We often define moments in our life by music. The song playing when we first started high school. The hottest video out when the cute boy had his friend tell you he likes you. The hottest track on the radio when you turned in your last assignment as a high school senior. We can all hear a song and remember something happening in our life at that time. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was one of those albums. We were introduced to Ms. Hill in the 90s by way of The Fugees, which comprised of Lauryn, and fellow emcess Wyclef Jean and Pras. In addition to adding soul stirring vocals to the group, she also lyrically held her own, dropping lyrics such as “and even after all my logic and my theory, I add a ‘muthafucka’ so you ignorant niggas hear me” or “while you imitating Al Capone i’ll be Nina Simone and defecating on your microphone.” Not only was she lyrically raising the bar, but her natural beauty spoke to young black girls everywhere. So you can imagine our excitement when her debut solo album dropped. I was in 10th grade at the time. Every girl in school had the album. We knew all the songs. Ms. Hill’s beautiful chocolate skin, majestic locs and socially relevant lyrics helped balance out the influx of sexually provocative female emcees who were dominating the mainstream air ways. We saw Lauryn Hill and we saw us. Lauryn Hill let us know that it was okay to be yourself and rap/sing about more than sex and be fly with it. While Ms. Hill wasn’t the first woman to rap and sing (shout out to Queen Latifah), she definitely took it to another level. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hillproved that Ms. Hill can play in both the R&B arena and Hip-Hop arena and when a battle with no problem.
So it is only fitting that The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was entered into the Library of Congress. Ever year, the Library of Congress picks 25 audio recordings that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill joins 24 other recordings including Ben E. King’s Stand By Me (1961) and Sly and the Family Stone’s Stand (1969).
Congrats to Ms. Hill. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was a life-defining album for me as a young black girl in America. On behalf of young black girls every who have grown into beautiful black women while listening to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, thank you.
One of my favorite jams from the album: