As part of a tribute album featuring huge names like Common and Mary J. Blige, Lauryn Hill has recorded her own version of a pair of classic songs by the late, great Nina Simone. She tackles the old standard Feeling Good, a song you’ll know even if you haven’t heard the Simone original (or Michael Bublé‘s soulless hatchet job of a cover); Jay-Z and Kanye West sampled it brilliantly on New Day from Watch The Throne.
Wow. Holy shit actually. Nobody will ever match the raw sultriness of Simone’s original rendition, but Lauryn Hill comes damn close. Her voice, absolutely smoky, never falters once, the a capella introduction giving me absolute chills. I love that song but pretty much all of the covers up until this point have missed the mark pretty wide (looking at you, Muse). Lauryn Hill has absolutely nailed it here though. Damn.
The tribute album comes out on July 10, and will follow on from a new documentary about Nine Simone, which premieres on Netflix this June 26.
On top of that, she released a snippet of another song to feature on that album today finding her rapping over the top of a sample of Simone’s 1968 single Ain’t Got No, I Got Life.
The lyrics are politically-charged and deeply reflective, Hill flowing ‘Watch the words, how they twist them/Two-thirds of the world turned victim/Subtle energy that capture and block chi/The unseen violence behind a democracy/Some call it hypocrisy’.
Coming just days after the travesty in Charleston, there is so much extra meaning behind these lyrics and it’s beyond powerful. Many artists have responded in their own ways to the tragic events, and one would have to wonder what Simone, a noted civil rights activist in her time, would have made of the current state of racial equality in the United States.
Hill was only slated to work on two tracks on the tribute album, but will now appear on a further four. If they’re anywhere near as good as the first two, I can’t wait.
Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is probably one of the greatest neo-soul albums of all time – we documented our love for it in a recent edition of Flashback Friday. She will also be appearing at this year’s Soulfest, along with Miguel, Mary J Blige, Black Star and more. Full details here.