At this spring's EMP Pop Conference, I sat in on a discussion sparked by ex-XXL Magazine editor-in-chief and creator of RapRadar.com Elliot Wilson that was joined by critics like Robert Christgau and Ann Powers. When talking about feminism and hip-hop, any conversation has to eventually approach the reclusive and at-least-a-little-crazy Lauryn Hill, who all but vanished after leaving the Fugees with 1998's hit record The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The entire panel basically agreed on one thing: that because of her implosion and disappearance the place for women (and for that matter, feminism) in rap music has been far more restricted, and that it instead directed many talented female artists toward R&B. Don't even bring Nicki Minaj into this.
A few days ago, NPR's Zoe Chace got the rare chance to actually interview the notoriously press-shy Hill, resulting in a feature called "The Many Voices of Lauren Hill" that gets firsthand insight on her health ("I have to take care of myself in order to take care of this gift which has affected so many"), her potential future ("If I do record again, perhaps it will have an expanded context where people can hear a bit more") and most importantly why she disappeared from music ("the support system that I needed was not necessarily in place"). You can read the whole thing, listen to interview tape and read a transcript here.