OPINION: The enigmatic artist released one of the greatest albums in hip-hop history with ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.’ But her artistic zenith did not last long, and her downfall has been long and public.
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I miss Lauryn Hill. I know she’s still around, occasionally showing up super late for her own shows, but once upon a time, she was amazing. She was—she is—the greatest female MC of all time. And she was more than a rapper-singer-songwriter-actress. She was a spiritual figure who people admired.
One of the times I interviewed her, she was talking about going to Ethiopia for New Year’s Day to perform and commune with the people. She talked about wanting to give to them and to receive wisdom and energy from them. She was then dating Rohan Marley, son of Bob, which made all of this more powerful because Lauryn, more than anyone, seemed like she could possibly be the second coming of Bob Marley, a beloved global recording artist who’s a spiritual leader and a natural mystic. We could’ve had that. We almost had that. Instead…
Back in the ’90s, she was everything. On The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, her 1998 solo debut, she gave us a perfect album that melded hip-hop and soul as it referenced love, childhood, nostalgia and faith. It established her as the high priestess of hip-hop. I would normally argue that an artist whose career is largely based on a single album has not done enough to be the best, but Miseducation is one of the greatest albums in hip-hop history and one of the greatest albums in modern soul music history.
It’s a timeless album that gives us so many hits—“Lost Ones,” in which she speaks back to Wyclef, her former partner in music and love, and “Doo Wop (That Thing),” and “Nothing Even Matters,” a gorgeous love song with D’Angelo, and “Everything Is Everything,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” and “Tell Him.” It’s a gorgeous album that makes you feel warm and makes you long to feel the profound sort of love she’s talking about.
When your one album is an album this good, then yes, one album can vault your career above careers filled with good albums that don’t come close to the depth and power of the sublime Miseducation, which sold today!