Set aside for a moment that no one went to prison behind the bank losses of 2008, while Wesley Snipes (who just got out) and Lauryn Hill (who’s headed in) make headlines with their tax-related prison sentences.
I believe the three-month prison sentence handed down to L Boogie was, in part, due to her pissing off presiding judge Madeline Cox Arleo during her trial by having the means, but not the wherewithal, to make restitution. Still, there is precedent that Lauryn didn’t have to go to jail behind ~$1m in tax debt.
That said, Lauryn is in a precarious position. She has cut a deal with Sony for five songs, which suggests she owes somebody a Big Assed Favor™ to help get that $900k bill paid. And I get that there’s a label component to it, but Sony has effectively given a $1m advance for five songs to an artist that has not released an album since 1998. (No, Unplugged does not count.)
This means that the songs she’s contracted to release — the first one apparently wasn’t finished to LB’s liking — can’t be garbage, because Lauryn’s got to post real numbers due to the aforementioned BAF.
And because she’ll be locked up, Lauryn can’t start promoting (which she doesn’t want to do in the first place) until mid-fall at the earliest. So in order to compensate and keep the release momentum, you’ll have J. Cole or somebody that’s brought in to lay vocal for the “collaboration” song that never existed in the first place; which is just going to obscure Lauryn’s intended vision.
Contrast this with when Slick Rick was sentenced to prison. Russell Simmons put him in the studio to cut enough material for two decent (but unworthy) follow-ups to The Great Adventures of Slick Rick in order to generate some income for Ricky while he was locked up. Will Lauryn get that level of look-out? We can debate the sentence lengths and all, but in both cases careers are at stake.
Unless, of course, Lauryn baffles us all and pulls a Second Act.