A Nina Simone Playlist

“I’ll be Nina Simone and defecating on your microphone.” So rapped Ms. Lauryn Hill on Fugees’ “Ready Or Not.” As several of my friends could tell you, I tend to take things literally. I didn’t know much about Nina Simone at the time this Fugees single was released. All I knew is that she was a singer from the past who while on stage performing, apparently, would defecate on her microphone. I thought “Who wants to see that shit?” I bought Ms. Simone’s autobiography last year, in part to find out if she discusses this unusual show ritual, though I haven’t yet had the chance to read it. In preparing this post I looked up the “Ready or Not” lyrics on genius.com, where I learned that the lyric seemingly about Nina Simone’s defecation works in tandem with the line before it, which is “So while you imitating Al Capone.” What this means is that while other rappers are celebrating and emulating the life and crimes of a white gangster, Ms. Hill will aspire to follow in the footsteps of a great Black cultural artist. In other words, Nina Simone did not actually defecate while performing. Ms. Lauryn Hill did.

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