MTV Unplugged No. 2.0
April 3, 2019
Clip of Sting and Whitney Houston presenting the Album of the Year Grammy at the 1999 Grammy Awards
Sting: And the Album of the Year is...
Audience member: Lauryn Hill!
An excited Whitney Houston jumps up, points at the audience member and silently cheers as Sting announces...
Sting: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Lauryn Hill.
Todd: Alright, let's take it back.
Clip of Lauryn Hill - "Doo Wop (That Thing)"
Lauryn Hill: Yo, remember back on the boogie when cats used to harmonize like...
Todd (VO): I can think of maybe a handful of performers in my lifetime who were simultaneously as popular and as acclaimed as Lauryn Hill.
Clip of The Fugees - "Fugee La"
Lauryn: Ooh la la la
When she broke through in 1996 as part of the Fugees, she was immediately recognized as the standout of the group and...
Todd: ...a superstar in the making.
Video for Lauryn Hill -"Everything is Everything"
Todd (VO): She more than confirmed those predictions two years later with her landmark solo debut, [album cover of...] The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Todd: It was a gigantic hit with the public and an even bigger hit with the critics.
Clips of Lauryn accepting the Grammy award for Album of the Year
Todd (VO): She won all the awards. [clip of Doo Wop (That Thing)"] Lauryn was fierce, thoughtful, inspiring. And her eclectic blend of hip-hop, R&B, pop, reggae and folk was so poised and confident that it seemed to predict a long and fruitful career of classic music.
Todd: And it never came.
Clip of Lauryn Hill - "The Ex Factor"
Lauryn: It could all be so simple...
Todd (VO): Fans waited patiently for Lauryn Hill to go into the studio so they can hear what other amazing songs she had cooking up and they waited...
Todd: ...and waited.
Todd (VO): Months became years, years became decades and nothing's ever materialized.
Clip of Lauryn speaking to a group of students
Todd (VO): And the lack of output was compounded by rumors of a declining mental state. Reports of instability that never got better and continue to this day.
Todd: Lots of great artists have been called crazy of course, but...
Clip of a Lauryn Hill interview during her heyday
Todd (VO): ...it's a lot easier for their fans to swallow that when they're still being productive. Whatever is going on with Lauryn, it crippled her creative drive.
Todd: Very likely permanently.
Another clip of "Ex Factor"
Lauryn: How can I explain myself?
Todd: I guess it's possible she'll pull a Harper Lee and release a follow-up when she's 80.
Todd (VO): But until the day that Lauryn improbably wanders out of the studio with a finished record, her legacy will have to be restricted to her debut...
Todd: Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. One album. That's all you get. [beat] Except...
Clip of Lauryn on MTV Unplugged No. 2.0
Todd (VO): In 2002, with fans ravenous for more Lauryn and no new album on the horizon, her label began hyping up the live recording of her performance on MTV's Unplugged 2.0 as the official, unofficial, follow-up to Miseducation.
Todd: It is to date...
Todd (VO): ...the only new material Lauryn Hill has released in the 20-plus years since her solo debut.
Clip of performance of "Mr. Intentional"
Lauryn: See the road to hell, is paid with good intentions
To put it mildly, it did not receive the rapturous acclaim of her first album.
Todd: In fact you could more accurately call it [image of a review giving the album zero stars with the zero stars circled in red] a permanent stain on her image and for reasons that went well beyond the songs.
Todd: I could sit here and describe the quality of her music but it wouldn't quite capture that concert.
Todd (VO): Entertainment Weekly called it [shots of Entertainment Weekly article with quotes highlighted...] "baffling on so many levels" and "the most bizarre follow-up in the history of pop".
Todd: It didn't just reflect badly on her as an artist but as a person.
Todd (VO): Even now, after two decades of [clip of another interview showing...] erratic behavior, [shot of article headline...] no show concerts, her ever-extending creative drought [shot of magazine cover with headline: "Sentenced To 3 Months In...] and prison...
Todd: I don't think there's a single thing that has done more damage to Lauryn Hill's reputation than Unplugged 2.0.
