She is known for her soothing voice, her thought provoking lyrics and and always telling it like it is.
She is none other than Miss Lauryn Hill.
Lauryn Hill (45) recently made history when her album was certified diamond. She became the first female rapper to sell 10 million album copies and its all thanks to an album she released 22 years ago at 23 years old.
I was barely a year old when she released the album in 1998 so how could an album released 22 years ago have influenced me so greatly and become one of the greatest albums I have ever listened to?
I learnt of Lauryn Hill and her music when I was 13. My older brother was deeply into hip-hop and I yearned to listen to someone who did not rap about money, sex, parties and power. And along came Lauryn and I was hooked. I started listening to the songs she released with The Fugees and the projects she released as a solo artist. I liked her honesty, her melodic voice and her truth and her independence.
The album has sounds of hip-hop infused with reggae and soft harmonies yet the lyrics are hard hitting and raw. She is a woman that rapped about issues faced by people, she educated, protested, and often gave us food for thought. Her contribution to hip-hop will always be remembered she paved the way for female rappers of note such as Rapsody and Noname.
In her album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill she addresses many topics from societal ills, to the state of hip-hop, love and becoming her own woman. She speaks about becoming a single mother and learning to let go of a toxic relationship. In the album she expresses herself with no filter, speaking about religion and life in the ghetto. Each each song has it's own lesson and makes you question your perspective on issues and if you are a woman it leaves you feeling empowered.
The first song on the album Lost One sets the tone of the album as Miss Lauryn goes full battle mode where she addresses what many believe to be her former band-mate, Wycleff where she addresses The Fugees split and her pursuit of a solo career.
She also dedicated a song on the album to her first-born son, Zion. She was pregnant with him when she recorded the album. She wrote of how people tried to advise her to get an abortion as her career was taking off but Lauryn decided to have her baby.
“I knew his life deserved a chance but everybody told me to be smart, look at your career they said. Lauryn, baby use your head. But instead I chose to use my heart.”
Doo-Woop is an all time favourite that I can't seem to let go of even as a young woman, Lauryn in the song warns men and women about the cynical interests that people have when trying to get access to something while in the disguise of being in love.
The chorus of the song was my anthem throughout my teenage years.
I can tell you what I have learnt from each song but that would make this longer than it should. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is one of those classic albums that resonate with every generation. It is a timeless piece of artwork, the issues and topics she addresses are still relevant today, her music, her tone, her range and versatility as an artist is what sets her apart of other female rappers of her time and even in today’s time.
Lauryn Hill’s contribution to my personal independence as a 23-year-old woman is something I will cherish, her music helped me shape my own perception about the world, my relationship with God, love and the black community. Her miseducation became my light and helped me mould a different reality.