a $650,000 loan in order to begin repaying her debts.
In Hill’s letter, posted on Tumblr last night, she explains that “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.” She goes on to claim that the “million-dollar” side of the million-dollar deal isn’t strictly accurate:
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.
If Hil does release a new album, it will be her first since 2002’s MTV Unplugged, though she did release a new single last year, titled ‘Black Rage’.