Clip of Lauryn in Unplugged 2.0
Lauryn: I don't know, you know, what the press is saying because I don't really listen to the press too much but I noted, you know...the view is, I'm like emotionally unstable, which is reality, like-like you aren't, you know...
Todd: Yeah, this is gonna be a rough one.
Todd (VO): Lauryn Hill, unplugged, uncut and unprepared to be performing that particular night.
Todd: Ready or not, this is Trainwreckords.
Trainwreckords intro, followed by album cover for MTV Unplugged 2.0
Todd: So, a couple of months ago, Lauryn Hill outraged a whole lot of fans by [shot of article: "Lauryn Hill Apologizes For Being Late to Concerts: 'We've Had a Few Challenges in These Early Shows'"] failing to appear at a scheduled performance.
Clip of Loni Love on The Real
Loni Love: She only performed a half-hour set because she showed up two hours late.
Todd (VO): And for me, this was really shocking and dismaying to hear 'cause I really thought that...
Todd: ...no one was dumb enough in this day and age to buy Lauryn Hill tickets.
Clip of Lauryn addressing the audience during one erratic show
Lauryn: Y'all always free to go back and ask for a refund...
Todd (VO): This is like the billionth time she's done this. She's been showing up late to concerts for 15 years now. You cannot be surprised. What did you think was gonna happen?
Todd: And then out of curiosity, I looked up some performances to see how they were and, uh... [beat] she's great!
Recent clip of Lauryn Hill performing "Ready or Not" at Austin City Limits
Lauryn: Some Goretex and sweats
I make treks like I'm homeless
Todd (VO): And then it clicked for me, I get it. I get why people still pay money for the off-chance that Ms. Lauryn Hill might deign to perform for them that night.
Todd: It's like buying a lotto ticket. You'll probably get nothing, but maybe you'll hit the jackpot.
Todd (VO): If you catch her on a good night, she kills. [clip of earlier performance at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards] And go back and find footage of her in her prime, and you'll see the same thing. She's just an amazing and commanding presence who controls the stage.
Todd: Which makes what happened that night in 2001 all the more confusing.
Clip of MTV Unplugged 2.0
Lauryn: [laughing] Oh no.
Todd (VO): Now, I'm inclined to tread lightly here when I talk about this album, 'cause even after all that's gone down...
Todd: ...the hip-hop community is still really fond of and protective of Lauryn Hill.
Todd (VO): Including this album. No one would say it was successful or had a great reception, [shot of AllMusic review...] but [...with both critic and user ratings circled] it did earn a decent share of fans, [live performance of...wait for it...] including her fellow rapper of unsteady mental health, Kanye West, who built one of his first hits out of a sample from this album.
Clips of Lauryn Hill - "Mystery of Iniquity"...
Lauryn: When it all
All falls down
...and Kanye West ft. Syleena Johnson - "All Falls Down"
Syleena: I'm tellin' you all
Kanye: C'mon, c'mon, and when it all falls down
Todd: And its fans haven't faded with time either. [shots of Complex article: "Why You Should Give Lauryn Hill's 'Unplugged' Album Another Chance"...] To this day, you'll see people stand up for it [and..."Lauryn Hill's 'MTV Unplugged 2.0' Album Is Still A Gem"] and argue for its merits. And, you know, it is a...
Todd (VO): ...singular, unique album, and people genuinely like it for its rawness and its honesty. And...
Todd: ...God bless them for it, but I don't see who could even dispute that this is one of the worst albums ever made.
Todd (VO): To me, this is torture; I think it's completely unlistenable. And part of that isn't even Lauryn or her music, it's just my personal taste.
Todd: I don't like MTV Unplugged [shrugs].
Clip of Unplugged performance of Eric Clapton - "Layla"
Todd (VO): It was this big deal in the '90s for some reason, and big stars would roll through, and it had a bunch of high points that everyone remembers, but for the...
Todd: ...most part, these concerts kinda suck.
