The album that changed music forever – Technique
Our opinion: 5/5 stars
“Album of the Year is ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,'” Gordon Thomas said at the 41st Grammy Awards. Lauryn Hill took the stage to claim her fifth Grammy of the night. At the time, some viewers had no idea of the importance and existence of the album, as it was the first rap/r&b album ever released. earn such an honor. However, 20 years later, the album still has a crucial impact on the music industry and the lives of billions of people around the world.
After leaving the award-winning music group “The Fugees” in 1997, Hill would pursue his solo musical goals. Later that same year, Hill began writing and working on her critically acclaimed project, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”. While working on the album, Hill was pregnant with her first child. Hill said in an “Ebony Magazine” interview in 1998, “When some women are pregnant their hair and nails grow, but for me it was my spirit and my ability to create.”
Prior to the release of her album, she mentioned how, while working on it, she was “very in touch with [her] feelings.” Hill’s sense of emotional vulnerability and transparency is openly displayed in her album.
Hill was in a period of healing and made no secret of it in creating “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”. Hill reflects on motherhood, love, grief, and spiritual and mental balance throughout the album.
The album begins with a teacher (Ras Baraka) assisting. He scans the list and says “Lauryn Hill”, but there is no answer; this opening intro may be an allusion to the album’s title, since Hill may be “poorly educated” due to her inability to be mentally open and present in life, such as her absence from class.
In “Lost Ones,” Hill reflects on her recent breakup with musical artist Wyclef Jean. The chorus repeats “You might win some but you just lost one”, meaning Jean may still be successful in his music career, but he lost Hill, which he later regrets. At the end, he returns to the classroom scene, where the students are pondering “What is love?”. This skit sets the tone for much of the album, as the message of love is conveyed throughout most of the album.
The album then goes to Hill’s “Ex-Factor”. The song opens with a melodic piano and bass motif. “Ex-Factor” shows Hill’s confusion as to why her partner doesn’t put as much effort and love into their relationship as she does.
Hill isn’t afraid to admit she’s screaming for help and wants her partner to love her as much as she loves him. This has trouble understanding fact that their love for each the other will not be reciprocated.
Hill wasn’t afraid to share the impact her newborn son, Zion, has had on her life. On track four, “In Zion,” Hill reflects on how people told her she should abort her son because it would slow her career down.
Hill sings about ignoring naysayers and how her son Zion brought her peace during a depressing time in her life. “To Zion” is followed by another classroom skit in which young students discuss whether falling in love has a the minimum age after the teacher asks: “How many of you have been in love?”. This may refer to Hill’s son, Zion, as she finally found someone who loves her unconditionally despite being new to this world.
On the song “Doo Wop (That Thing)”, Hill explains how men and women are guilty of dating someone simply for physical attraction and sexual pleasure. Hill says, “Don’t think I haven’t been through the same predicament” to let her listeners know that she’s far from perfect and is even guilty of dating just for sexual gratification; Hill tries to educate her listeners so they don’t make the same mistakes she did. “Doo Wop” was favored by many of his fans due to the straightforwardness and simplicity of the message. In a verse, Hill says, “How are you going to win when you’re not on the inside?”, signaling to his listeners that you can’t expect to want someone who has their life in place when you have gaps in your life that you need to correct.
In the ninth track of Hill’s album, her confession of vulnerability resurfaces in the album. In the track “I Used to Love Him”, Hill reached a point in her life where she officially left that person she once loved. “I Used to Love Him” is constantly repeated in the chorus, to show that her love for this guy is a thing of the past.
She compared their relationship to the ocean washing away the sand, “He was the ocean and I was the sand,” Hill said. It signifies how Hill was used and exploited, but she began to heal and seek better for herself.
In “Nothing Even Matters”, the 12th track on the album, Hill appears to have made this song after falling in love with someone she was dating. Hill sings this song in duet with D’Angelo. Hill reflects on how despite the problems in the world around her, she’s not bothered because she’s found someone she loves and can see them being together for eternity. In this track, Hill seems to be at peace, something Hill has struggled with before, and can be shown in earlier tracks on the album such as “Ex-Factor”.
Hill ends her album with her last track, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”. In a way, this song is Hill’s moment of maturity. Much of the beginning and middle of the album is about how Hill is trying to find love and other people’s approval, and she is distraught and lost as to what she is doing wrong.
However, in the final track, Hill’s final verse states, “And deep in my heart, the answer was within me. And I decided to define my own destiny. Hill illustrates that she looked for love and peace everywhere and was upset to miss each time, but she realized that peace and love comes from within.
Lauryn Hill’s unique sense of vulnerability and discovery for love and peace has helped “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” be such a deeply performed album. The album takes listeners on a roller coaster of emotions while successfully educating them on how to approach love, inner peace and self-discovery.