News: Wyclef Jean Addresses Lauryn Hill's Million Dollar Problem

Thursday, May 2, 2013 2:55PM

Written by Cyrus Langhorne

The Fugees' Wyclef Jean has offered his take on estranged group member Lauryn Hill's tax problems and why her decision to accept a deal with Sony Music could be a great career boost.

Although brief with his words, 'Clef said he believed Hill's Sony LP would be nothing short of great and suggested she learn to keep good company around her.

Ms. Hill has been facing serious tax trouble, but on April 26, Lauryn announced that via her Tumblr that she signed a new deal with Sony that will allow her to pay her tax debt. "I wish her the best, I think she's going to have a great album," Wyclef said on Wednesday (May 1) when he appeared on "RapFix Live." 'Clef says he's able to relate. In 2010, he was hit with a $2.5 million tax lien. "You're going to have ups and downs and in the industry," he said. The multiplatinum rapper/producer, who just dropped his April Showers mixtape, offered a bit of advice for his one-time music partner and lover. "What I learned in the industry is just make sure that you surround yourself with the best people. Not people that's just gonna tell you what you want to hear, but people that's going to tell you the truth," he said suggesting that somewhere down the road that Lauryn took some bad business advice. "You develop a God complex. Trust me when I tell you that." (MTV)

Last week, Hill penned an open letter to fans and explained exactly what is going on with her.

"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. 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." (Ms Lauryn Hill Tumblr)

Lauryn also hinted at the misperception of how much money has landed in her pockets considering the amount of records she has sold.

"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." (Ms Lauryn Hill Tumblr)

Earlier the same week, Hill received additional time to get her finances in place before being sentenced in her tax case.

Lauryn Hill just bought herself a couple weeks of freedom. The R&B legend was to be sentenced to prison today after pleading guilty to blowing off her 2005-2007 tax returns ... but the sentencing was moved to May 6 to give Lauryn a chance to repay a chunk of her $968,000 tax debt. Hill's attorney said the singer recently signed a million-dollar recording deal with Sony ... she was also planning to take out a $650,000 loan to put toward the bill. Hill faces several years in prison ... but her attorney is hoping for probation. (TMZ)

Last month, reports claimed Lauryn wanted leniency in her tax evasion case.

After pleading guilty to tax evasion last June, multiple Grammy winner and former Fugee Lauryn Hill is making one last ditch effort to avoid jail time. In advance of her scheduled sentencing this Monday, April 22, Hill filed legal documents requesting that her sentence be limited to probation, as it would make it easier for her to pay back the bill she owes for the three years--2005, 2006, and 2007--she did not file taxes. Over those three years, Hill earned a reported $1.8 million, but the documents explain she did not pay the IRS because she "withdrew from society at large due to what she perceived as manipulation and very real threats to herself and her family." (Entertainment Weekly)

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