Montage clips of Unplugged performances of Mariah Carey - "I'll Be There"; Nirvana - "Dumb"; Rod Stewart - "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" to name a few
Todd (VO): Like, even the good ones, I...find that I don't wanna listen to that sound for a whole album. Like, they think playing these songs in a small room without amps will make the music more intimate and meaningful and...every time I'm just thinking, "Wow, you sure ruined your best songs."
Todd: It's just a gimmick people took too seriously. And I think the world kinda came around to my side of it 'cause...
Clip of Unplugged 2.0 performance of Staind - "It's Been Awhile"
Todd (VO): ...MTV tried to keep it going in the 2000s with Unplugged 2.0, but it mostly died an unwarranted death. They still do it, but no one cares anymore.
Todd: I think we all gave up on it around the time we heard...
Clip of Unplugged 2.0 performance of "Make Me Bad/In Between Days" by...
Todd (VO): ...Korn try to play without pickups or distortion [brief snippet of horrific sounding guitar playing] What the fuck? Not an experiment to be repeated.
Todd: Of course ruining your songs is not an issue for Lauryn.
Clip of Lauryn Hill at Unplugged 2.0
Lauryn: These are brand new songs.
Todd (VO): Your fond memories of "Doo Wop (That Thing)" will remain untouched...
Todd: ...'cause she is performing all new, never-before-released material.
Lauryn: A lot of these songs, too. Some of them, you know...they ain't even really have titles yet.
Todd (VO): All new...
Todd: ...unfinished material.
Lauryn: If I stop, if I start, if I, you know, feel like singing, "Baby, baby, baby" for...eighteen bars or whatever, you know, I just...I do that.
Todd (VO): All new, unfinished...
Todd: ...ad-libbed material.
Lauryn: Alright, so you guys are cool? Okay, I'm talking, people in my head, too [audience laughs].
Todd (VO): Yeah, it's gonna be real shaky. And we're gonna start things off on a really bitter note.
Clip of "Mr. Intentional"
Lauryn: Please don't patronize me, Mr. Intentional
"Mr. Intentional" is about some unnamed, condescending asshole... [text appears: (it's definitely Wyclef Jean)] who keeps trying to tell her what to do, and keeps bringing her down with his supposed good intentions.
Todd: Which is not what intentional means, but, you know, poetic license.
Lauryn: Open up yours eyes, Mr. Intentional
Todd (VO): It's an odd way to start the performance because it's so...sour and angry, and...probably shocking to fans who were still expecting happy and buoyant Lauryn from 1998. Yeah, personally I would have saved this for later in the program, but to me that's not the problem.
Todd: The problem is it's seven minutes.
Lauryn: Held emotionally hostage, by what everybody does
Todd (VO): Seven minutes is a long time to listen to one note with a guitar.
Todd: Yeah, it's Unplugged, but most Unplugged concerts still have a band. [shot of article: "The Legal Tangle of 'Miseducation'"] The problem was she was dealing with a lawsuit from her band over songwriting credits, so maybe she wanted to prove she could do it without help. But...
Todd (VO): ...she's actually pretty new to this instrument, and the feel is very...
Todd: ...coffee shop open mic night.
Lauryn: Take up your bed and walk
Todd (VO): I honestly don't know if she could play "Wonderwall." And am I wrong...
Todd: ...or does her voice sound a little...strained?
Lauryn: Stay away from me, Mr. Intentional
"Mr. Intentional" ends as the crowd applauds
Todd: [slow claps] O-Okay, shaky start, but we're still going.
Todd (VO): Okay, let's look at the next one, "Adam Lives in Theory."
Lauryn: And when I refer to Adam, I-I'm really speaking about all of humanity, you know.
Yeah, I know what the name [image of The Creation of...] Adam symbolizes, Lauryn.
Todd: Okay, "Adam Lives in Theory" is about...
Lauryn: Adam lives in theory
Trying to turn stone into bread
Todd (VO): Oh God, more four-chord strumming.
Todd: But I guess the idea is that we focus more on the lyrics. Okay, fine. Here are the lyrics to "Adam Lives in Theory."
