Categorized | Arts & Entertainment

After 20 years, Lauryn Hill’s music is still impactful

Kamal Morgan

A&E Editor

This past summer, I wanted to explore more hip-hop music from the past, especially albums released in the golden age, the 1990s. One of the most critically acclaimed and revered albums during this period is Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”

I have always known about Hill’s importance to hip-hop culture because she was a rapper and singer who blended R&B, pop, hip-hop and reggae. I wanted to make sure to listen to this album to truly comprehend why so many people admire her and consider her one of the best artists ever.  

When Lauryn Hill came into the spotlight, she was an actor in the television soap opera “As the World Turns,” and in the 1993 film “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.” In 1993, she joined the genre blending group, the Fugees, with Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel who released two albums during their tenure. Hill and Wyclef’s romantic relationship became strained and eventually led to the band’s split in 1997. This led to each member exploring their own solo careers.

On August 25, 1998, Hill released “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” Which got its name from Carter G. Woodson’s book “The Miseducation of the Negro.” The album was critically acclaimed and debuted number one on the Billboard 200 while selling over eight million copies in the U.S. and 12 million worldwide. Her singles, “Lost Ones” and “Doo Wop (That Thing)” reached 27 and number one, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100, giving her early praise on her authentic blend of pop, soul and R&B. It received 10 Grammy nominations and won five of them, including Album of the Year and Best New Artist. She appeared on multiple magazine covers from Essence to People magazine and was named to Ebony magazine’s 100+ Most Influential Black Americans list.

Her album dove deep into her life as she was redefining and discovering herself as a mother and a black woman, and breaking down her relationship with Wyclef and the Fugees. “Lost Ones,” the second track of the album, deals with her break up with Wyclef. The song begins  with, “It’s funny how money changes a situation,” describing her rise in fame and estranged relationship with Wyclef who had problems with Hill’s new man Rohan Marley.

“To Zion” dealt with her first pregnancy and the pressure she was receiving to get an abortion to not hurt her music career.  “Doo Wop,” the most popular song of the album, warns men and women not to be exploited for sex by the other and rather to have self-respect.

Hill’s entire album is filled with timeless tracks on redemptive love, fear, forgiveness and making it okay to be scared when hope seems small. It is also a favorite album to be sampled, as Drake and Cardi B used her song “Ex-Factor” to create the chorus for Drake’s “Nice for What” and Cardi B’s “Be Careful.”

This album will forever stand as a classic and an important project that inspired many up and coming musicians.

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