Lauryn Hill’s album still influences 25 years later
THURS.| 10-26-23 | OPINION
Released on Aug. 25, 1998, artist Ms. Lauryn Hill’s first and only solo album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” changed hip-hop and R&B forever. Recently, the album has reached its 25th anniversary. This timeless masterpiece has won her five Grammy awards on its own. Although the album is older than any student here at Rose, the impact it has left on music as a whole remains generational.
Hill’s prior work on “The Score,” an album with her former rap group, the “Fugees” had already set high expectations for her as an artist. However, after the group disbanded in 1997, nobody was ready for her solo album to completely raise the bar and set a standard for new-generation rap artists. “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” is definitely in my top 20 list of the greatest albums of all time.
Not only is this album nothing but a pleasure to listen from start to finish, but it also doesn’t fail to explore every aspect of Lauryn Hill as a person. Throughout this album, Hill showcases her insane lyricism while also opening her heart and expressing vulnerability as a person.
The big theme of this album is “love,” and many forms of love are prevalent throughout the album. Songs like “Ex-Factor” and “When It Hurts So Bad” talk about her heartbreak in a bad relationship, while other songs such as “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” and “Tell Him” express her love for her significant other. Her outstanding duet with singer D’Angelo on “Nothing Even Matters” is another great example of a love song, and it remains one of my favorite songs on the album. In “To Zion,” Hill sings about her love for her child. She also sings about her love for her home in Orange County, New Jersey in “Every Ghetto, Every City”. Her beef with her ex-boyfriend Wyclef Jean, a fellow “Fugees” member, is also discussed on “Lost Ones.” I appreciate how the theme of love is further pushed with the use of skits at the end of multiple songs.
Hill’s pure and raw emotion on this record is unmatched. It’s rare to see an album that’s more than just “songs” or “music,” but instead are an invitation into the mind and heart of its creator. She opened the door for many other artists to go deeper than just music.
In the twenty-five years that have passed since this album was released, the influence it has left on the hip-hop community remains today. Without this album, many of the current big names in
hip-hop wouldn’t be around. Artists such as J. Cole, Nicki Minaj and upcoming New Jersey rapper Sol ChYld have taken a heavy amount of inspiration from Hill and her work. Other rappers like Drake, Cardi B and A$AP Rocky have also sampled her songs on their records.
Lauryn Hill will forever be admired for the work that she did on this album. Not only did she combine neo-soul with rap and R&B, but she also set a standard that rappers many generations after would continue to follow. Unfortunately, this album is her only studio album, but it’s amazing to see how an artist can set her path and achieve legendary status with only one project out.