Audio for "Adam Lives in Theory" plays over scrolling down shot of lyrics
Lauryn: Leaving his descendants...
Scrolling down of the lyrics speeds up as Todd fast forwards the song
Lauryn: ...to his devices
Todd: Oh, Jesus.
Clip of "Adam Lives in Theory"
Todd (VO): No, I'm not going through all seven and a half minutes of that. Look, all you need to know, you get from the title. It's some heavy-handed allegory about...
Todd: ...Adam and Eve succumbing to the ills of the world that weigh down all of humanity.
Lauryn: Eve was so naive, blinded by the pride and greed
Wanting to be intellectual
Drifting from the way she got turned down one day
And now she thinks that she's bisexual
Todd: [beat] What's wrong with that, Lauryn?
Todd (VO): Okay, maybe that's not what it sounded like. It's not like I'm asking her what she meant by that.
Todd: It's kinda easy to assume the worst though.
Video for "Doo Wop (That Thing)"
Todd (VO): You go back and listen to that first album, it's...actually kinda...
Todd: ...preachy and conservative.
Lauryn: That was the sin that did Jezebel in
Todd (VO): You can totally imagine Lauryn telling teenage boys to pull up their pants and find Jesus. It just didn't come off that way, 'cause...
Todd: ...the music was so buoyant and uplifting, but...
Video for MTV Unplugged 2.0
Todd (VO): ...this album makes Miseducation seem a little worse.
Clip of "Adam Lives in Theory"
Lauryn: Now after the sensation, and the empty fornication
She can't recreate Miseducation's vibe on a single guitar, so Lauryn the artist as a whole just...
Todd: ...comes off as really tedious.
"Adam Lives in Theory" ends
Todd slow claps again
Todd (VO): Another religious song after this one, "Oh Jerusalem."
Todd: Like, she even acknowledges that it's going to be, quote, "cryptic."
Lauryn: I know some of it sounds...a-almost cryptic.
Todd: And she ain't kiddin'.
Lauryn: Abide in me and I in you, as the branch cannot bear
Fruit of itself except in the vine
Failing to connect cause I'm morally defect
...this goes on for nine minutes
By reason of the God inside my head
Todd: Yeah, I can't say I'm feeling moved to praise holy Mount Zion over here.
Video for "Everything is Everything"
Todd (VO): You know, I've said that she can't bring the Miseducation vibe on one guitar, but...maybe she can't recreate it for a more obvious reason, which is...she sounded happy on that album.
Todd: And Unplugged Lauryn...is not happy.
Clip of "Oh Jerusalem" on MTV Unplugged 2.0
Todd (VO): Like not at all. She's clearly going through something here. And she seems to regard her entire career as complete bullshit.
Todd: [sarcastically] Because it's not reality.
Lauryn: I had created this public persona, this public illusion.
Todd: And that reality thing comes back a lot.
Lauryn: Fantasy is what people want, but reality is what they need. And I've just retired...from the fantasy part.
Todd (VO): Like, "a lot" a lot. In fact she just...
Todd: ...talks a lot in general.
Lauryn: I used to go on tour, you know. And I'd be a prisoner. I used to be a prisoner on tour 'cause I...
Todd (VO): This album is a mind-melting hour and forty-five minutes...
Todd: ...and thirty of them are just her rambling!
Lauryn: It's like we all think that the gospel is join a church building, and-and that's deception, you know? The real gospel is...
Todd (VO): It's agonizing.
Todd: And especially so for me, because I've already heard most of this word for word from [image of...] a guy holding a sign on the subway. I should mention that this sat unaired for ten months before...
Todd (VO): ...being released in 2002, 'cause 9/11 happened a short time after they recorded this, and they wanted to be careful.
Todd: 'Cause there's one explicitly political song on here.
Clip of "I Find It Hard to Say (Rebel)"
Lauryn: And what I gotta say, is rebel
Is rebel – rebel, rebel, rebel, rebel...
Todd (VO): She says she worried about releasing it because she didn't want to...
Todd: ...start riots and violence.
Lauryn: And what I gotta say, is rebel
Todd (VO): Yeah, don't worry, Lauryn. This is not going to inspire anyone to start throwing bricks. It's going to inspire people to get their latte somewhere else. 'Cause...
Todd: ...I mean, let's just say it: She sounds like garbage.
Lauryn: [voice cracking] Ohhh, rebel
Todd (VO): Apparently, she blew her voice out in a rehearsal the night before. And instead of rescheduling, which I'm sure MTV would have understood 'cause these things happen...
Todd: ...she just decided the show must go on.
Lauryn: Oh, are you satisfied?
Todd (VO): Yes, the woman who is infamous for constantly failing to appear onstage when she doesn't feel up to it...
Todd: ...on a night where she sounded like Joan Rivers with the flu...
Todd (VO): ...for a performance that was going to be aired on national TV, and where her only accompaniment was an instrument she only had basic skills on, so the show was gonna live and die on the strength of her voice...
Todd: ...this was the date she decided she was gonna make! [throws hands up, clearly mind-blown]
Clip of "I Just Want You Around"
Todd (VO): While the first few songs were all pretty bad...amateurish even...
Todd: ...there are a couple songs on here I think are close to done, and...
Todd (VO): ...would be good on a real concert or a real album. But we are definitely hearing the worst possible version of them!
Lauryn: I just want you around
And to be clear, she knows what she sounds like. And she has a justification for doing this.
Todd: ...Wait for it.
Lauryn: I know I sound raspy, but...that's, hey. You know, reality is, sometimes I stay up late and this is what I sound like when I wake up the next day.
Todd: It's, [air quote] "reality."
Lauryn: You know, I just sound...like a singer with a lot of stuff in her throat.
Todd: I'm not sucking, I'm being...real.
Todd (VO): That's her excuse for this self-indulgent, ramshackle performance.
Todd: The songs aren't finished.
Lauryn: [as she's strumming her guitar] Let's see what key I wanna do this in.
Todd: She flubs them several times.
Clip of "I Get Out"
Lauryn: I could care less if you're upset
Lauryn slips up one of her chords
See it don't change the truth
Todd (VO): Even the titles aren't locked down; MTV gives different names for them than the CD does.
Lauryn: I remember
This is the equivalent of when a [clip of Chris Rock doing...] big comedian does an unannounced set in a small club to work out new jokes, [still shot of Chris Rock Tamborine on Netflix] only it's a giant Netflix special at the same time!
Todd: And I gotta be honest, her justification sounds a lot like the pretensions of the Unplugged series itself, taken to its dumbest conclusion.
Clip of "I Remember"
Todd (VO): Performing in a small, intimate room is more real. Performing on acoustic instruments is real.
Lauryn: These traditions are a lie...
Performing when your voice is gone is real. Performing unfinished songs you can't perform right is real. Showing up drunk and puking onstage is real.
Todd: No! Unplugged is just a style to be used well or used badly, just like any other style.
Todd (VO): It's not more authentic than a forty-piece band, and a hoarse, raspy vocal isn't more real than a polished one. It's still artificial, it's still a presentation.
Todd: This is so basic, I shouldn't have to say it. It's still performance!
Lauryn: I used to be a performer, and I-I don't consider myself a performer so much anymore.
Todd: Then what the hell am I watchin', lady?!
Todd (VO): And the outfit. We gotta talk about the outfit. I mean, look at what she's wearing.
Todd: Just look at it!
Clip of "So Much Things To Say"
Lauryn: Keep talking
'Cause none of them walking
Todd: [beat] Yeah, I-I have nothing to say about the outfit [shrugs].
Todd (VO): Looks like a normal outfit to me. I don't think we need to talk about it one bit. It's just that...
Todd: ...Lauryn thinks we do.
Todd (VO): It's the first thing she talks about in fact.
Lauryn: I used to get dressed for y'all. Now I don't do that no more, I'm sorry, it's... [audience laughs along with her] it's a new day!
What are you apologizing for? It's an Unplugged session!
Todd: No one's expecting you to come out looking like Lady Gaga!
