So Lauryn Hill has these lyrics from a song called “Manifest” which was on The Fugees “The Score” record, and then on a version of Ex-Factor, a song from her Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill record. A couple of the lines are also recycled on the song When It Hurts So Bad, on that same record.
I’m also guilty of this kind of recycling. In a way I was covering my own song. A cover song. But where you cover yourself? Or was I just lazy and recycled lyrics? Honestly, it was really the latter.
But anyway, above is my original. I recycled the lyrics on Bleed in a totally different song called 0912.
It’s so obviously not a cover. It’s a totally different song. No theme is even remotely derived from the original. I just re-used the lyrics. Why would I do such a thing?
Because, as my friend Larry quotes a lot, “writer’s block is the luxury of amateurs”. And frankly, I figured no one had heard the original anyway, so no one would care or even notice, plus I wasn’t getting paid or anything. I used to always slam Lauryn Hill for it, but if you know the whole story, it’s not so bad, really. The version of Ex-Factor where she does the rap is actually an edit where they’ve (somebody) has gone and spliced in a live show where she’s doing that rap. It seems that anything goes in live shows. I’ve done so many crazy different versions of poems and raps and songs it’s hilarious. She does just reuse a couple of lines in that other song, but’s only like two lines.
But I still think this was pretty hypocritical and lazy of me. My only defense is that 0912, I think, is much better executed, and the lyrics are actually kind of important non-violence lyrics pointing out the cycle of domination and machismo that is such a problem in this country. And I was actually really fascinated by the fact that even though when I did 0912, I was just starting to learn how to not be a macho abusive jerk, I had actually already laid out the whole thing more than 10 years earlier.
My other friend Tamara always said that her poetry knew things long before she did, and it appears the same thing could be said about me.
Anyway, I’m going to from now on try to hold myself to the same standard as I held Lauryn Hill, especially considering I want to be a professional, so I won’t be taking already used lyrics and recycling them wholesale in songs. I might re-mix, re-release, or even cover my old stuff, but I won’t cop out anymore, ok?
Oh, I’ll show you the Lauryn Hill stuff. The original:
Skip to about 1:13 to hear Lauryn’s verse. By the way, for the record, I LOVE that verse. It’s heartfelt and VERY complex to perform, and I eventually memorized and learned to do it along with her, and it was very very good practice, as well as a moving verse. That’s why I noticed in the first place. It doesn’t have anything to do with what Praz and Wyclef are saying, but near as I can tell, those two guys are relatively stupid anyway. *flutters eyelids*
Here’s a version of Ex-Factor where she indeed does use the whole Manifest rap:
Toward the end at about 2:55 is where the splice is.
Here’s When It Hurts So Bad, which bites the first couple Manifest lines: