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Lauryn Hill issues a hip-hop harangue for the ages

Lauryn Hill owes back taxes.

Mel Evans/AP

Lauryn Hill; streaming here.

Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix), the new single from Lauryn Hill, begins with a drum roll, and an announcement, and it's a doozy.

Against an unruffled backbeat and a twinkling synth cascade, the former Fugee issues a hip-hop harangue for the ages – an epic diatribe in three verses, with rapid-fire rant-rhymes about "living in a joke time, metaphorical coke time" and "contagious social gluttony, stages of mass malignancy."

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Whoever asked Hill, "Yo, what up," got more than the small talk. Actually, it was the legend's new record label (Sony) that asked for the track.

Hill, in debt to the Internal Revenue Service, issued the "neurotic godless society" rap to iTunes and YouTube with a Tumblr missive that began bitterly, "Here is a link to a piece that I was 'required' to release immediately, by virtue of the impending legal deadline."

Back taxes? As legitimate a muse as any, James Brown would agree.

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Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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