Todd (VO): But she goes on and on about how she picked this outfit.
Lauryn: So I pull out all these clothes, and I say, "Okay, Ro..."
But she clearly spent a lot of time trying to look just the right level of casual.
Todd: Because it is...say it with me now...
Lauryn: It's not, it's not even that. You know, it's, but this is reality. This is, you know...
Lauryn: People need to see the reality, they need to see...
Todd (VO): She's being...real.
Lauryn: Reality is good, 'cause that means everybody can...
Lauryn: And I'm saying, just give them reality from the door. Because, see...
Todd (VO): Realer than Real Deal Holyfield.
Todd: Jennifer Lopez wasn't this real!
Lauryn: Like I said, it's-it's reality, so...but y'all, I think y'all got that by now.
Todd: [laughs sarcastically along with the audience] Yup!
Todd (VO): Like, I don't wanna act like the be all, end all, but she's not being raw like this to enhance her performance. She's just being lazy! These songs aren't reality either; it's all impenetrable, unrelatable generalities.
Todd: Comes off like a parody of conscious hip-hop with all the...
Todd (VO): ...Bob Marley-isms and spirituality, ragged and ugly and tired. People praise this album for being honest.
Todd: I don't think it's honest at all.
Todd (VO): In fact, I would call it delusional!
Lauryn: What I realize I-I've become is one of those mad scientists who-who does the test on themselves first, you see? To make sure that they work, and that's when you know, "Okay, look...I got something that works, you know..."
She presents it like she's come out the other side with all this wisdom. Like, she has the right to lecture, but she's...really obviously still struggling and confused.
Todd: If this were really honest, she'd be using words like, "anxiety," or "depression..."
Todd (VO): ...but instead, she's got a bunch of confusing sermons that boil down to...
Todd: [air quote] "Be real," whatever that means.
Clip of "I Gotta Find Peace of Mind"
Lauryn: I gotta find peace of mind
See, this what that voice in your head says when you try to get peace of mind.
Todd (VO): There is one song on here that does come off as honest, which is "I Gotta Find Peace of Mind."
Todd: ...'Cause, you know, she does gotta find peace of mind. [shrugs] That's true enough.
Todd (VO): But it's actually not the lyrics that are emotionally honest; those are actually kinda muddled. It's more what happens towards the end. Where...
Todd: ...she straight has an emotional breakdown during it.
Lauryn: [through tears] You're my peace of mind
Todd (VO): Oh, boy. Here we go.
Todd: Well, you know, she kept talking about reality.
Todd (VO): That's certainly something that happens in reality. Someone you care about has just been dealing with too much, starts breaking down in front of you. And in those situations...
Todd: ...I always do my best to be sympathetic, and compassionately help them [images of...] out of my apartment and into a cab so they can go find someone who can deal with that, 'cause I-I-I can't. I cannot.
Lauryn: Merciful, merciful
Todd (VO): So Lauryn breaking down like this...this doesn't capture some deep truth to me. It's just really uncomfortable. Her crying, plus all the disjointed rambling, plus everything we know about her in hindsight...
Todd: ...she's clearly not doing well! And I feel like I shouldn't be seeing this!
Todd (VO): In fact, I honestly kinda feel bad that I'm doing this video at all. Like, [giggles] watch some YouTube dick [shot of fake YouTube video: "Todd DESTROYS Lauryn Hill for having emotional issues!"] make fun of a woman's emotional problems for twenty minutes. [chuckles sarcastically]
Todd: That said, I-I do think this is still fair game, 'cause so many people still insist that the emperor still has clothes on. Even though she's up...
Todd (VO): ...there, almost oozing contempt for art in general, and certainly for the listener.
Lauryn: [as the crowd applauds] Y'all getting paid to clap like this?
FUCK YOU FOR CLAPPING!
Todd: She's just brow-beating and bullying the entire night.
Lauryn: Am I doing alright? [audience applauds again] I'm screaming at y'all, I'm just asking you a question, and y'all are giving me a clap. Like, yes it's fine!
Todd (VO): [laughs] Fuck you again for clapping!
