- 26 Jun 19
It’s no surprise that Ms. Lauryn Hill’s 20th anniversary victory lap for her watershed post-Fugees album, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, has spilled over into a celebration of its 21st. By all accounts the original tour was a resounding success – her December stop at the 3Arena was one of the highlights of 2018 – and has acted as a kind of rebirth for the mercurial 44-year-old. The real surprise is that the tour happened at all.
Following the world-wide success of The Miseducation Of…, an album that saw her nominated for – and win – more Grammy awards in one year than any other female artist, the then 23-year-old largely disappeared from the public eye. In fact, in the years since its release, it’s an unfortunate truth that her reputation for erratic behaviour and her complex legal entanglements have often grabbed more headlines than the small amount of new material she has released. All of which is an entirely unfair representation of a woman who actually chose to eschew the celebrity lifestyle in order to concentrate on being a mother, and it also does a disservice to the legacy of one of R&B and hip-hop’s most original voices.
The Miseducation Of… is an album of dizzying lyrical dexterity and profound soul. Written while Hill was pregnant with her first child, the record confronts head-on the expectations placed on the singer by industry forces, who thought her becoming a mother could ruin her (read: their) prospects. “Look at your career,” she sings on ‘To Zion’, “they said/ ’Lauryn baby use your head’ / But instead I chose to use my heart.”
The album, which went eight times platinum, was hailed by Mary J. Blige as “one of the most incredible albums ever made.” And, speaking on its 15th anniversary, Nas said of Hill’s opus, “It represents a serious moment in Black music, when young artists were taking charge and breaking through doors. It cleared the way for rap music to be what it is today.” Indeed, in 2015, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for inclusion in the National Recording Registry.