Opinion: Ms. Lauryn Hill Tattoo


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This image is what Lauryn Hill lover tend to get tattooed.

Ashton Baez, known as @Ashton_got_baez on TikTok, has received backlash for getting a tattoo of Ms. Lauryn Hill, one of the most notable Black neo-soul artists of the 1990s.

This situation sparked debate: can people who are not Black get that specific tattoo of Lauryn Hill? There is really no easy answer, but there are certain artists who are special to certain races. 

What makes an artist’s music so powerful is speaking about their own struggles. Ariana Grande sang about her ex-boyfriend’s, Mac Miller, death due to drug overdose and healing from her trauma. Cardi B rapped about her husband cheating. Lauryn Hill sang and rapped about the economical and educational gaps in the Black community and living in institutionalized and systematic racism. 

These are issues Black people specifically relate to. 

From slavery to the civil rights movement to present-day, music remains an important part of African-American culture. Music is one of the ways Black people find or found peace necessary to endure terrible situations, which is what prompted the negative reaction to Baez’s tattoo.

What is disrespectful about the situation is that it seems Baez not only doesn’t understand Lauryn Hill’s music but doesn’t care about her music’s immense effect on young Black people. As someone who is not Black, Baez is appropriating a culture he is not a part of.

When a person gets a tattoo of an artist’s face, there is usually a song or album that spoke to them, which is why the individual wants to keep a piece of the art at all times. 

Whichsong led Baez to want that tattoo? “Doo-Wop (That Thing)”? “Killing Me Softly With His Song”?

In a TikTok that showcased his tattoo, he used the song “I Get Out” by Hill, and he lip-synced to the part of the song that said “you just want to use me, you say love then abuse me.” This led many to the assumption that Baez made the TikTok about an ex. This was the video that brought attention to his tattoo. 

“I Get Out” is a song about the harmful “box and psychological locks” put on Black people and advising other Black people to open their eyes to a system that continues to hurt them.

If Baez truly loved and understood Hill’s music as he claims, he would know and understand that singing that song in reference to a past relationship wouldn’t be taken lightly. 

The situation comes as no shock to me. 

Black culture is constantly being appropriated because it has no true cultural roots. African Americans made their own music, hairstyles and clothing trends and even ways of talking. Black culture was looked at as cool in American society, and it became normalized for this to be taken from them. 

Almost every non-Black person in the spotlight, and some out of the spotlight, has used African American Vernacular English, got locs or hair extensions, started tanning or has listened to a Black-based genre of music without the proper understanding of the lyrics.

No one can control what someone else does, but it’s important that people know why he is being canceled. Anyone can listen to any type of music, but there should always be a sense of respect when listening to music with a deeper message. 

Lauryn Hill is an important artist to Black people, and having a non-Black person disrespect her music by getting a tattoo of her with no proper understanding is a punch in the face to the Black community.