Todd: That's how Disc 2 in the set starts off.
Todd (VO): And this interlude goes on for a butt-numbing [shot of Spotify playlist of MTV Unplugged 2.0 with timestamp for "Interlude 5 - Live" circled...] twelve, [dramatic zoom in] straight minutes.
Todd: Welcome to Lauryn Hill Ted Talks. Get comfy.
Lauryn: The description of the Bible says we-we...uh, we...what does it say? Um...
Todd: Why not just cut this?
Lauryn: We appreciate...the opportunity to be alive, you know. And I'm just...
Text appears next to audience member: ...where are the exits?
...I'm glad that I-I understand it was because I was measuring myself, or-or trying to compare myself to a standard that wasn't reality.
Cuts to another audience member with pained expression and accompanying text: ...please god invent the smartphone soon
It wasn't the standard at all.
Todd (VO): Okay, jeez. Finally!
Lauryn: [after strumming a few chords] One time, i-it came to me.
Todd groans and facepalms in agony
Lauryn: Y'all never knew me! I want to introduce you to me, I'm just getting to know me!
Todd: Ma'am, this is an Arby's.
Clip of "So Much Things To Say"
Lauryn: They've got so much things to say
Todd (VO): We end with a Bob Marley song. [brief clip of "The Conquering Lion"] And a song that's trying to be a Bob Marley song.
Todd: And by that point, her voice is...completely gone.
Clip of "I Remember"
Lauryn: [voice cracking heavily] I... saw [laughs]
Todd (VO): I know this album has defenders, but it's so long, so uncomfortable, so one-note, so monotonous, so embarrassing.
Todd: Maybe one raspy song could be acceptable, but an hour forty-five?! No.
Todd (VO): Is anything on it salvageable? I don't know, maybe. Like, you can hear things that might sound good when she releases those finished versions on that next album.
Todd: Oh, wait! [brief clip of "All Falls Down"] Honestly, I suspect Kanye found the only decent ten seconds in the whole concert. MTV should've just buried this.
Clip of MTV Unplugged 2.0
Todd (VO): In the aftermath, record executives admitted that they wanted to jump out a window listening to it. And that a lesser artist wouldn't have ever gotten this released.
Todd: But, why not cut out all the rambling at least?!
Todd (VO): I think they left it in 'cause they had to break up the monotony of her plonking on her six-string, but they could still cut it down a little!
Todd: I think they released it uncut because the only way it's interesting, is if it was just the...
Todd (VO): ...full unvarnished portrait of Lauryn being a mess.
Todd: And that feels really gross to me.
Todd (VO): Like, I realize I'm not taking down a sacred cow here, but I don't feel like it's unnecessary either.
Lauryn: We'll be starting that one again
Todd: If this were a CD from someone you've never heard of, you'd demand your money back!
Todd (VO): These are unfinished, unreleasable songs with no hooks that all sound the goddamn same, sung badly, played badly, intercut with interminable, disjointed lecturing...
Todd: ...and the only reason people defend it is because she's fuckin' losing her shit during it!
Todd (VO): This isn't us witnessing a raw, ingenious performance. It's just rubbernecking. All I see is a record company trying to squeeze more money out of a presumed cash cow that suddenly went dry.
Todd: And it's especially sad 'cause we know it never gets any better for her. She doesn't find peace, she doesn't cut a new album.
Todd (VO): And watching this, I just felt like an enabler. And being forced to listen to this, I also felt insulted by her personally.
Todd: Killing us softly with her songs indeed.
Clip of "War In the Mind (Freedom Time)"
Lauryn: Freedom, freedom time now
Freedom time now
Freedom time, be free
See, i-if you give yourself up...listen nobody can...
Todd (VO): Oh my God, she's still going.
Todd: [shakes head] No, no, we're done. [makes motion to cut] The end.
Gets up and leaves
Ending music: Todd plays "All Falls Down" on piano
"MTV Unplugged No 2.0" is owned by Columbia Records
This video is owned by me
THANK YOU TO THE LOYAL PATRONS!