Two years after the release of her last associated album with The Fugees, Lauryn Hill made her comeback onto the Neo-Soul/R&B scene with the release of her only full-length studio album, ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’.
While Hill is credited as a primary songwriter and producer of most tracks on the album, D’Angelo, Francis Dunnery and John Legend(!!!) who provides piano on “Everything is Everything”.
As the album plays out, starting off with the atmospheric “Intro” , depicting a classroom environment, Hill begins the album with “Lost Ones”. Her lyrics explore discrimination against African-American women, her relevance and influence on contemporary R&B. “Even when you’re gone, you can still be reborn”. This bar from the track backs up the idea of the record being about relevance and not being a “Lost One”. What’s also different about Hill, that also separates her from other female R&B stars as well as Rappers is her ability to truly sing and rap efficiently. This is most clear on “Final Hour” and the positive vibe-out “Doo Woop”. Over high-pitched friendly keys, jumpy bass and quick drums, Hill provides a complex flow, however, compared to someone like Nicki Minaj, Hill merges the two styles of singing and rapping effortlessly. “Forgive Them Father” is another cross-genre track on the album as the beat itself has New York-Boom-Bap sound, yet, her motivated vocals on Black-on-Black crime being rejected and de-idolising those who aren’t who they seem they are.
Many songs on the album explore Hill’s ideas of love, family (“When it Hurts So Bad”), fame and racial injustice. Yet, one of the most exciting songs, for it’s Neo-Soul instrumental and Hill’s blissful vocals is “Superstar”.
Alike to “Lost Ones”, Hill reiterates the snakes in the music industry, her undoubted influence of artists to come from her style as well as the artists who drop uninspired albums. Although the album has limited features, Mary J. Blige’s background vocals and second verse on “I Used To Love Him” which is an instant standout on the album.
In all, it’s a beautiful album. It’s packed intensely with mature themes that aren’t to be listened too if you’re looking for typical-fun-party music. Hill’s music is conscious and seems like a major influence on modern artists like Kendrick Lamars’ ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’. As a female artist within an already known genre for misogyny and demoralising women, Hill rejects this and shows to her peers and competition that she was an amazing vocalist as well as songwriter.