This week we dig into classic album, Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Lauryn Hill is not in class when the roll is called in ‘Intro’, the track that sets the scene for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The songs that follow form a document of her ‘education’ through living and learning the lessons of life firsthand.
In an era when hip hop was dominated by men who talked up violence and misogyny, Lauryn sang and rapped about the highs and lows of her relationships, her unborn son and her spirituality. This record demonstrated a smart and powerful new player on the scene and paved the way forward for a new brand of hip hop, one that fearlessly explored more personal and conscious themes.
Blending soul, R&B, reggae and hip hop, this was a groundbreaking album which would go on to influence a generation of new artists.
If this album wasn’t on your radar in 1998 then here’s a cheat sheet on its impact back in the day and why it still matters so much 18 years on.
Her withdrawal from the public eye in the time not long after this album’s breakthrough, due in part to the lawsuit for not properly crediting her collaborators and her tax evasion conviction, has added to the sense of mystery that surrounds her.
In recent years her career has lit up again with festival and TV performances, executive producing and singing on Nina Revisited…A Tribute To Nina Simone and there has been talk of a comeback album too. But she’s also been plagued by erratic live appearances, so it remains to be seen if the follow up album emerges any time soon.
For its part, Miseducation… played a huge role in broadening the way hip hop was perceived by mainstream audiences. Its impact is still being felt today through the number of artists who continue to reference Ms Hill.
One thing is for sure, it remains a hefty and daunting prospect to follow up a record as brilliant as this.