A Guide to "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill": Her first, only, and perfect album
Some may not know who Lauryn Hill is. However, you might've heard at least one of her most famous songs, like her extremely popular cover of "Killing Me Softly". Even if you're unfamiliar with her, it is still undeniable that she changed the music industry to a great extent when she published her solo album "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill''. Surprisingly, this album is Lauryn's first and only album as a solo artist, here's why.
Lauryn Hill is an actress, singer, rapper, producer, and songwriter from the 1990s. She was first presented to the public as a part of the rap group "Fugees", which was first formed while she was in highschool by herself and Pras Michél. The group was later completed with the addition of rapper Wyclef Jean. Nowadays, she is known as one of the greatest rappers of all time, an artist who broke barriers for female rappers, and one of the people who popularised the genres of hip hop and neo-soul.
With the Fugees, they weren't too popular until 1996, when they released their third album "The Complete Score" or "The Score (Expanded Edition)". The most famous songs from this album are "Killing Me Softly", "Fu-Gee-La" and "Ready or Not", which pushed them into global superstardom. But that was only until the public wanted Lauryn to go solo. At first, she was reluctant about it and wanted the other members of the group to help her write and produce. However, she decided to do it all on her own after Wyclef said he was going to be the executive producer of the entire album to prove that she did not need them to be great.
So in 1998, Lauryn Hill released her first solo album called "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill'' and it would be an understatement to say that this album was an extremely successful masterpiece. This album stopped the world. In its first week, the album sold almost 425,000 copies. At only 23 years old, Lauryn had taken the world by storm. She was on every radio station and magazine cover. Everyone was obsessed with her. She became a phenomenon. Even though the entire album was successful, the best-known songs are "Doo Wop (That Thing)", "Ex-Factor", "Everything is Everything" and "Lost Ones".
Why was it great?
Now onto the question most of us are asking: "what was so special about this album?". Firstly, its musicality, which you can hear from the first song on the album. Although being mainly a hip-hop and neo-soul album, it also has reggae, rhythm and blues, and jazz influences. These can be heard in songs like "Doo Wop (That Thing)" and "Forgive Them Father", which samples "Concrete Jungle" by Bob Marley and The Wailers. Another point which also is what makes "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" so great is how it revolutionised hip hop: it broadened the parameters of the genre by popularising melodic rap, promoted lyrical vulnerability, prepared the public for the female rappers that were to come and brought the genre to the mainstream. Lauryn even made Grammy history with this album as she became the first rap artist, third black woman to win the award for Album of the Year, and the first woman to win five or more Grammys in a single night (the other four of them being Best New Artist, Best R&B Album, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and Best R&B Song). She also won other awards such as an AMA Award, two Soul Train Music Awards, 3 NAACP Image Awards, and more.
This was Lauryn Hill's peak career-wise. She had achieved everything any artist dreams of achieving, but nothing lasts forever. After her first album as a solo artist, people were expecting more of her. However, nothing came after it.
There are two reasons why this was. The first one is that she was feeling overwhelmed by the amount of fame she got from only one body of work. There was a lot of pressure put on her by her fans and the public in general to make more projects, and maybe she just felt that she couldn't live up to those expectations. After all, being an artist that works in the music field is a very exposing job in which you're in the spotlight constantly and her being so overwhelmed by this probably also made her creativity disappear, eventually making her lose passion for her art as a whole. The second reason was that she didn't feel supported by her label to do a second album. This might seem like a pretty dull reason in a way, but it makes sense because, after all the success this album had, it is strange that the label wouldn't even suggest doing another project.
Even though this album was released twenty-four years ago, we see how it influenced many artists today like Adele, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Erykah Badu and Rihanna. The topics discussed in some of her songs are still relevant and there are many people who remain fans of her work and listen to it. In 2021, she became the first female rapper in music's history to have a diamond-certified album, meaning ten million units sold. It is basically undeniable that Lauryn Hill was one of the most influential artists of her generation and this is why "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" is indeed a perfect album.