Let’s venture back to the year 1998. Hip-hop, rap and R&B were exploring new ways to become more creative and inventive. It was the 90s when we first saw artists blending hip-hop, rap, R&B, soul and reggae to come up with a more universal sound, and these blends produced arguably one of the greatest albums of our generation.
Lauryn Hill’s only solo studio album to date, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” changed the time period and singlehandedly helped define a generation of young, talented black musicians. By exploring her roots and utilizing her talents, Lauryn Hill successfully blended all three genres and was able to create what I consider the greatest album of the 90s.
Hill, a former member of the rap group The Fugees alongside fellow hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean, was on tour with the Fugees when she met Rohan Marley, son of Bob Marley. The two formed a close relationship and Hill later became pregnant. It was this pregnancy that helped inspire the album.
“When some women are pregnant, their hair and nails grow, but for me it was my mind and ability to create,” Hill said in an interview.
“Every time I got hurt, every time I was disappointed, every time I learned, I just wrote a song,” Hill added.
Delving in creativity, Hill wrote over 30 songs in her New Jersey studio apartment. A majority of the songs dealt with the hardships going on in her former group The Fugees, as well as other former relationships that ended negatively.
Hill began recording the album in late 1997 in Jamaica at Tuff Gong Studios, founded by reggae legend Bob Marley.
“The first day in the studio I ordered every instrument I ever fell in love with: harps, strings, timpani drums, organs, clarinets. It was my idea to record it so the human element stayed in. I didn’t want it to be too technically perfect,” Hill stated.
During writing and recording, Hill went back to her gospel roots. Many of her songs were inspired by the gospels of the Bible, and she used these influences to write beautiful and thought-provoking lyrics.
The album was very well received, garnering 4 out of 5 stars from Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone reviewed the album six years after its debut and upped the score to a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
At the 41st Annual Grammy Awards, Hill was nominated for 10 awards for her debut solo album, making her the first female to be nominated for that many awards in a single year. She won five of those awards, including Best New Artist, Best R&B Song, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Album and Album of the Year.
In 2012, the album ranked at number 43 on Rolling Stone’s list of Women Who Rock: The 50 Greatest Albums of All Time. It was also ranked on Rolling Stone’s Best Albums of the 90s as number five.
Lauryn Hill created one of the greatest albums to ever grace our generation. With songs like “Ex-Factor,” “Lost Ones” and “Doo Wop (That Thing),” this album etched its place in history as one of the greatest pieces of work to grace our earbuds and iTunes libraries.
The album is timeless and is sure to entertain for years to come.If you haven’t already downloaded Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, I suggest you to do so in order to enjoy the best 77 minutes of your life.